California Gov. Gavin Newsom thought he was being clever. He took a controversial bill from Texas, switched a few things around, and created something “new.”
Never mind that there are profound and incontrovertible differences between gun rights and abortion. No, what matters is that Newsom is thumbing his nose at Texas.
And one California paper is taking issue with an editorial titled, “Newsom’s silly gun bill sets a bad precedent.”
However, Newsom took out full-page ads in Texas newspapers to brag about the law and the cleverness of adapting Texas’ trick to limit abortion rights into California’s trick to limit gun rights.
It’s all too clever by half. Using the same formula, a state could ban the publication of information that’s contrary to government-approved information, make the law enforceable only by private legal actions, and intimidate media companies out of publishing anything that contradicts a government official’s pronouncements.
It’s dangerous to try to limit constitutional rights through laws that enable lawsuits seeking cash bounties. The American Civil Liberties Union, which opposed SB 1327, said by enacting this law, “California will be promoting a legal end-run that can be used by any state to deny people an effective means to have their constitutional rights protected by the courts.” The ACLU predicted that California’s “endorsement” of this method would lead to an “arms race” of curtailing constitutional rights.
But legal action is slow and costly. It’s simply wrong for elected officials to play grandstanding political games that force citizens to defend against private lawsuits or challenge flawed laws in court to vindicate their constitutional rights.
I couldn’t agree more.
Cam and I both were less than pleased with the Texas law because we both realized this is what could happen. I’m unsurprised that it did and I’m unsurprised that it happened in California first.
And I won’t be surprised to see, in time, other such laws such as bounties for criticizing government officials or official government statements. I could see it being used to combat leaks from government offices, too.
The truth of the matter is that Newsom is playing a dangerous game, one he doesn’t really want to play. He probably thinks he does, but he doesn’t.
Couple this with his attempt to troll Texas Gov. Greg Abbot by buying ads in Texas newspapers and taunting the state isn’t the actions of a mature statesman. He’s petty, vindictive, and idiotic.
But I’m sure there are plenty of people on this side of the debate who can play vindictive, too.
After all, based on the way things are going, President Joe Biden is looking to be a one-term president. His successor, likely a Republican, will also likely have a GOP-controlled Congress. Now, picture a federal law that allows people injured in shootings to sue whatever entity declared a given space “gun-free” for damages, even if that entity is the state.
California, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and many others would probably go bankrupt and it wouldn’t be different than Newsom’s bill, now would it?
Don’t play with fire if you’re not interested in getting burned.