California to Use Texas Abortion Ruling as Anti-Gun Law Model

Source: Bloomberg

Date: 12/11/2021

California governor Gavin Newsom has called for a new California law that will effectively bar the manufacture and sale of assault rifles in the state, modeled on Texas’s victory in the U.S. Supreme Court that keeps in place state legislation banning most abortions.

Newsom has directed his staff to work with the state legislature and Attorney General Rob Bonta to create a law that would allow private citizens to sue manufacturers, distributors and sellers of assault weapons, according to a statement Saturday.

The proposed California law would be shaped on the Texas legislation that makes abortions illegal after six weeks of pregnancy and allows private citizens to sue doctors or anyone who helps facilitate an abortion. The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday narrowed a legal challenge to the Texas law and left it in force. 

“I am outraged by yesterday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing Texas’s ban on most abortion services to remain in place, and largely endorsing Texas’s scheme to insulate its law from the fundamental protections of Roe v. Wade,” Newsom said in the statement. “But 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 the new law being crafted would enable private citizens to sue anyone who makes, distributes or sells an assault weapon, ghost gun kits or parts in California. It would allow plaintiffs to seek at least $10,000 in damages for each violation -- essentially barring the sale of such weapons in the state. 

“If the most efficient way to keep these devastating weapons off our streets is to add the threat of private lawsuits, we should do just that,” Newsom said. 

Copycat Laws

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who wrote the dissenting view on the decision, said the ruling could reach beyond abortion, allowing states to enact laws that effectively nullify constitutional rights from abortion to guns to religion.

The “Court clears the way for States to reprise and perfect Texas’ scheme in the future to target the exercise of any right recognized by this Court with which they disagree,” Sotomayor said.

States may only have to do a little tweaking to the Texas law or be more specific when writing others like it to undermine the court’s limited ruling.

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