Californians can sue anyone who manufacturess, distribute, transports, imports or sells dangerous firearms, including so-called ghost guns, under a bill Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law on Friday, July 21, during an event in Santa Monica.
Newsom on Friday also touted several other bills aimed at preventing gun violence, which he signed the day before.
State Senate Bill 1327, which the governor signed on Friday, allows private citizens to sue those who contribute to assault weapons, .50 BMG rifles, ghost guns or ghost gun kits ending up on the streets. Ghost guns are untraceable firearms.
The bill is the first of its kind in the nation, according to state Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, who co-authored the legislation. It was based off a Texas law that allows indicuduals to sue those who facilitate abortions.
Newsom’s visit to Southern California came about a month after the U.S. Supreme Court expanded gun rights for the first time in more than a decade, ruling Americans have the right to carry firearms in public for self-defense. The court overturned a New York law that required people to demonstrate a particular need for carrying a gun in order to get a license to carry a gun in a concealed way in public.
The court’s conservative majority said that law violated the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms; the vote was 6-3, with the liberal justices dissenting.
The state’s new gun laws, which Newsom signed on Thursday, July 21, were the latest in a series of efforts to further prevent gun violence in the wake of the court’s decision, as well as several recent mass shootings. The largest of those came in late May at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, during which a gunman fatally shot 19 teachers and two students, and wounded another 17.
“California has the toughest gun safety laws in the nation, but none of us can afford to be complacent in tackling the gun violence crisis ravaging our country,” Newsom said in a Thursday statement. “These new measures will help keep children safe at school, keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and responsibly regulate the sale of firearms in our communities. California will continue to lead on lifesaving polices that provide a model for action by other states and the nation.”
Under Assembly Bill 1594, the state, local governments and Californians can sue firearms manufacturers when their products are used in a crime.
A 2005 federal law protects gun manufacturers and dealers from lawsuits when the weapons they produce are used to commit crimes.
But the new state law “utilizes an exemption to the federal statute that allows gun makers or sellers to be sued for violations of state laws concerning the sale or marketing of firearms,” according to the California news release.
AB 2571, meanwhile, bans marketing firearms to minors and AB 1621 further restricts ghost guns.
Other state bills Newsom signed into law, and their provisions, are:
- Assembly Bill 228: Requires the state Justice Department to inspect gun dealers at least every three years beginning in 2024, except those in areas where local agencies have their own inspection programs.
- AB 1842: Bans licensed firearms dealers from charging more than 5% of a gun’s sale price as a restocking or other return-related fee, as long as the person who bought the firearm cancels the purchase within 10 days of the application. Special order firearms are exempted.
- AB 2156: Reduces the number of guns someone can make without a license and bans people without a license from using 3D printers to manufacture firearms.
- AB 2239: Bans those convicted of child abuse or elder abuse from possessing a gun for 10 years.
- Senate Bill 906: Requires schools and school districts to inform parents each year about laws related to safely storing firearms and preventing children from getting a hold of them; and mandates school officials report “any threat or perceived threat of a homicidal act,” among other requirements for educational agencies.
- SB 915: Prohibits selling guns, firearm precursor parts and ammunition on state property.
The state also has allocated $156 million in gun violence prevention grants to support nearly 80 cities and nonprofit organizations implement anti-violence programs tailored to their local communities.
California was the top-ranked state for gun safety last year, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Still, underscoring to real threat of gun violence, even in California, were reports this week that Long Beach police last month seized an AR-15 rifle and a handgun while arresting a man they say had the tools and the motivation to carry out a mass shooting, according to court documents.
“Gun violence is now the leading cause of death among kids and teens in the United States, surpassing car accidents. I see no better argument for stronger gun safety legislation,” said Assemblyman Phil Ting, who co-authored AB 1594. “For far too long, the firearms industry has enjoyed federal immunity from civil lawsuits, providing them no incentive for them to follow our laws.”
This story is breaking and will be updated.
The Associated Press and CNN contributed to this report.