California Governor Gavin Newsom has announced a new package of meaningful gun safety legislation, which includes residents to sue the gun industry for the harm their products cause when state laws are not followed.
Newsom shared his plans on gun safety measures in San Diego County on FRriday alongside California Attorney General Rob Bonta, and legislators and local officials, reports Xinhua news agency.
“It’s time to go on the offensive with new measures that empower individuals to hold irresponsible and negligent gun industry actors to account, crack down on shameful advertising that targets our kids and more,” Newsom said at Del Mar Fairgrounds, where the sale of firearms and ammunition was prohibited under legislation he signed into law in 2019.
“This is not about attacking law-abiding gun owners – it’s about stopping the tragic violence ravaging communities across the country,” he added.
According to the Governor’s office, a bill will be introduced by California State Senator Robert Hertzberg on Friday, which would allow private citizens to sue anyone who manufactures, distributes, transports, imports into the state or sells assault weapons, .50 BMG rifles, ghost guns, or ghost gun kits.
The bill would let people seek a court order to stop the spread of these weapons and recover up to $10,000 in damages for each weapon, plus attorney’s fees.
Meanwhile, another bill will be introduced to the state legislative institution by Assembly members Philip Ting, Mike Gipson and Christopher Ward, allowing individuals and the California Attorney General to sue manufacturers and sellers of firearms for the harm caused by their product.
In 2005, Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which shields gun manufacturers and dealers from civil suits when crimes are committed using the guns they produce.
But California’s new assembly bill utilises 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.
“Almost every industry in the United States can be held liable for what their products do, but the gun industry is not held to the same standard. Financial repercussions may finally push them to be more responsible by improving their practices and adhering to California’s strict gun laws,” said Assembly member Ting.
“The US has less than 5 per cent of the world’s population, yet we make up nearly a third of the world’s mass shootings,” said Assembly member Ward.
“This is a public health crisis that the federal government has continually failed to address. California must take action and hold irresponsible, reckless and negligent gun manufacturers, distributors and sellers accountable.”
California has banned the manufacture and sale of many assault-style weapons for decades.
However, a federal judge overturned that ban in last June, ruling it was unconstitutional and drawing the ire of the state’s Democratic leaders by comparing the popular AR-15 rifle to a Swiss Army knife as “good for both home and battle”.
California’s ban remained in place while the state appealed, but the June ruling and Texas abortion law enraged the state’s politicians, most of whom support abortion rights and gun ban.
“If states can now shield their laws from review by the federal courts that compare assault weapons to Swiss Army knives, then California will use that authority to protect people’s lives, where Texas used it to put women in harm’s way,” Newsom said in a statement last December.