California Bill Would Allow Citizens to Enforce Assault Weapon Ban

Yves here. Wellie, you can’t say the conservatives weren’t warned. “Abortion rights” were more touted than actual, since working and low income women had little access to facilities and reimbursement. But the mechanism of setting out to have private citizens spy and get bounties on women who got abortions outside an insanely tight time frame is vile, yet the Supreme Court let it stand. The California assault weapon bill using the same private enforcement scheme is sure to be challenged. One wonders what intellectual contortions the high court will go through to uphold Texas and nix California.

By Kenny Stancil. Originally published at Common Dreams

California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday endorsed legislation that would allow private citizens to enforce the state’s ban on assault weapons.

California’s new bill mimics a Texas law empowering private citizens to enforce the state’s draconian abortion ban by suing anyone who “aids or abets” an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.

After the right-wing dominated U.S. Supreme Court refused to strike down the Texas GOP’s effort to kill Roe v. Wade, Newsom vowed to work with California lawmakers to craft similar legislation targeting gun manufacturers.

“If Texas can use a law to ban a woman’s right to chose 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,” Newsom said Friday at a press conference. “There is no principled way the U.S. Supreme Court cannot uphold this California law. Full stop. It is quite literally modeled after the law they just upheld.”

The Associated Press reported:

Newsom said he hopes the proposal forces the U.S. Supreme Court’s hand on the Texas abortion law. He said it will either expose their “hypocrisy” if they should block California’s proposal that affects the gun industry and not the Texas law on abortion, “or it’ll get them to reconsider the absurdity of their previous decision.”

While Republican-controlled states’ previous attempts to ban abortions after six weeks—before many individuals know they’re pregnant—have been blocked by courts, “Texas’ new abortion law is unique in that it bars the government from enforcing the law,” AP noted.

“The idea is if the government can’t enforce the law, it can’t be sued to block it in court,” the news outlet continued. “That hasn’t stopped abortion providers from trying to block the law. But so far, the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority has allowed the abortion law to stay in place pending a legal challenge.”

The high court’s refusal to invalidate Texas’ law deputizing citizens to crack down on abortion providers motivated Newsom and Democratic lawmakers in California to develop analogous legislation that would permit citizens to go after gunmakers.

“Our message to the United States Supreme Court is as follows: What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” state Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-18), the author of the proposal, said Friday. “I look forward to rushing a new bill to the governor’s desk to take advantage of that United States Supreme Court guidance.”

Last year, a federal judge overturned California’s decadeslong ban on the manufacture and sale of assault weapons, but the law remains in effect while the state appeals the decision.

Although it has not yet been filed in the state Legislature, the new bill would let people seek a court order to stop assault weapons, .50 BMG rifles, and ghost guns or ghost gun kits from being produced, distributed, transported, imported into, or sold in California, according to Hertzberg’s office. Plaintiffs could recover up to $10,000 in damages for each weapon, plus attorney’s fees.

AP reported:

The proposal fulfills fears from some gun rights groups, who have opposed the Texas abortion law because they worried liberal states like California would use the same principle on guns.

“If Texas succeeds in its gambit here, New York, California, New Jersey, and others will not be far behind in adopting equally aggressive gambits to not merely chill but to freeze the right to keep and bear arms,” attorney Erik Jaffe wrote in a legal brief on behalf of the Firearms Policy Coalition, a nonprofit group that advocates for gun rights.

Gun advocates, including the Firearms Policy Coalition, immediately promised a court challenge if the California bill becomes law.

The bill is one of four pieces of legislation in California aiming to rein in the gun industry. The other measures would make it illegal to market assault weapons to kids, make it easier for survivors of gun violence to sue manufacturers or dealers for liability in shooting incidents, and curb the spread of ghost guns—firearms that are assembled from parts and lack serial numbers.

“The public has no patience for these purveyors of violence and death,” Newsom told The Sacramento Bee.

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  1. FedUpPleb

    These laws are currently over third rail issues, but what is to stop corporations lobbying for “non-government enforced laws” for just about anything they want?

    Forming a union? Private groups can sue you.
    Investigating corporate crime? Private groups can sue you.
    Sending money to $ENTITY. Prepare to be sued by whoever picks up your target contract.

    These SCOTUS endorsed Texas and Californian laws are just ‘Letters of Marque and Reprisal’ for legal privateers.

  2. TimH

    Read a review of the GST-9 ghost gun kit, and it’s not cheap. But unless a buyer pays cash at the manufacturer, the transaction is surely tracked, so what’s the advantage to a criminal?

    Far easier to fit a spare barrel to a legally owned handgun for illegal acts, then slap the original one back in to defeat forensics.

    1. ambrit

      Steel jacketed bullets will also change the marks of the lands of a barrel on the projectile. Even cheaper than a spare barrel. Unless, you are feeling fiendish and want the authorities to go chasing after a weapon responsible for multiple acts of violence. There are so many ways to change the rifling marks it is not even funny.

