AR-15 style rifles are displayed for sale at Firearms Unknown, a gun store in Oceanside. REUTERS/Bing Guan
Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed into law an Assembly bill that allows California victims of gun violence to sue manufacturers and retailers for negligence.
“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,” said Newsom during the signing in Sacramento on Tuesday.
“Nearly every industry is held liable when people are hurt or killed by their products — guns should be no different,” he said.
Assembly Bill 1594 by Assemblymembers Phil Ting of San Francisco, Mike Gipson of Carson and Chris Ward of San Diego allows individuals, local governments and the California Attorney General to sue the manufacturers and sellers of firearms for the harm caused by their products.
Since 2005, a federal law has shielded the firearms industry from civil suits when crimes are committed using their products. 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.
“This bill is a significant step toward holding irresponsible, reckless and negligent gun manufacturers, distributors and sellers accountable,” said Ward. “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.”
The bill is modeled after a controversial Texas law passed last year that deputizes individuals to sue abortion providers.
California has been a leader in enacting gun safety laws, and was ranked the top state in the nation for safety in 2021 by the Giffords Law Center.
However, the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent expansion of gun rights is expected to encourage the firearms lobby to challenge California’s laws.