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Newsom Signing Bill Allowing Private Suits Targeting Illegal Guns

California Gov. Gavin Newsom is signing a controversial gun control bill modeled after Texas’ vigilante abortion law Friday, teeing up a legal battle with a U.S. Supreme Court friendly to Second Amendment groups and firearm owners, reports the Los Angeles Times. Newsom started a game of legal chess in December when he called for gun control legislation in California modeled after a Texas law that authorizes private citizens to sue anyone who aids and abets in an abortion, which the high court declined to block. Democratic lawmakers introduced a bill as a way to test the Supreme Court's logic, while setting up a political rivalry with states that have used a conservative majority of justices to expand gun ownership and curb abortion rights.

“While the Supreme Court rolls back reasonable gun safety measures, California continues adding new ways to protect the lives of our kids,” Newsom said. “California will use every tool at its disposal to save lives, especially in the face of an increasingly extreme Supreme Court.” The legislation, effective in January, will allow private people to sue anyone who imports, distributes, manufacturers or sells illegal firearms in California, such as assault weapons, .50 BMG rifles and so-called ghost guns. The law requires a court to order $10,000 in damages for each weapon used in an alleged violation, along with legal fees. The bill was written so that if Texas’ law is nullified, California’s would similarly be invalidated. Newsom placed the new law at the top of a list of more than a dozen bills he prioritized to address a national crisis of mass shootings and to further limit the gun industry’s already restricted influence in California. Newsom signed another measure this month to establish a “firearm industry standard of conduct” and allow local governments, the state Department of Justice and gun violence survivors to sue for violations of state law.


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