    2. SET

      What makes you think these are for illegal acts? Very few assault weapons are used in crimes. The buyers are right wing gun nuts. The .50 BMG rifle is an anti-aircraft weapon with an effective range of a mile. Long range shooting is an old sport, pick a different caliber that’s not an anti-aircraft round sitting on the shelf, one that has to be hand loaded. When I ran for Congre$$ in 2006, I refused to take the NRA quiz, even though I’m a Life Member. I joined when it was “old school” before the Rethuglican takeover. The bonus is I get to vote for the Board of Directors (I never have) and get to see the cast of crazies running the outfit! It’s not criminals, it’s the crowd of “gun culture” that showed up armed at the Bundy protests, and their ilk.
      I’m well to the left of Bernie, but he’s in the $enate and can’t be too extreme, even though in Europe he’d be center left. It was covered in NC that Team Dem would rather lose with Hillary, than win with Bernie. He was cheated out of the nomination twice.

  3. Louis Fyne

    state-approved vigilantism is bad.

    Regardless of the topic, being just as stupid as the other side is not a winning strategy in life.

    1. Dave Johnson

      You have to use the tools that are available to you. If the court is going to allow this idiocy, the left would be stupid not to weaponize it as well as long as it available.

    2. JBird4049

      Yes, but these fools do not care about abortion or guns. It is about optics. It is also a fabulous way to jack up the pressure. Get those votes, donations, and campaign volunteers.

      Just as I wondered about some poor woman, sometimes an actual child, needing an abortion for serious health reasons like staying alive, but are being blocked by some fanatical blockheads seeing a payday, I wonder about gun control. Too often people don’t know anything about the gunz and use terms like “assault weapons” or “high power” that means whatever they want them to mean. How will they know what they are doing besides being vigilantes?

      The same Bozos who are going to be enabling the morals police are also those who have the money and the connections to get an abortion, a concealed carry permit, healthcare, or guards. Hell, they can afford a car, gasoline, food, and shelter with the police always taking their calls and their health seriously. If Governor Gavin “Goodhair” Newsom really cared about public health he would gotten the last single payer healthcare legislation passed. He could push legislation reforming policing or mental health, but that would offend powerful interests. If those Texas politicians really were concerned about the sanctity of life they would enable families to have enough food, shelter, and medical care. But that would cost money and mean taxes. Much better to enable vigilantes to hunt down the desperate and the poor.

      None of this is hard to see. The results of the actions and their reactions are obvious. But our Credentialed Class are morons too busy playing games to actually be competent or even doing the work that they were elected or appointed for.

      I can see these laws being used for almost anything. Drugs. Child welfare. Pollution. The undocumented. We have a nation of snitches and vigilantes. Oh, I know we can have public safety laws. Maybe a Vigilance Committee or a Committee on Public Safety. I realize that I am getting screwy, but seeing such folly is unnerving. Like Rehoboam and Jeroboam. There good reasons why the King’s Peace arose. It was not just for the sake of power, but for stability and even justice. Having law enforcement by sword or knife of everyone or any local lordling makes for a precarious and violent life. Vigilantism. If you want to see today where life is violent go to where the police are not trusted in the United States or in countries where the state no longer exist.

      I guess what is really wigging me out is what I see of the future.

        1. ambrit

          I say that the Supreme Court went “crazy conservative” back in 2000 with the Bush campaign versus the Gore campaign case in Florida. The Supreme Court dared to actually decide a National Presidential Election. That’s about as crazy as it gets.

          1. SET

            John Roberts was actively involved in the Bush v. Gore “Brooks Brother’s protest”. IIRC, so was Amy C. Barrett.

            1. ambrit

              Eventually, some future Supreme Executive will ask “rhetorically” to his Cabinet; “Will no one rid me of these meddlesome Supremes?” Then some ‘Alaska Back (to Russia)’ separatists will bomb said Court. This script writes itself.

    3. Lambert Strether

      > state-approved vigilantism is bad

      Looks more like both parties are working together by exploiting the culture wars to create a market in law enforcement. What could go wrong?

      1. ambrit

        Well, this is a case where the State is still maintaining it’s monopoly power over the use of violence, even though at second hand. It’s called Lawfare for a good reason. What should worry the State is that ‘Parrallel Institutions’ will rise up and develop their own systems for the use of ‘Coercive Violence.’
        This story is as old as the hills. Just watch any competently written Western.

  4. Gavin

    I’ve been hoping Democrats would adopt a F the Fing Fer strategy for a while rather than simply roll over and Complain About The Norms, but this certainly is the adult version of “If your friend jumped off a bridge, would you follow?”

    1. marym

      Newsome to Supreme Court: Everyone else is using vigilante law enforcement to push people off the bridge. I’m clever. I will use it to push people off the bridge too.

      Supreme Court to Newsome: 6-3 As the founders intended, vigilante law enforcement is a valid means of pushing people off the bridge. However this only applies to pushing people off the bridge who want to terminate a pregnancy, vote, or teach about slavery. Not people who want all the guns. LOL.

