California

Newsom eyes using Texas abortion law tactic to suppress gun rights. Why it’ll come up short.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Saturday he plans to use the same tactic from Texas’s abortion law to target assault rifle sales after the Supreme Court declined to block enforcement of the law.

In a statement, Newsom said he has directed his staff to collaborate with the legislature and Attorney General Rob Bonta to draft a bill that would allow private citizens to file lawsuits “against anyone who manufactures, distributes, or sells an assault weapon or ghost gun kit or parts in the State of California.”

“If states can shield their laws from review by federal courts, then CA will use that authority to help protect lives,” Newsom said in a tweet.

The announcement follows a ruling from the Supreme Court that abortion providers in Texas can proceed with lawsuits challenging S.B. 8, the nation’s most restrictive abortion law that bans the procedure after the first six weeks of pregnancy. But the court declined to block enforcement of the law while court battles continues, so the law remains in effect.

Following Newsom’s announcement, Constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley wrote that the the push will summarily dismissed, as it has been with the Texas law, as reported by Fox News.

In writing on Newsom’s request, Turley pointed out that a Texas district court found private enforcement of the Texas law to be unconstitutional, “as would the California law,” and the Supreme Court allowed “pre-enforcement challenges so the California law could be challenged to avoid any ‘chilling effect’ on gun rights.”

But Turley said that the impact of Newsom’s gun push would be muted by comparison to the abortion law due to the narrow focus on gun manufacturers, distributors, and sellers.

“The Texas law was so menacing because it exposed such a wide array of people to potential lawsuit,” he wrote. “It would not be quite as popular to go after gun owners or gun rights groups. Yet, Newsom is targeting business which are going to be less intimidated by such litigation costs in a law that would be clearly unconstitutional.” 

Staff reports from The San Joaquin Valley Sun staff.