Gov. Gavin Newsom signed SB 1327 on Friday, allowing Californians to sue entities responsible for the development or distribution of illegal assault weapons and homemade guns without serial numbers, or “ghost guns.”
The bill’s approach to establishing liability allows individuals to file suits for a $10,000 fine against anyone who manufactures, distributes or sells ghost guns, according to a press release from Newsom’s office. The law also creates civil liability for people who sell or purchase firearm precursor parts — parts that can be used to build firearms — and allows the filing of suits against dealers who sell to minors.
“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,” said bill author state Sen. Robert Hertzberger, D-San Fernando Valley, in a press release.
SB 1327 was written in response to Texas legislation that took effect Sept. 1, 2021, which banned abortions at six weeks and established avenues for private citizens to sue anyone who involved in administration of abortion services.
According to the press release, Hertzberger’s bill was deliberately modeled after the Texas legislation, which many believe was intentional to ensure court battles similar to those intended to ban abortions.
“If Texas is going to use this law to impact women’s reproductive health, we’re going to use it to save people’s lives,” Hertzberg said in a televised interview.
Berkeley Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky wrote an op-ed for the LA Times that laid out whether the components of SB 1327 could be argued as constitutional. He believes that the sections on ghost guns and precursor parts could be upheld because similar restrictions have been implemented and remained intact throughout U.S. history.
Fines for gun distributors who sell to those under 21, Chemerinsky noted, could also be deemed constitutional since these age regulations already exist.
“(Gun bills) work,” Hertzberg said in a televised interview. “Our gun violence in California are down by 50% compared to the states. We’re the lowest in the country,” Hertzberg said.