By DON THOMPSON Associated Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California retaliated on Friday against two recent landmark decisions by the United States Supreme Court as Governor Gavin Newsom signed a controversial gun control law, the first in the country, inspired of a Texas anti-abortion law and urged other states to follow suit.
He acted a month after conservative justices struck down constitutional abortion rights and undermined gun control laws in states like California.
Newsom brought the two hot topics together by approving a law allowing people to sue anyone who distributes illegal assault weapons, parts that can be used to make weapons, weapons without serial numbers or .50 caliber rifles.
“We’re tired of being on the defensive in this move,” he said.
“It’s time to put them on the defensive. You cannot sell, you cannot manufacture, you cannot transfer these illegal weapons of war and mass destruction into the State of California. And if you do, there are 40 million people who can collect $10,000 from you, plus attorney fees, for engaging in this illegal activity.
Lawmakers modeled the bill, at Newsom’s request, on a Texas law allowing citizens to sue anyone who provides or helps provide an abortion. The US Supreme Court has given preliminary approval to the Texas law, but the California law will automatically be struck down if the Texas law is ultimately found to be unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court’s support for the Texas law was “a terrible decision,” Newsom said. However, “if they’re going to use this framework to put women’s lives at risk, we’re going to use it to save people’s lives here in the state of California.”
Newsom also placed $30,000 of full page advertisements in three Texas newspapers on Friday criticizing what he said is Gov. Greg Abbott’s hypocrisy on gun safety. The ads reproduce Abbott’s comment on children’s right to life, but replace “gun violence” where he said “abortion.”
“Governor Newsom should be focused on all jobs and businesses leaving California and coming to Texas,” Abbott spokeswoman Renae Eze responded.
It’s a similar tactic to the TV ad that Newsom, a Democratic re-election contender, recently aired in Florida targeting Governor Ron DeSantis. Newsom again denied presidential aspirations on Friday, even fueling that speculation.
“I can’t stand what’s going on in this country,” Newsom said when explaining the ads. “I can’t take the assault on liberty and freedom, I can’t take the rhetoric, I can’t take the… the bullying, the demonizing zest from these governors, not just Abbott, DeSantis, but many of these other governors.”
An unusual combination of gun owner advocates and the American Civil Liberties Union have criticized Newsom for creating what they say amounts to a bounty system to encourage such prosecutions. The ACLU called the California law an “attack on the constitution” for deliberately attempting to circumvent judicial review by allowing enforcement by citizens, not governments, and for undermining due process rights.
“It’s about these two big issues that we face. And you can’t have a double standard. You can’t have one standard for guns and another for women’s reproductive health. It’s not fair,” Democratic Senator Robert Hertzberg, who championed the bill, said in an interview.
Affiliated gun control advocacy organizations Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action supported the bill’s potential to combat unobtainable “phantom guns.”
Newsom signed the bill at Santa Monica College, where five victims were killed in 2013 by a gunman using such a weapon.
The new law “will make it easier for victims of phantom gun violence like me to help enforce our laws,” said Mia Tretta, who was shot in Santa Clarita in a 2019 attack at Saugus High School. She is now an incoming elder and a volunteer with Students Demand Action.
Newsom became emotional when Tretta introduced him. He later said he couldn’t help but remember his optimism as he visited her in hospital after a stroke which he said personalized the danger to him as the father of a daughter. preteen himself.
Aside from the bill’s merits, opponents say it’s drafted to discourage any legal challenges to California’s myriad gun regulations by requiring plaintiffs or attorneys to pay attorney’s fees if they lose. the trial.
This part of the law “is intended to make it impossible to file a Second Amendment challenge to an unconstitutional gun control law. That in itself is unconstitutional,” said Chuck Michel, president of the California Rifle and Pistol Association.
Newsom acted a day after signing eight more gun laws among many measures adding to California’s already tough regulations.
They encourage safe storage of firearms and restrict the manufacture of weapons, including with a 3D printer.
Others ban gun sales on state property, strengthen inspections of gun dealers, limit dealer fees, and add child and elder abuse to the list of crimes that prevent possession of firearms.
The governor recently signed another bill modeled after a New York law that allows anyone who has been harmed to sue gun manufacturers or dealers who fail to follow precautions under a “standard conduct of the firearms industry”.
He further slammed the High Court and conservative Republicans in a video message after signing two previous gun bills, one also dealing with ghost guns and the other banning the marketing of guns. to minors.
California and New York are also working to update their laws governing the concealed carry of firearms after the country’s High Court ruled that Americans have the right to carry guns in public for self-defense. .
New York Governor Kathy Hochul called lawmakers back to a special session to approve changes that will take effect Sept. 1, including requiring gun owners to allow a review of their social media accounts. . California lawmakers plan to act in August on concealed carry restrictions.
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