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California enacts sweeping new gun laws that target gunmakers

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (Dania Maxwell/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
July 13, 2022

Less than one month after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its first major decision on gun rights in more than a decade, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed at least three new gun control laws that restrict firearm access, limit gun advertising and allow private citizens to sue to gun makers.

On Tuesday, Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1594, which creates a “firearm industry standard of conduct” permitting local governments, the California Department of Justice and victims of gun violence to sue gun makers and dealers.

“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,” 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.”

The new gun control measure will go into effect on July 1, 2023. Two other bills signed by Newsom will take effect immediately, including one that limits gun advertising to minors and another that further restricts so-called ghost guns, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Sam Paredes, executive director of the Gun Owners of California, asserted that the gun control measures are all unconstitutional, violating the 1st, 2nd, and 14th Amendments.  

“None of this stuff, none of the bills that are going to the governor’s desk that he is going to sign pass that [constitutional] test, from our opinion. And I think we will find out in court if our opinion is correct,” Paredes said.

Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of UC Berkeley Law, argued that California should implement the laws first and then see what the courts decide.  

“It’s unclear where the court is going to draw the line,” Chemerinsky said. “I think there’s a strong argument that all of these are constitutional. There’s also going to be an argument that they are unconstitutional. I think it’s important to adopt the laws and then see where the court is going to draw the line.”

The new gun control laws come after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association last month when it decided that New York state violates the Second Amendment by requiring gun owners applying for concealed-carry licenses to prove they have a worthy need to carry guns in public.

UCLA School of Law professor Eugene Volokh said the top court’s decision limits how states can enact gun control, but suggested some restrictions may still be “permissible.”

“Unsurprisingly, legislatures may continue trying to regulate [guns],” Volokh said. They will have to act more cautiously, he added, recognizing that firearms “are now in a zone of considerable constitutional protection.”