California Passes New Gun Laws After Supreme Court Ruling
Less than a month after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against restrictions on carrying guns in public in a substantial victory for 2nd Amendment advocates, California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed at least three major gun control measures to restrict access to guns and create an avenue for private citizens to sue the industry.
On Tuesday, Newsom signed one of the most high-profile bills on a list of more than a dozen he has prioritized this year amid a nationwide spike in gun violence. Assembly Bill 1594 sets a “firearms industry standard of conduct” and enables local governments, the state Department of Justice, and survivors of gun violence to sue for gross violations of state sales regulations and marketing.
Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) and other Democratic lawmakers said they crafted the legislation, which was sponsored by Atty. General Rob Bonta, for working within the confines of a federal law that protects manufacturers and dealers from certain lawsuits.
“To victims of gun violence and their families: California stands with you. The gun industry can no longer hide from the devastating harm its products are causing,” Newsom said in a statement. , our families and communities deserve streets free of gun violence and gun manufacturers must be held accountable for their role in this crisis. Almost all industries are held responsible when people are injured or killed by their products – firearms should be no different.
The new law will come into force on July 1, 2023, while others will be implemented immediately due to an emergency clause, which required a two-thirds majority vote in both houses of the Legislative Assembly. . Two Newsom bills signed into law on June 30 will limit advertising firearms to minors and to add restrictions against already highly regulated ghost guns.
Newsom signed the laws amid deep national division over whether more gun restrictions are needed to stem a gun violence crisis, including two recent mass shootings in Buffalo, NY and Uvalde. , Texas, which left dozens dead, including 19 children.
In the wake of those tragedies, Newsom and leading legislative Democrats pledged to act quickly on a package of proposals to further tighten the state’s gun regulations, already the toughest in the nation. Since then, seven more people have died in a mass shooting in Highland ParkIllinois, in a parade on July 4, the same day five people were shotone fatally, in downtown Sacramento, near the State Capitol.
As public opinion swung in favor of gun control, Congress passed bipartisan legislation that prevents violent intimate partners from buying guns and encourages states to pass so-called red flag laws. President Biden signed it into law on June 25.
Two days earlier, the US Supreme Court struck down a New York law that required people to prove a “special need for self-protection” in order to get guns out of their homes. The Ruling 6-3 creates legal hazard for a slew of national gun laws and hangs over the bills Newsom has signed into law.
Sam Paredes, executive director of the Gun Owners of California, said many bills likely violate the 1st, 2nd and 14th Amendments.
“None of this stuff, none of the bills that go to the governor’s office that he’s going to sign pass this [constitutional] test, in our opinion. And I think we will find out in court if our opinion is correct,” Paredes said.
Daniel Reid, Western Regional Director of the National Rifle Assn., also raised serious concerns about restrictions on youth advertising, which he said were “clearly unconstitutional on 1st Amendment grounds.” . Reid said those regulations could hamper conservation and hunting efforts, as well as gun training and educational opportunities for young people.
While gun rights advocates argue the Supreme Court ruling now makes it harder for states to pass new rules, experts say there is still legal leeway to test constitutional limits. .
“It’s unclear where the court will draw the line,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of UC Berkeley Law. “I think there’s a strong argument that this is all constitutional. There will also be an argument that they are unconstitutional. I think it’s important to pass the laws and then see where the court will draw the line.
UCLA Law School professor Eugene Volokh said the Supreme Court’s decision limits the scope of the laws, but some restrictions may still be “allowed.”
“Unsurprisingly, legislatures may continue to try to regulate [guns]”, Volokh said. They will have to proceed with more caution, he added, acknowledging that firearms “are now in a zone of considerable constitutional protection”.
Newsom is expected to sign more gun bills this month and August, after lawmakers return from their summer recess and this year’s legislative session adjourns. Among them is Senate Bill 1327a closely watched proposal to increase industry legal accountability by allowing private prosecutions against anyone who imports, distributes, manufactures or sells illegal firearms such as assault weapons, .50 BMG rifles and so-called ghosts.
Newsom gained national attention in December when he called for the legislation as a way to test the Supreme Court’s legal logic in refusing to block a Texas law that allows individuals to sue anyone who aids and abets an abortion.
California has long required applicants to prove ‘good cause’ to obtain a concealed carry firearms permit, but the New York Supreme Court ruling has made that requirement unconstitutional, Bonta said shortly after the decision. Even so, Newsom said he has been working closely with the attorney general and legislative leaders “for months” on Senate Bill 918which would “update and strengthen our public porting law and make it consistent with the Supreme Court ruling.”
The bill seeks to clarify where firearms are prohibited in California, including in schools and universities, public transportation, bars and public parks. Gun owners who wish to obtain a concealed carry permit would also face a stricter application process and additional storage and training requirements. Lawmakers approved the bill at a key committee hearing last month.
“This is essential legislation to strengthen our existing concealed carry laws and ensure that every Californian is safe from gun violence,” said Sen. Anthony Portantino, a La Cañada Flintridge Democrat and author of SB 918. “We must be diligent in addressing the epidemic of gun violence in our country, and concealed carry laws are a key part of that effort.”