California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Saturday that he plans to propose an assault weapons ban modeled after Texas’ abortion law, The New York Times reports.
Texas earlier this year implemented a novel near-total abortion ban barring the procedure after six weeks, before most women know they are pregnant. But the state sought to avoid judicial review by delegating enforcement of the law to citizens, who can sue anyone who helps a woman get an abortion and win at least $10,000.
The Supreme Court last week allowed abortion providers to challenge the law in federal court but also let the law remain on the books while it is litigated.
Newsom first floated the idea of styling an assault weapons ban after the Texas law in a rage over the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the law to remain in place.
“SCOTUS is letting private citizens in Texas sue to stop abortion?!” Newsom tweeted. “If that’s the precedent, then we’ll let Californians sue those who put ghost guns and assault weapons on our streets. If TX can ban abortion and endanger lives, CA can ban deadly weapons of war and save lives.”
Bill would allow private lawsuits:
Newsom said in a statement that he has instructed his staff to work with the attorney general and the state legislature to craft a bill that would allow citizens to sue anyone who “manufactures, distributes, or sells an assault weapon or ghost gun kit or parts” in the state.
Newsom said the bill should include at least $10,000 in damages for each violation plus costs and lawyer fees.
“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.
He added that “if states can now shield their laws from review by the federal courts that compare assault weapons to Swiss Army knives, then California will use that authority to protect people’s lives, where Texas used it to put women in harm’s way.”
Would it work?
Khiara Bridges, a professor at the UC Berkeley School of Law, told the Los Angeles Times that allowing states to write laws intended to avoid federal judicial review was a dangerous legal precedent. She predicted that Newsom’s proposal would fail to stand up to court scrutiny but allow the court to “correct its error” in allowing the Texas law to continue.
“We have six justices, and it’s looking more like five these days, who like gun rights and don’t like abortion rights,” she said. “They’re willing to disregard some precedent while venerating other precedent. I have no doubt whatsoever that the Supreme Court will find some bizarre, disingenuous argument to distinguish gun rights from abortion rights.”