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California Gov. Newsom Calls for Gun Control Bill Based on Texas Abortion Law

December 13, 2021 by Reece Nations
California Gov. Gavin Newsom pledged to empower private citizens to enforce a ban on the manufacture and sale of assault weapons in the state, citing the same authority claimed by conservative lawmakers in Texas to outlaw most abortions once a heartbeat is detected. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — In response to the Supreme Court’s decision allowing Texas’ abortion law to continue, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced plans to craft gun control measures that enable private citizens to seek injunctive relief and statutory damages against gun suppliers and manufacturers.

Newsom’s announcement came over the weekend following the Supreme Court’s upholding of Texas Senate Bill 8 in a blow to abortion rights advocates, TWN previously reported. Abortion clinics in the state have ceased performing the procedure since the law went into effect on Sept. 1, prohibiting abortions from being performed should fetal cardiac activity be detected.

In his statement, Newsom said the proposed legislation would allow California citizens to sue manufacturers, distributors and sellers of assault weapons or ghost gun kits for damages of up to $10,000 per violation plus costs and attorney’s fees. The California State Legislature is scheduled to reconvene for its 2022 session on Jan. 3.

“I am outraged by [Friday’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 a written 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.”

Texas’ abortion law permits private citizens to sue any individual who deliberately assists or carries out any abortion performed after six weeks into a pregnancy with no exceptions in place for instances of rape, incest or defects impacting fetal viability. Justice Neil Gorsuch penned the majority opinion that enabled the law to proceed, TWN previously reported.

Should Newsom’s plans come to fruition, the legislation would likely be met with legal challenges from guns rights advocates, just as the Texas abortion law has from advocates of abortion rights.

California’s decades-old ban on assault weapons was overturned in June by U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez, who wrote that the AR-15 rifle is a “perfect combination” of personal defense weaponry and homeland defense equipment and compared the guns to Swiss Army knives. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit would go on to block Benitez’s ruling later that same month, allowing the ban to remain in place.

Newsom explicitly referenced Benitez’s ruling in his statement announcing the legislative priority. Further, Newsom said that California would use the same authority to protect lives in contrast to Texas’ abortion law, which he maintained was being used “to put women in harm’s way.”

“Gov. Newsom misunderstands the actions of the Supreme Court—and the limits of his war on lawful gun ownership,” the National Rifle Association said in a written statement shared with The Well News. “His promise to run roughshod over the Second Amendment is little more than political theater. He and fellow Democrats should proceed at their own peril: the American people will not tolerate another taxpayer-funded assault on constitutional freedom.”

The statement continued, “Newsom’s statement comes at a time where brazen crime continues to plague the state. But, instead of rightfully focusing his attention on criminal conduct, he continues to harass and demonize law-abiding gun owners. The NRA will fight this bogus effort in the legislature and the courts.” 

Reece can be reached at reece@thewellnews.com

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