SB 1327 will allow Californians to sue those making, selling, transporting, or distributing illegal assault weapons and ghost guns
By Dolores Quintana
Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 1327 into law, a bill that was authored by Senator Bob Hertzberg (D-San Fernando Valley) on Friday, July 22 at Santa Monica College. The law will allow Californians to sue those making, selling, transporting, or distributing illegal assault weapons and ghost guns – guns made at home to avoid tracing – for damages of at least $10,000 per weapon involved. The same damages are also available against gun dealers who illegally sell firearms to those under 21 years of age. This law is modeled on the state of Texas’ SB 8, the appalling law that allows anyone to sue doctors or other medical personnel involved in abortion procedures to collect a $10,000 bounty.
Since the Supreme Court refused to block SB 8 when it was challenged, Governor Newsom proposed that the California legislature should pass a similar bill that would do the same for Californians except with illegal assault weapons and ghost guns. The idea seems to be that turnabout is fair play.
Governor Newsom said, “Our message to the criminals spreading illegal weapons in California is simple: 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.”
The site of the signing of the bill was more than appropriate since Santa Monica College was the site of yet another mass shooting that took place in 2013 and took the lives of six people including the gunman. The gunman used a AR 15 ghost gun to commit the crime and assembled the gun out of components that were legally purchased. This type of skirting of the law would be subject to the lawsuits that SB 1327 would now allow.
Senator Hertzberg said, “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.”
California resident and founder of Moms Demand Action, a leading anti-gun violence group, Shannon Watts, who is also a resident of the state of California said, “Untraceable ghost guns purchased without background checks have fueled gun violence throughout California and the nation and for far too long. Thanks to leadership by gun sense lawmakers and relentless advocacy from our grassroots army, California continues to lead the nation in taking life-saving action to combat ghost guns.”
California is a state that leads the nation and is a model for other states in gun safety policies. There is ample proof that California’s policies save lives. The Giffords Gun Center rates California as the top state in the United States for gun safety.
Senator Anthony Portantino (D-San Fernando, San Gabriel Valleys) said, “The continued need to adopt sensible solutions to our nation’s tragic history of gun violence is dire and necessary. That includes SB 1327 – which I am proud to jointly author with Senator Hertzberg. I am grateful to Governor Newsom for his partnership on this important bill that will keep our communities safe and improve public safety for all Californians. If Texas can outrageously use this type of law to attack a woman’s reproductive freedom, we can do the same thing in California to hold gun dealers accountable for their actions.”
The state of California has seen a 37% decrease in gun deaths in comparison to the national average since enacting its gun safety laws while other states like Texas and Florida, with much more lax laws, have seen double-digit increases in gun deaths.
Mia Tretta, a survivor of gun violence and volunteer with Students Demand Action, said, “Today is a momentous day for California,” said, “SB 1327 will make it easier for victims of ghost gun violence, like me, to help enforce our gun laws. It will save lives by attacking the illegal ghost gun industry.”
While California’s timely actions to increase gun safety have already cut the state’s gun death rate in half, Governor Newsom pushed forward and announced gun violence prevention grants in the amount of $156 million from the California Violence Intervention and Prevention Grant Program (CalVIP). The funding will go to 79 cities and nonprofit organizations that working to reduce gun violence in their area by adopting new programs that will curb gun-based violence in the future.
The University of California at Davis’ Violence Prevention Resource Program found that California’s Red Flag Law prevented 58 threatened mass shootings in the state.
Governor Newsom warned criminals and gun sellers attempting to sell illegal guns in California, “You have no safe harbor here in the Golden State.”