Newsom's new bill to target gun makers is a pure political stunt

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File

Standing in front of the southern California fairgrounds where gun shows are banned thanks to a bill he signed into law in 2019, California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared on Friday morning that he’s not opposed to law-abiding gun owners or the firearms they used… but he is going full speed ahead with a proposal designed to target the firearms industry through junk lawsuits.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday backed legislation that would let private citizens enforce the state’s ban on assault weapons. It’s modeled after a Texas law that lets private citizens enforce that state’s ban on abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected.

“If Texas can use a law to ban a woman’s right to chose and to put her health at risk, we will use that same law to save lives and improve the health and safety of the people in the state of California,” Newsom said at a news conference Friday.

Details of the legislation remain unclear, but the bill’s sponsor indicates that it will be fairly broad.

Senate Majority Leader Emeritus Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, joined the governor to announce the new legislation intended to limit the spread of dangerous assault weapons and ghost guns utilizing similar tactics to Texas’ recent abortion law.

“In a just world, a woman’s right to choose would be sacrosanct, and California’s people would be protected from ghost guns and assault weapons,” Hertzberg said. “Sadly, a misguided Supreme Court seems determined to turn common sense on its head.

“With this bill, we take advantage of the court’s flawed logic to protect all Californians and save lives,” he said. “I look forward to rushing this new bill to the governor’s desk to take advantage of the court’s guidance to create a safer California.”

The Texas anti-abortion law that Hertzberg is supposedly modeling his new gun control bill after bars abortions from taking place after the 16th week of pregnancy, but leaves enforcement entirely up to private citizens who can sue abortion providers in civil court. It’s unclear to me how exactly that’s going to translate to California’s gun control laws, which obviously come complete with criminal penalties up to and including prison time for possessing an “assault weapon” or an unserialized firearm that isn’t registered with the California Department of Justice.

I can’t imagine that Hertzberg’s bill is going to repeal the criminal penalties for selling or purchasing a so-called assault weapon or “ghost gun,” so I’m guessing that this bill isn’t going to be the mirror image of the Texas law that Newsom claims it to be. And these differences may be enough to sink Newsom’s bill in the courts if and when it does become law in California, if the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act doesn’t kill it off first.

If that happens, Newsom would undoubtably yammer about the decision demonstrating the godawful partisan conservative bias on the Supreme Court, right? This entire thing is a shameless political stunt calculated to give Newsom multiple opportunities to claim both champion and victim status at various points throughout the stunt’s news cycle, and I’m sure he’ll take advantage of every opportunity to preen in front of the camera while pretending that he doesn’t have any issue with gun owners or the Second Amendment.

Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, said it was time to hold the firearm industry accountable.

“Every industry in the United States is held responsible for the products they sell, except one. The gun industry,” he said.

Newsom agreed.

“We are all victims of their greed, their avarice,” he said. “We’ll start playing by their rules.”

Ting repeated Joe Biden’s lie about the firearms industry and Gavin Newsom nodded along and shamelessly cast gun companies as villains, saying not a word about the individuals who ignore every one of the state’s panoply of gun laws and pull the trigger during armed robberies, home invasions, carjackings, and drug deals gone bad. Newsom didn’t mention San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin or Los Angeles D.A. George Gascon either, despite the fact that both are facing recalls for their soft-on-crime policies.

If Newsom really believes that the blame for California’s crime lies with the firearms industry, then I’ve got an idea for an even better political stunt. Put the state’s money where his mouth is and immediately freeze all state expenditures on firearms and ammunition. No new guns for state agencies. No more ammunition for state police, including the detail that protects the governor. Why settle for simply aping the anti-abortion legislation from Texas Republicans when you can show the world what California progressivism is really all about?

Two years ago Newsom might have actually gone for that, but now that Democrats are running away from their defund the police rhetoric I know the governor will keep hypocritically relying on the firearms industry for his own personal protection, while trying to make it a criminal (and now a civil) offense for others to do the same.