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Tuesday, July 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Raft of gun control bills on fast track to passage in California

One of the bills a step closer to passage: a Texas-style law to let private citizens sue gun manufacturers and sellers who deal in firearms that are illegal in the Golden State.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — California Assembly Democrats have taken to heart comments from Governor Gavin Newsom to fast-track gun control legislation, moving several bills through committee Wednesday.

Modeled after a Texas law passed this year that allows private rights of action against people who provide or aid in abortions, Senate Bill 1327 would allow individuals to bring a civil actions against gun manufacturers and gun dealers who make or sell firearms that are illegal under California law — even if the weapon is not used in a crime.

“We have an epidemic of ghost guns on our streets,” state Senator Robert Hertzberg, one of the bill's authors and a Democrat from the San Fernando Valley, said. “This legislation would provide another tool to help eliminate ghost guns; while at the same time not infringing on the rights of gun owners.”

Other guns deemed illegal by California law include those which have had their serial numbers filed off and assault weapons.

The ACLU of California voiced concerns about SB 1327 similar to issues raised over the Texas law. In comments to the Legislature, the group said the proposed legislation would create an end-run around the courts and constitutional rights; creating a “bounty-hunter” scheme whereby private individuals can harass and intimidate gun dealers and manufacturers through lawsuits.

Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, a Republican from Madera and vice-chair of the Assembly Appropriations Committee, blasted Democrats for not following committee rules. Under the rules, each piece of the gun control legislation must go to the suspend calendar until the members of the committee have had a chance to review the fiscal impacts of the legislation. He said ignoring the rules sets a poor precedent for the future.

Other gun control legislation sailed through committee with most earning strong support from Democrats except for one.

Senate Bill 906, which would direct school districts to report credible mass casualty threats to local law enforcement and require districts to provide information every year about the safe storage of firearms to parents, was supported by committee Democrats. The legislation would create some onetime costs for the California Department of Justice to develop best practices for school districts and then ongoing mailing costs for school districts.

Committee Democrats also supported Senate Bill 1384, albeit with some changes. The bill would require gun stores to have an alarm system installed along with video and audio surveillance inside the store in hopes of decreasing theft and straw purchases. Training on straw purchases for gun dealers and a requirement for exterior video surveillance at gun stores has been scrapped.

But committee Democrats had qualms about Senate Bill 915, most notably Assemblyman Bill Quirk from the East San Francisco Bay, who said banning gun shows from county fairgrounds would mean they'll crop up in less secure locations.

Assembly Republican leader James Gallagher sent out several tweets saying more gun control laws do not lead to a safer California and that more needs to be done about those suffering from a mental health crisis or radicalized by hate.

Categories / Government, Law, Regional

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