On Saturday, California Governor Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) vowed to pursue a law that would allow private citizens to have a role in enforcing gun control laws by suing gun manufacturers, Politico reports.
Newsom allegedly found inspiration for the proposal from a recently-passed law in Texas outlawing abortion after six weeks, known as a “heartbeat bill.” A crucial component of the law empowers private citizens to have a role in enforcing the law, allowing them to sue abortion clinics, abortion doctors, and any other individuals or entities that “aid and abet” the process of abortion.
The Supreme Court ruled on Friday that Texas’s law can remain in effect while challengers go through legal action in an effort to block it. Newsom invoked this law in an angry statement issued the next day, claiming that “if states can now shield their laws from review by the federal courts…then California will use that authority to protect people’s lives, where Texas used it to put women in harm’s way.”
Newsom claims that he then ordered his staff to collaborate with the Democrat-majority state legislature and the office of the Attorney General, Rob Bonta (D-Calif.), to create a law that would allow private citizens to sue gun manufacturers, gun stores, and other pro-Second Amendment entities. Plaintiffs who sue could end up receiving as much as $10,000 from the defendants for each so-called violation, as well as coverage of all attorneys’ fees.
“If the most efficient way to keep these devastating weapons off our streets is to add the threat of private lawsuits,” Newsom’s statement continued, “we should do just that.”
The California State Legislature will not reconvene for another session until January. State Senator Brian Dahle, the former Minority Leader of the State Assembly, described Newsom’s latest promise as a publicity stunt, most likely to build up his own image ahead of a future presidential run.
“The right to bear arms is different than the right to have an abortion,” Dahle said. “The right to have an abortion is not a constitutional amendment. So I think he’s way off base. I think he’s just using it as an opportunity to grandstand.”
California’s gun laws, which are among the strictest in the nation, have banned the sale and manufacture of “assault weapons” in the state. In June, a federal judge finally overturned the ban as unconstitutional; however, the ban remains in effect while the state appeals the ruling.