Governor Newsom Signs Nation’s First Legislation Allowing Individuals to Sue Those Who Distribute Illegal Weapons

Governor Gavin Newsom visits Santa Monica College to sign SB 1327 on Friday, July 22, 2022. (Governor’s Office)

By Robert J. Hansen

Sacramento, CA – Governor Gavin Newsom signed the nation’s first legislation—allowing individuals to sue anyone who distributes illegal assault weapons and ghost guns—yesterday at Santa Monica College, the site of a mass shooting that claimed the lives of six people including the gunman in 2013 according to a press statement from the Governor’s Office.

“Our message to the criminals spreading illegal weapons in California is simple,” Newsom said. “You have no safe harbor here in the Golden State. While the Supreme Court rolls back reasonable gun safety measures, California continues adding new ways to protect the lives of our kids. California will use every tool at its disposal to save lives, especially in the face of an increasingly extreme Supreme Court.”

Authored by Senator Bob Hertzberg (D-San Fernando Valley), SB1327 allows Californians to sue anyone making, selling, transporting, or distributing illegal assault weapons and ghost guns for at least $10,000 per weapon.

The same damages are also available against gun dealers who illegally sell firearms to those under 21 years of age, according to the statement.

The legislation is modeled after Texas’ anti-abortion bill which places $10,000 bounties on doctors, providers, and others involved in providing life-saving abortion care.

When the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Texas law last fall, Governor Newsom called on the California legislature to pass a similar bill to increase gun safety.

“For the sake of our children, this is a common sense step toward ensuring California streets, schools, and communities continue to be among the safest in the nation,” Senator Hertzberg said after the Governor signed SB 1327 into law.

Attorney General Rob Bonta is proud of joining the Governor as SB1327 was signed into law.

“While some politicians put up roadblocks or say nothing can be done, here in California we are once again proving we can take on the gun lobby and protect our communities,” Bonta said. “We have the strongest gun safety laws in the nation, and one of the lowest firearm mortality rates. This is not a coincidence. More guns do not make us safer—laws like these do.”

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), California’s death rate by guns is the seventh lowest in the country in 2020. Hawaii, Massachusetts and New Jersey have the lowest rates for gun deaths while Mississippi, Louisiana and Wyoming have the highest rates for firearm deaths in the United States.

Firearm mortality rates by state in 2020. (CDC)

Bonta said he is committed to enforcing California’s common sense gun safety laws, keeping weapons of war off the streets and out of the hands of dangerous individuals.

That didn’t prevent some from lashing out at the governor on Twitter.

“At this point, all you’re doing is wasting taxpayer dollars defending unconstitutional mandates,” @StuartPidasso said via Twitter.

“LMFAO, you have the highest rates of violence,” @VetChiefJeff said.

Not only are “rates of violence” different from firearm mortality rates, but that is also not accurate.

In 202, California’s violent crime ranked 17th according to the FBI Crime Reports. Alaska, New Mexico and Tennessee ranked in the top three for violent crime rates that year.

Rates of violent crime by the state in 2020. (FBI Crime Reports)

California’s gun safety policies save lives and provide a national model for other states to follow, according to the Giffords Law Center.

In 2021, California was ranked as the top state in the nation for gun safety and, as California strengthened its gun laws, the state saw a 37 percent lower gun death rate than the national average.

Meanwhile, other states such as Florida and Texas, with lax gun regulations, saw double-digit increases in the rate of gun deaths according to Giffords Law Center.

“Untraceable ghost guns purchased without background checks have fueled gun violence throughout California and the nation for far too long,” Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, said. “Thanks to leadership by common sense lawmakers and relentless advocacy from our grassroots army, California continues to lead the nation in taking life-saving action to combat ghost guns.”

About The Author

Robert J Hansen is an investigative journalist and economist. Robert is covering the Yolo County DA's race for the Vanguard.

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