By MADISON HIRNEISEN
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – Weeks after Gov. Gavin Newsom and lawmakers vowed to fast-track gun violence prevention legislation after the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, two proposals backed by the governor advanced this week.
Assembly lawmakers voted to advance a bill that would allow residents to enforce the state’s assault weapons ban by creating a private right of action against anyone who “manufactures, distributes, transports or imports” an assault weapon, .50 BMG rifle or ghost gun kits. Residents could collect $10,000 per weapon or precursor part on top of attorney’s fees.
Gov. Newsom had initially called for the bill in December after the Supreme Court decided not to block Senate Bill 8, a Texas law that allows citizens to sue anyone who “aids or abets” an abortion after roughly six weeks and relies on private citizens for enforcement.
When the bill was introduced in February, Gov. Newsom said, “if Texas can use a law to ban a woman’s right to choose and to put her health at risk, we will use that same law to save lives and improve the health and safety of the people in the state of California.”
California currently already has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, including an assault weapons ban and an age requirement of 21 in order to purchase a weapon. Supporters of Senate Bill 1327 say it would provide a “new tool” to protect Californians.
“If it stops one further death, it’s the right thing to do,” the bill’s author, Sen. Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, told lawmakers Tuesday.
The bill has drawn opposition from the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, who say they oppose “the enforcement mechanism used in this law.” Shilpi Agarwal, the legal director at the organization, told lawmakers Tuesday that “replicating the Texas model only serves to legitimize and promote it.”
“Eroding court oversight over laws will empower other states to cherry pick the hot button political issues of the day and pass their own SB 8 copycat bill to address them,” Mr. Agarwal said.
The bill passed through the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.
Several other measures related to gun violence prevention also advanced Tuesday, including a bill backed by Gov. Newsom that prohibits the advertising or marketing of firearms to minors.
Another measure that uses an exception in existing federal law to allow legal action against gun-makers, importers and dealers who are “irresponsible, reckless, and negligent in the sale or marketing of their products,” was also passed in the Senate on Tuesday.