Governor Newsom Signs Law Allowing Victims of Gun Crime To Sue Gun Manufacturers – Can It Possibly Be Enforced?

Toby Hazlewood

A novel way of combatting gun crime in California
Gun, bullets and constitutionShutterstock

On July 12, California's Governor Gavin Newsom took to Twitter to announce that he has signed a new law for California - one that will allow victims of gun violence to sue the manufacturers of the weapons used against them.

The immediate response to the new law has been mixed, and if it survives the inevitable legal challenge then it would take effect next summer.

Could it even be enforced?

Speaking on the newly introduced bill, Governor Newsom had this to say:

“If you’ve been hurt or a family member is a victim of gun violence, you can now go to court and hold these makers of deadly weapons accountable."

The law is also expected to be followed-up with a further bill allowing Californians to sue people or companies that distribute banned firearms like assault weapons.

The law is intended to be similar to the Texas law that allows citizens to sue those carry out illegal abortions of pregnancies or who help others to access them, but instead providing citizens with the right to sue gun manufacturers whose products have been used to commit violent acts.

There are bigger questions to be asked though - is it really practical to hold gun manufacturers to account for how their products are used and misused? Would it not be like suing a car manufacturer if their vehicle was used in a hit-and-run killing? Or suing a manufacturer of matches if their product was used by an arsonist to start a fire? Or suing a knife maker if their chef's knife was used to stab someone?

The parallels are endless and demonstrate that there may be plentiful legal challenges from gun-rights advocacy groups against this law.

Newsom's broader political agenda

The timing of this new announcement by Governor Newsom comes when he has been gaining publicity across the U.S. as a result of his recent TV advertising in the state of Florida, inviting Floridians to move to California "where we still believe in freedom".
Gov. Newsom's TV AdvertTwitter of GavinNewsom

The adverts have deepened the political feud between Newsom and Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis and have increased speculation that the two governors could be leading candidates for the 2024 presidential election for the two major political parties.

Newsom's clear stance in regard to guns on behalf of the Democrats as he announces this new law will clearly appeal to those voters who want to see increased controls around guns. In Florida meanwhile, Governor DeSantis has stated that he intends to push for constitutional carry of handguns and permit-less gun ownership before the end of his term as governor.

As the Newsom-DeSantis feud gathers momentum, it could be that political posturing on such high-profile issues starts to become more frequent in the coming months. Time will tell how it plays out.

Do you think the new law proposed by Governor Newsom will be enforced and applied in California? Do you believe that Newsom and DeSantis are starting early on a battle for the White House in 2024? Let me know in the comments section below.

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