Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA) announced on Saturday that he is planning to enact an "assault weapons" ban modeled after the Texas abortion law SB8, specifically the part which allows affected private citizens to file a lawsuit over an alleged violation, rather than enforcement via a government official.
Nothing is official yet, but Newsom has instructed his staff to collaborate with the California legislature and attorney general to work on a proposed bill. "If the most efficient way to keep these devastating weapons off our streets is to add the threat of private lawsuits, we should do just that," Newsom said.
According to Axios, the bill, which is still being formulated, would state that "anyone who manufactures, distributes or sells an assault weapon or ghost gun kit or parts in the State of California" could be sued for up to $10,000 per violation plus costs and attorney's fees.
Texas's controversial Heartbeat Act not only bans abortions when a heartbeat can be detected but explicitly bans enforcement by government officials, stating that the law "shall be enforced exclusively through … private civil actions." The law reads that Texas authorizes "[a]ny person, other than an officer or employee of a state or local governmental entity in this state" to bring a civil lawsuit against a person who performs an abortion or knowingly aids one.
There are obvious pros and cons to Texas's law: Opponents said it could pave the way for performative lawsuits; advocates said it was a clever way to reduce abortions and take the government out of the issue. In a decision released Friday, the Supreme Court ruled that providers may proceed with their challenges in lower courts. The Justices did not rule on the actual merits of the law.
Still, whether you're for or against Texas's abortion law, Newsom's copycat gun law is bad any way you slice it. For starters, Democrats hated Texas's abortion law. Helen Kennedy, formerly at the Boston Herald, called it "diabolical." Steven Mazie at The Economist called the law "uniquely Draconian." Vice President Kamala Harris called the law an "all-out assault on reproductive health." I'm sure her pal Newsom agreed. So it's ironic that Democrats in California want to institute the same kind of law in California—this time with guns. In fact, it's really hypocritical. It's also unconstitutional.
Hypocrisy aside, there's a glaring difference between Texas's abortion law and this impending California law banning "assault" weapons: The Second Amendment is, and forever will be, a Constitutional right. Etched in stone into every Americans' list of unalienable rights is the controversial, but incredible, right to "keep and bear arms." The Supreme Court has affirmed this repeatedly. Abortion is not a Constitutional right, as several Supreme Court Justices alluded to in recent oral arguments on a hot-button case.
California already has a myriad of gun laws in place. U.S. News reported that "California has banned the manufacture and sale of many assault-style weapons for decades. A federal judge overturned that ban in June, ruling that it was unconstitutional and drawing the ire of the state's Democratic leaders by comparing the popular AR-15 rifle to a Swiss Army knife as 'good for both home and battle.'"
It's not clear what Newsom's new law will do, especially since, according to this statistic, gun violence is still remarkably high in California, despite its vast array of gun laws. Of course, if California's Democratic lawmakers would like to continue to increase gun laws in the false hope of reducing crime, or at least, endear itself to its voting bloc by enacting yet another unconstitutional gun law, they may do so. It just won't accomplish much good.
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