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California's Latest Gun Control Bill Aims to Make Gun Manufacturers 'Accountable for Their Role in This Crisis'

Former NRA Spokesman: 'This law is nothing more than Gavin Newsom and the anti-gun lobby's way of destroying the gun industry'

Less than a month since the U.S. Supreme Court handed a big win to gun rights advocates by striking down state laws requiring individuals to show “just cause” to obtain a concealed carry permit, California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed three gun control bills into law.

The latest, Assembly Bill 1594, establishes a “firearm industry standard code of conduct,” which would require a firearm industry member to “establish, implement, and enforce reasonable controls, as defined, take reasonable precautions to ensure that the member does not sell, distribute, or provide a firearm-related product, as defined, to a downstream distributor or retailer of firearm-related products who fails to establish, implement, and enforce reasonable controls, and adhere to specified laws pertaining to unfair methods of competition, unfair or deceptive acts or practices, and false advertising.”

Patterned after a Texas abortion law that let’s private citizens sue, rather than having criminal or regulatory punishments imposed, California’s gun control bill allows local governments, the state Department of Justice, and victims of gun violence to sue for violations of California’s sales and marketing regulations.

“To the victims of gun violence and their families: California stands with you. The gun industry can no longer hide from the devastating harm their products cause,” Governor Newsom said in a statement. “Our kids, families and communities deserve streets free of gun violence and gun makers must be held accountable for their role in this crisis. Nearly every industry is held liable when people are hurt or killed by their products – guns should be no different.”

Currently, under federal law, firearm manufacturers cannot be sued simply because a product they lawfully made was used to commit a crime. But, there are exceptions to the law, one of which is if the manufacturer has violated some state or federal law governing the marketing of firearms.

AB-1594 opens the door to a barrage of lawsuits against gun manufacturers on this basis.

“This law is nothing more than Gavin Newsome and the anti-gun lobby’s way of destroying the gun industry,” said Colion Noir, attorney, gun rights advocate, and former spokesman for the National Rifle Association (NRA).

“You can’t hold a company liable for a murder they didn’t commit. The reason [the law protecting gun manufacturers] had to be passed is because the anti-gun lobby was filing a bunch of frivolous lawsuits against gun companies,” he said. “They weren’t trying to win the lawsuits. They were just trying to inundate gun companies with so many lawsuits that they would go bankrupt, trying to fight them.”

He mentioned that the families involved in the Sandy Hook shooting attempted to sue the manufacturer of the gun used in that slaughter. Lawyers representing the families argued that the company’s marketing influenced the shooter to commit that crime.

“Even though the court said that the argument was a long shot, they could still sue and have their day in court because it fell into one of the exceptions. The only reason Gavin Newsom is passing this law is not because he’s so outraged about rifles made for kids,” Noir said. “It’s because he needs a state law governing the marketing or sale of guns that can be used by the anti-gun lobby to circumvent the federal law that was put in place to stop these types of frivolous lawsuits.”

California lawmakers have issued statements admitting the goal of the legislation is to encourage and expedite lawsuits against gun manufacturers.

“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. I thank the Governor for signing AB 1594,” said Phil Ting, California Assembly member. “For far too long, the firearms industry has enjoyed federal immunity from civil lawsuits, providing them no incentive for them to follow our laws. Hitting their bottom line may finally compel them to step up to reduce gun violence by preventing illegal sales and theft.”

Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, told the Daily Wire that backers of AB1594 know the lawsuits will not hold up in court, but argued, “they have a concentrated effort to try to bankrupt the firearms industry by requiring them to defend themselves in court, which, as you know, is a very expensive proposition even when you win.”

He said that this legislation will have “zero impact on the criminal misuse of firearms” and that it simply allows victims “an opportunity to look for a deep pocket to pay for the victimization that they’ve experienced.”

California lawmakers have two more gun control bills queued, which Newsom is expected to sign this month and in August.

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