  5. John Moffett

    Of course these laws are stupid and offensive, but clearly the CA law is meant in part to demonstrate this fact. It would never have been conceived if not for the TX law on abortion. I expect it won’t even pass, but it is a shot across the bow to show that two could play this same game. Maybe we could also threaten to pass one on Confederate flags and monuments, or Nazi symbols. If enough of these laws get considered around the country, maybe both sides will back off.

    1. witters

      Well, they will certainly still be “both sides” and now even more pissed off at each other. Sounds like quite a win!

    2. ambrit

      This is the sort of dynamic that plays out until one side or another literally ‘breaks.’ Sometimes, both sides ‘break.’ Usually, one of the sides needs a fig leaf behind which to hide their shame attendant upon having to back down. Someone or something must be seen to force the retrograde motion.

  6. The Rev Kev

    The worse aspect of these laws is that internationally, the United States is being turned into a legal backwater and this has been going on for a very long time. Internationally, one country may actually quote a precedent from another country as a legal argument to change the local ones. The US has been loath to do this under the ‘not-invented-here’ doctrine but does anybody think that other countries will run off to copy either that Texas or Californian law? Or that public forfeiture law where police can seize your money and it is up to you to prove that it was not the result of criminal activity? The heart of good laws going back to the Magna Cart is that it is up to the State to prove your guilt. But now there is a reversion where it is up to the Individual to prove their innocence to the State. The suspension of habeas corpus in the US was a sign of this sea change.

    1. ruralcounsel

      Why should the US care about foreign law? Particularly since most foreign jurisdictions have nothing like our Constitution or Bill of Rights? There are good reasons US law doesn’t follow foreign law.

    2. Synoia

      The US deliberately chose not to follow British Law in 1776. It could not have chosen Napoleonic Law because that body of law did not exist 1776.

      The British system is characterized as Dictatorship by Parliament.

  7. drumlin woodchuckles

    The ConservaTexans have sown the wind. Will they reap the whirlwind?

    The most clarifying aspect of the proposed Newsom Law is that it reveals the invincible stupidity of the Cultural Liberals and that part of the Cultural Left which was contaminated by the subhumanist moral filth of pacifism. If they were smart ( which they are not and never ever will be) they would use the time remaining to catch up as close as possible to the Conservative Community in terms of Gun Culture knowledge and guns-and-ammo mass-quantity ownership.

    A subhuman pacifist law like this is where the Liberals and much of the Left will part ways permanently and irreversibly with the Pink Pistols sector of the LGBT community and with the Black Guns Matter sector of the Black Community. And increasingly with the Latino Guns Matter and the Asian Guns Matter and the Pacific Islander Guns Matter sectors of those communities and other such Minority Guns Matter sectors as will arise.

    1. SouthSideGT

      “subhumanist moral filth of pacifism” OMG. LOL.

      I am sure somewhere sometime Kurt Vonnegut is laughing as hard as I am.

      I haven’t heard or read anything about the Pink Pistols for about twenty years. But to your point I’m sure the PP and Latino, and Asian, and Pacific Islander, and Black Guns Matter groups have ALREADY parted ways “permanently and irreversibly” with (wow) “the Liberals and much of the Left”.

      As an aside it always seems that the “gun control debate” itself, or the very fact that someone may possibly imagine at sometime in the future doing something no matter how small to maybe slow down the criminally easy availability of guns in this demented country and save lives is ALWAYS met with a disproportionate amount of fanaticism.

      I am not sure WHY CA wants to allow private citizens in his state sue gun makers to stop them from selling assault weapons. Maybe it’s to give people something to do with their free time. Maybe those same people will (wow) “learn about gunz”. (That will make gun enthusiasts, who are NEVER happy, happy for a brief time.) Maybe it will encourage more donations to the Democratic Party. Maybe it’s to rub it in the noses of the SCOTUS. Maybe it’s to actually save lives.

      1. ruralcounsel

        I thought it was already illegal to purchase or own “assault weapons” in California, let alone for anyone to sell them openly. In which case, I fail to see why any Californians would have any standing to sue manufacturers.

        1. SouthSideGT

          I am pretty sure that lawyers never ask a question they already know the answer to so I would fain hear more of your opening statement on standing regarding (wow) assault weapons and a law that hasn’t been written yet. Counsel may continue. :)

  8. George Phillies

    I believe that the point of the California Law is to persuade the Supreme Court that the Texas law should be found Unconstitutional. Indeed, one of the conservative justices pointed out that the Newsom maneuver would be pulled.

    1. Lambert Strether

      > I believe that the point of the California Law is to persuade the Supreme Court that the Texas law should be found Unconstitutional

      Virtue signaling is generally mildly offensive. As opposed to being insanely dangerous.

    1. Synoia

      The best solution to homelessness was demolished by Regan.

      We were warned that what we now have would happen.

      Why are there so many homeless in CA? Because one can live on the streets all year without freezing.

  9. ruralcounsel

    This California approach with firearms will end up as the “Shoot Your Neighbor or Ex Act” since it will encourage violence and retaliation between people who know and narc on each other. Not very well thought out, IMO.

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