California lawmakers introduce bill that would let citizens sue gun sellers

Politics

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — State lawmakers on Tuesday introduced a bill that would allow private citizens to sue gun makers and sellers over shootings. 

Assembly Bill 1594 would allow victims of shootings, including citizens, cities and counties, to sue gun makers and sellers on claims the industry acted recklessly and dangerously. 

“If we can sue car dealers, if we can sue lawyers for malpractice, if we can sue a barrage of individuals, why shouldn’t people of the state of California have the same ability to sue a gun manufacturer?” Assemblyman Mike Gipson, D-Carson, said. 

The announcement comes after Gov. Gavin Newsom pushed for a similar idea after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed Texas to continue with a law that takes a similar legal approach to abortion. 

Lawmakers on Tuesday also said they have been working on a specific bill for six months, adding that it’s different and separate from the governor’s push. 

“This gets at the spirit of what the governor was asking, which is that ordinary Californians have the ability to hold the gun industry accountable,” Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, said. 

Policymakers said cases get tossed out right now in the early stages of a lawsuit depending on how judges interpret legal protections for the gun industry. 

“This policy would not create liability or mean every case against the gun industry is successful. It simply means people will be ensured they’ll have an opportunity to pursue valid claims against irresponsible, wreckless, dangerously acting gun dealers,” Tanya Shardt, senior counsel for the Brady Campaign, said. 

Republican Assembly Public Safety Committee Vice Chair Tom Lackey said the proposal is political banter. 

“It’s not common sense, it’s common stupidity. I don’t mean any disrespect to my colleagues. It totally maligns the sense of personal responsibility, which is the big problem that we’re having with this,” Lackey, R-Palmdale, said. “I don’t like to use the term gun violence because it turns the direction of the attention on the instrument instead of the behavior.”

With little written in the actual bill text as of Tuesday, a spokesperson for the National Rifle Association said it’s impossible to comment on what is obviously a placeholder bill. 

The bill now waits to be referred to a committee, with hearings likely to start in the spring. 

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