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Gov. Gavin Newsom on July 11 signed legislation allowing state, local governments and Californians to sue gun makers.
“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,” 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.”
Assembly Bill 1594, authored by Assemblymen 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.
“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. I thank the governor for signing AB 1594,” Ting said. “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.”
“There have been more mass shootings in our nation than days in the year, and yet many members of the gun industry continue to use a combination of bullying, exploitation and fear to rack up profits from the very tools used in these shootings,” Attorney General Rob Bonta said. “There is no reason that the gun industry should be the only industry exempt from responsibility for the harm that its products cause, especially when its products are responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans each year. In California, we refuse to settle with thoughts and prayers as innocent lives are lost. We demand and will deliver urgent action, now. I am grateful to the governor for signing AB 1594, which will allow Californians to hold the gun industry accountable for the harm caused by its products. In California, we won’t let this industry off the hook.”
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. 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.
“As a joint author of AB 1594, I proudly stand with my colleague from San Francisco, Assemblymember Phil Ting, in thanking the governor for signing this historic bill that challenges the stronghold of the gun lobby and brings justice to gun violence survivors,” Gipson said. “Our message is clear: California will not turn a blind eye to the gun industry’s direct responsibility for the killing machines they let flood our streets and murder our loved ones, day in and day out. Other industries and their products, even non-lethal, are held to this standard of accountability. Today, we stand together against the naysayers to create the type of parity that will save lives, setting a standard for others in the nation to follow.”
“This bill is a significant step toward holding irresponsible, reckless and negligent gun manufacturers, distributors and sellers accountable,” Ward said. “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.”
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