As a way to further hold the gun industry accountable, Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation Monday allowing the state, local governments and Californians to sue gun makers.
AB 1594, authored by Assemblymembers Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), Mike A. Gipson (D-Carson) and Chris Ward (D-San Diego), allows individuals, local governments and the California Attorney General to sue irresponsible manufacturers and sellers of firearms for the harm caused by their products, according to a news release.
“To the victims of gun violence and their families: California stands with you. The gun industry can no longer hide from the devastating harm their products cause,” Governor Newsom said. “Our kids, families and communities deserve streets free of gun violence and gun makers must be held accountable for their role in this crisis. Nearly every industry is held liable when people are hurt or killed by their products – guns should be no different.”
According to Ting, gun violence is now the leading cause of death among kids and teens in the United States, surpassing car accidents.
“I see no better argument for stronger gun safety legislation,” said Ting. “For far too long, the firearms industry has enjoyed federal immunity from civil lawsuits, providing them no incentive for them to follow our laws. Hitting their bottom line may finally compel them to step up to reduce gun violence by preventing illegal sales and theft.”
In 2005, Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which shields gun manufacturers and dealers from civil suits when crimes are committed using the guns they produce, according to a news release by the Governor’s office. AB 1594 utilizes an exemption to the federal statute that allows gun makers or sellers to be sued for violations of state laws concerning the sale or marketing of firearms.
“This bill is a significant step toward holding irresponsible, reckless and negligent gun manufacturers, distributors and sellers accountable,” said Ward. “The U.S. has less than 5% of the world’s population, yet we make up nearly a third of the world’s mass shootings. I’m proud to joint author AB 1594 and support other common sense gun reforms that will help make our communities safer.”
California’s gun safety policies save lives and provide a national model for other states to follow. According to the Giffords Law Center, in 2021, California was ranked as the top state in the nation for gun safety. As California strengthened its gun laws, the state saw a 37 percent lower gun death rate than the national average. Meanwhile, other states such as Florida and Texas, with lax gun regulations, saw double-digit increases in the rate of gun deaths, according to a news release. As a result of the actions taken by California, the state has cut its gun death rate in half and Californians are 25 percent less likely to die in a mass shooting compared to people in other states.
Last month, Newsom announced a record $156 million in gun violence prevention grants provided as part of the California Violence Intervention and Prevention Grant Program (CalVIP). The funding will support 79 cities and nonprofit organizations that are implementing anti-violence programs suited to the unique needs of their local communities.