Newsom signs bill establishing gun industry "code of conduct" designed by anti-gun advocates

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

California Gov. Gavin Newsom is continuing the state’s Infringeapalooza Festival of gun control, signing a new bill into law on Tuesday that creates a “code of conduct” for the firearms industry to operate in the state and encourages lawsuits against companies that to be sued by individuals, political subdivisions, and the state Attorney General for violations.

The new “code” is in reality a list of demands for gun manufacturers, distributors, and retailers, and seems designed to produce lawsuits rather than increasing public safety. There’s a lot of incredibly vague language about the industry having to establish and enforce “reasonable controls” over the downstream use of their products (which is problematic enough), as well as subjective standards for whether or not a firearm should be considered “abnormally dangerous”.

(c) A firearm industry member shall not manufacture, market, import, offer for wholesale sale, or offer for retail sale a firearm-related product that is abnormally dangerous and likely to create an unreasonable risk of harm to public health and safety in California. For the purposes of this subdivision, the following shall apply:
(1) A firearm-related product shall not be considered abnormally dangerous and likely to create an unreasonable risk of harm to public health and safety based on a firearm’s inherent capacity to cause injury or lethal harm.
(2) There shall be a presumption that a firearm-related product is abnormally dangerous and likely to create an unreasonable risk of harm to public health and safety if any of the following is true:
(A) The firearm-related product’s features render the product most suitable for assaultive purposes instead of lawful self-defense, hunting, or other legitimate sport and recreational activities.
(B) The firearm-related product is designed, sold, or marketed in a manner that foreseeably promotes conversion of legal firearm-related products into illegal firearm-related products.
(C) The firearm-related product is designed, sold, or marketed in a manner that is targeted at minors or other individuals who are legally prohibited from accessing firearms.

As you can see by the last line, the new law (like another newly signed bill that’s already being challenged in court) also seeks to eradicate youth shooting sports in the state by making it an “actionable” offense to design or market a product meant for youth shooters. That single-shot Crickett rifle that I used to teach my own kids how to shoot safely and responsibly? Yeah, that would be considered “abnormally dangerous” under this new law simply because of its size and youth-friendly design.

Democrats are busy patting themselves on the back after Newsom put pen to paper, with the governor himself speaking more harshly about the firearms industry than the violent criminals who are getting slaps on the wrist thanks to far-left prosecutors like George Gascon in Los Angeles.

Democratic lawmakers said they crafted the legislation, which was sponsored by Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta, to work within the boundaries of a federal law that shields manufacturers and dealers from certain lawsuits.

“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 in a statement. “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.”

Under Newsom’s standard, if you get into a car accident and someone’s driving a Ford, you should be able sue the automaker even if there was no design defect or mechanical issue responsible. The driver could be drunk and behind the wheel without a license, but the car company should still be held liable for their misuse of the vehicle, at least according to the governor.

Now, there’s no way that Newsom would actually apply that standard to any industry other than the firearms industry. He’s not talking about lawsuits based on design defects or manufacturing errors. He wants to hold gun companies responsible for the criminal misuse of their products, even if they’re lawfully manufactured and legally sold in compliance with every one of the dozens of gun control laws on the books in California.

This isn’t about “gun safety.” It’s not even about gun control. It’s about bankrupting gun makers through junk lawsuits and implicitly prohibiting education and training for younger shooters with an end goal of eradicating the right to keep and bear arms for all.

I have no doubt that Newsom’s ultimately going to lose this fight, but in the meantime countless Californians are going to continue to suffer the consequences of the Democrats’ refusal to acknowledge our fundamental right to keep and bear arms. California criminals, on the other hand, don’t seem to be impeded in the slightest by the state’s infringements on the rights of legal gun owners. Why would they be? Virtually every one of the new laws signed by the governor and approved by the Democratic-dominated legislature are aimed squarely at those trying to lawfully exercise their Second Amendment rights, not those willing and wanting to use a gun to aid in their criminal endeavors.

Aug 18, 2022 5:30 PM ET