Judge strikes down California gun law modeled after Texas abortion rule

Gavin Newsom

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

A federal judge struck down a California gun law modeled after after a Texas abortion measure that allows Californians to sue those who make, sell, transport or distribute guns that are illegal in the Golden State. [Politico]

The ruling may lead to an extended court battle, something California Gov. Gavin Newsom appears to have been seeking.

After the U.S. Supreme Court in January ruled in favor of Texas’s ban on most abortion services, Newsom directed his administration to work with the California Legislature to draft a bill that would allow private citizens to sue anyone who manufactures, distributes, transports, imports into the state or sells assault weapons, .50 BMG rifles, ghost guns or ghost gun kits. Sen. Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) introduced the legislation, SB 1327, in February and Newsom signed it into law in July.

SB 1327 allows Californians to sue anyone who manufactures assault weapons, firearms without serial numbers or .50 BMG rifles in California — and to collect up to $10,000 in damages for doing so. Likewise, residents will be allowed to sue anyone who sells, transports or distributes such weapons, or the precursor parts to such firearms, in California.

Judge Roger Benitez issued an injunction against SB 1327. Benitez, who is based in San Diego, has previously struck down other California gun regulations. Newsom has ridiculed him for doing so.

Following the latest ruling, however, Newsom is thanking Benitez.

“I want to thank Judge Benitez. We have been saying all along that Texas’ anti-abortion law is outrageous. Judge Benitez just confirmed it is also unconstitutional,” Newsom said in a statement Monday. “The provision in California’s law that he struck down is a replica of what Texas did, and his explanation of why this part of SB 1327 unfairly blocks access to the courts applies equally to Texas’ SB 8.”

Benitez’s ruling includes remarks made by Newsom about the Texas abortion law, underscoring the ties between the two laws.

“‘It is cynical. It is an abomination. It is outrageous and objectionable. There is no dispute that it raises serious constitutional questions,’” Benitez wrote at the start of his ruling, quoting Newsom on the Texas law as evidence that by implication, the same is true of California’s law.

Benitez argues the California law goes further than the Texas one, though that may not be enough to shield the Texas measure from judicial scrutiny. Newsom has dared the United States Supreme Court to nullify California’s gun rules after allowing the Texas abortion restrictions to stand.

“The question is whether they are complete and abject hypocrites and frauds if they reject our bill that’s modeled after that abortion bill as it relates to private right of action to go after assault weapons,” Newsom said last year.