If Texans can sue abortion providers, blue states can sue 'ghost gun' manufacturers: California governor

If Texans can sue abortion providers, blue states can sue 'ghost gun' manufacturers: California governor

Although much of the criticism of Texas Senate Bill 8 — a draconian law that greatly restricts abortions in the Lone Star State — has come from liberals, progressives, Democrats and centrists, some right-wing libertarians have been scathing critics of the law as well. Their argument is that if the Texas law can encourage citizens to sue abortion providers, it would only be a matter of time until someone in a blue state proposed that such a tactic be used against gun manufacturers. And sure enough, California Gov. Gavin Newsom is proposing that the Texas “precedent” be used to “let Californians sue those who put ghost guns and assault weapons on our streets.”

On December 11, Newsom tweeted:

Newsom’s proposal, however, isn’t going as far as what some right-wing libertarians predicted; he isn’t talking about suing run-of-the-mill California gun shops that legally sell handguns and obey the state’s gun control laws. But he is talking about people who sell ghost guns online or sell assault weapons in violation of California laws. Ghost guns are firearms that are put together from kits and do not carry serial numbers.

Reporting on Newsom’s proposal in the liberal/progressive Mother Jones, journalist Dan Friedman explains, “Texas lawmakers used an audacious strategy to get their controversial abortion law past the Supreme Court: empowering private citizens to sue abortion providers and anyone who ‘aids and abets’ patients trying to obtain the procedure in the state after six weeks. But the lawmakers may not have anticipated what their law could inspire. Now, California Gov. Gavin Newsom says that he plans to borrow the tactic to advance his own measure that would allow private citizens to sue gun manufacturers or people who sell assault weapons or so-called ghost guns.”

Newsom, according to Friedman, has “suggested damages of at least $10,000 per violation.”

“Newsom’s announcement is a bold political gambit likely to prove popular with progressive voters in his state and elsewhere,” Friedman observes. “But it’s not immediately clear if it will work legally. California has long banned the manufacture and sale of so-called assault-style weapons, including semi-automatic rifles like the popular AR-15. A federal judge ruled, in June, that the state’s law is unconstitutional in an opinion in which he compared AR-15s to Swiss Army knives.”

Diego Zambrano, a law professor at Stanford University, discussed Newsom’s proposal with the San Jose Mercury News — saying, “The Supreme Court has never said that states cannot regulate the sale of assault weapons. That is different. In this sense, California is being better than Texas. What Texas was doing is directly attacking a recognized federal constitutional right. (Newsom is) not attacking a well-recognized federal constitutional right to an assault weapon, because that right has never been recognized.”

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