Gov. Gavin Newsom signs legislation allowing victims of gun violence to sue gun manufacturers
SACRAMENTO (KUSI) – California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed new legislation allowing victims of gun violence to sue gun manufacturers.
In a video, Newsom blamed gun lobbyists for the political influence in protecting gun manufacturers, but vowed to “change that.” With this new legislation, Newsom says, gun manufacturers “can no longer hide from the mass destruction that they have caused.”
Newsom’s opponents say guns aren’t to blame, just as car manufacturers aren’t responsible when someone crashes a vehicle.
Since 2005, a federal law has protected gun manufacturers and dealers from lawsuits when the weapons they make are used in crimes. But Newsom’s new legislation uses and exemption to get around this statute.
The bill allows gun makers or sellers to be sued in civil court for crimes involving firearms. This includes family owned, small businesses.
California has allocated $156 million in gun violence prevention grants. The funding is said to support nearly 80 cities and nonprofit organizations to help them start anti-violence programs.
The Office of Governor Gavin Newsom released the following press release detailing the legislation:
Governor Newsom signs legislation so irresponsible gun makers can be sued for the carnage their products cause
New law bolsters California’s nation-leading gun safety policies credited with cutting gun death rate by half
SACRAMENTO – Taking new steps to further hold the gun industry accountable, Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation Monday allowing the state, local governments and Californians to sue gun makers. Watch video of the Governor signing the bill here.
“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. “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.”
AB 1594 authored by Assemblymembers Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), Mike A. Gipson (D-Carson) and Chris Ward (D-San Diego) allows individuals, local governments and the California Attorney General to sue irresponsible manufacturers and sellers of firearms for the harm caused by their products.
“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 Assemblymember Ting. “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.”
“There have been more mass shootings in our nation than days in the year, and yet many members of the gun industry continue to use a combination of bullying, exploitation, and fear to rack up profits from the very tools used in these shootings,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “There is no reason that the gun industry should be the only industry exempt from responsibility for the harm that its products cause, especially when its products are responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans each year. In California, we refuse to settle with thoughts and prayers as innocent lives are lost— we demand and will deliver urgent action, now. I am grateful to the Governor for signing AB 1594 which will allow Californians to hold the gun industry accountable for the harm caused by its products. In California, we won’t let this industry off the hook.”
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. AB 1594 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.
“As a joint author of AB 1594, I proudly stand with my colleague from San Francisco, Assemblymember Phil Ting, in thanking the Governor for signing this historic bill that challenges the stronghold of the gun lobby and brings justice to gun violence survivors,” said Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson (D-Carson). “Our message is clear: California will not turn a blind eye to the gun industry’s direct responsibility for the killing machines they let flood our streets and murder our loved ones, day in and day out. Other industries and their products, even non-lethal, are held to this standard of accountability. Today, we stand together against the naysayers to create the type of parity that will save lives, setting a standard for others in the nation to follow.”
“This bill is a significant step toward holding irresponsible, reckless and negligent gun manufacturers, distributors and sellers accountable,” said Assemblymember Chris Ward (D-San Diego). “The U.S. has less than 5% of the world’s population, yet we make up nearly a third of the world’s mass shootings. I’m proud to joint author AB 1594 and support other common sense gun reforms that will help make our communities safer.”
California’s gun safety policies save lives and provide a national model for other states to follow. According to the Giffords Law Center, in 2021, California was ranked as the top state in the nation for gun safety. As California strengthened its gun laws, the state saw a 37 percent lower gun death rate than the national average. Meanwhile, other states such as Florida and Texas, with lax gun regulations, saw double-digit increases in the rate of gun deaths. As a result of the actions taken by California, the state has cut its gun death rate in half and Californians are 25 percent less likely to die in a mass shooting compared to people in other states.
Last month, Governor Newsom announced a record $156 million in gun violence prevention grants provided as part of the California Violence Intervention and Prevention Grant Program (CalVIP). The funding will support 79 cities and nonprofit organizations that are implementing anti-violence programs suited to the unique needs of their local communities.
A recent study from the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis found that California’s red flag law was used to stop 58 threatened mass shootings.
The Governor also signed:
- AB 2551 by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) – Firearms.
- AB 1645 by Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach) – State parks: concession contracts: Crystal Cove State Park.