Federal law says that you cannot sue a gun company or licensed dealer for the actions of a third party unless they somehow broke the law in providing that firearm. It’s been on the books for years now, even if anti-gunners don’t like it.
However, California has decided to model a bill after the Texas law that allows people to sue abortion providers that would, in theory, circumvent precisely that law.
And now, it’s passed committee.
In response to recent gun violence across the state and nation, lawmakers are pushing ahead with efforts to strengthen gun laws in California.
Two bills aiming to bolster California’s gun laws cleared key committees on Tuesday.
“While in California we pride ourselves having fairly strict gun control laws, we’ve done better than other states but still, not good enough,” said Assembly Member Phil Ting, D-San Francisco.
Assembly Bill 1594 passed its first hearing in the Assembly Judiciary Committee in a 7-2 vote.
The bill would allow private citizens, local governments and the state attorney general to sue gun makers and sellers. Supporters said the measure would make sure the gun industry faces accountability like every other industry.
“I don’t think it’s very fair that the toy industry has a lot more liability than the gun industry,” Ting said.
Except, that’s not remotely accurate.
If a firearm malfunctions and causes injury, it can be sued just like any other company can if its product malfunctions and causes harm.
What protections it has only protect them from lawsuits stemming from the actions of other parties. In other words, you can’t sue Glock because a criminal with a Glock shot you unless you can show Glock did something wrong that contributed to that shooting.
California is trying to run an end-around that law and pretending their holding gun companies to the same standards.
However, as gun rights advocates have pointed out for years, no one is trying to sue Toyota for drunk drivers.
In other words, yes, gun companies have protections other companies don’t have, but only because they’ve needed protections other industries haven’t.
For what it’s worth, I don’t see this law surviving challenge because federal law supersedes it.
Yet that’s going to be a costly fight that shouldn’t have to be waged. Further, since few criminals are lawfully buying guns, it’s clearly not the place to look.
Then again, this is California. They’re not known for disagreeing with gun control measures. They’ll pass this not because they think it’ll make the state safer, but because they just don’t want people being able to buy guns in the state.
If they can make it more costly to do business in California, they may well hope that companies will just opt not to sell guns in California.
Then again, with the rules already in place, not many actually are.
Frankly, this law is going to be a complete trainwreck and I really, really wish the state of California could be punished for passing it knowing damn good and well it goes beyond their authority. Since they can’t, we’ll just have to be content to see it overturned by the courts.