Home>Articles>Assembly Judiciary Committee Passes Bill To Allow Firearm Industry to be Sued by Governments and Victims

Assemblyman Philip Y. Ting. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Assembly Judiciary Committee Passes Bill To Allow Firearm Industry to be Sued by Governments and Victims

Laws should instead focus on the operator of the gun instead of those in the firearm industry

By Evan Symon, April 21, 2022 2:43 am

A bill to make it easier for local governments and gun violence victims to sue gun makers was introduced in the Assembly on Tuesday.

Assembly Bill 1594, authored by Assemblymen Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), Chris Ward (D-San Diego) and Mike Gipson (D-Carson), closely follows a New York law in allowing victims of gun violence and governments to sue gun manufacturers or dealers for liability when firearms are used in incidents of shooting deaths or injuries. Specifically, AB 1594, also known as the Firearm Industry Responsibility Act, would require those in the firearm industry to enforce “reasonable controls” and take “reasonable precautions” to ensure that they are not sold or distributed to a downstream retailer or distributor who fails to establish or implement “reasonable controls”.

Those in the firearm industry would also, under the proposed law, be prohibited from manufacturing, marketing, importing, offering for wholesale, or offering for retail sale a firearm-related product that is likely to create a substantial and unreasonable risk of harm to public health and safety.

Most critically however, starting in July 2023, the bill would authorize those hurt by firearms, the Attorney General, and City and County Attorney Generals to sue those in the firearm industry if they violate any new laws listed in AB 1594 or break laws pertaining to unfair competition, false advertising, or unfair deceptive acts or practices. Under the bill, courts would also be authorized to determine if the firearm industry has engaged in the prohibited conduct to award various relief, including injunctive relief, damages, and attorney’s fees and costs.

The bill would follow Governor Gavin Newsom’s push to model a law on the recent Texas abortion law to allow private citizens to sue gun manufacturers. Despite Newsom’s idea clearly breaking federal law, AB 1594 would work within the loophole to avoid any federal problems. In turn, AB 1594 would bypass the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which directly prohibits civil liability against gun manufacturers and others in the firearm industry.

While the bill had had some traction since being introduced in January, interest in AB 1594 and other gun control bills picked up after the Sacramento shooting earlier this month. As a result, AB 1594 was quickly amended and re-referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee in time for the Committee meeting on Tuesday.

AB 1594 boosted in prominence by recent Sacramento shooting

With momentum on their side, Assemblyman Ting and other bill supporters emphasized violence caused by the weapons and giving individuals the power to hold the firearm industry accountable.

“We think it provides a really good opportunity to put the power back in the hands of individuals who are individual victims of gun violence, and really, what we hope is by holding this industry accountable, that they will be much more thoughtful about how they sell their weapons,” said Assemblyman Ting on Tuesday. “I think it’s unfair that the toy industry has a lot more liability than the gun industry.”

Opponents of the bill quickly countered back during the Committee meeting that, despite amendments made to counter the broadness of the original January bill draft, AB 1594 was still too broad and that laws should instead focus on the operator of the gun instead of those in the firearm industry.

“Firearms are inherently safe. They are an adamant tool. It is the operator that can sometimes be unsafe or negligent with malicious criminal intent. We should instead focus our time on those who chose to use firearms in the commission of a violent crime,” said Roy Griffith of the California Rifle and Pistol Association. “This is another misguided bill that seeks to squash and discriminate against the rights of those who engage in lawful commerce to restrict law-abiding citizens’ access to firearms instead of holding accountable those who misuse firearms.”

Despite the opposition, the bill passed 7-2, with only Assemblymen Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin) and Jordan Cunningham (R-Paso Robles) voting against it.

“Those who are for this bill really need to be careful about how they proceed with this one,” noted Los Angeles injury lawyer Marco Ruiz to the Globe on Wednesday. “This is a law that will be easily challenged in court. In fact, that may be what they are trying to do here. But if this is passed, there will be conflicting federal and state law. And it’s not like cannabis or other things that are in more or less a gray area. So, if passed or failed, it will not be the last time you will have heard of it.”

AB 1594 is to be heard next in the Assembly Appropriations Committee in the coming weeks.

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16 thoughts on “Assembly Judiciary Committee Passes Bill To Allow Firearm Industry to be Sued by Governments and Victims

  1. The person who pulled the trigger should be held responsible, end stop.
    Another bill if fully passed will end up being found unconstitutional.

    1. Agree 100%, but you should use FULL STOP, so Gavin Newsom can understand your intent…

      We are governed by TODDLERS, with the mental development of two-year olds…

  2. Can citizens sue the CA legislature for asinine, time-wasting, woke, unconstitutional acts and bills they author or pass????

  3. Ever wonder why Gruesome and his Gang would link abortion and gun control? Sure, we know Gruesome and Co. love the right-wing knuckle-dragger insults, love to manufacture hatred of Repubs, love to trigger the Trump and Texas Derangement Syndromes, in cynical attempts to rouse their base in order to keep their power. But really, why link gun control to ABORTION?

    Maybe it’s because crime is such a huge issue now, for most people in the state, that these Dem politicians know EVEN THE LEFT AND LIBERALS are increasingly purchasing guns for protection. By using the tried-and-true emotionally-charged abortion buzzword maybe they think they can drag new gun-owning Dems back into the gun-control fold somehow.

    By the way, it looks like we have two very similar bills going at the same time, SB 1327 and AB 1594, unless I missed something, which if I did, please tell me. Are they trying to distract the public with one bill while the other bill slides through? SB 1327 (Sen Hertzberg and same co-authors as AB 1594) appears to do essentially the same thing as AB 1594.

    Hardly need to add for readers here that this gun control stuff always has the opposite effect of whatever it asserts. Anyone who has looked at the issue knows this. These efforts are ONLY symbolic and an attempt to punish the gun industry and further hamper law-abiding citizens’ efforts to defend themselves, especially in an era of skyrocketing violent crime.
    I’ll be writing to my state reps to oppose BOTH bills: SB 1327 and AB 1594.

  4. There’s a Tik Tok video of women and children milling around, talking on the sidewalk, when a guy with a gun walks up and grabs a child. Without hesitation, another Momma Bear reached in her purse, pulled her gun and shot him.
    States have shown over and over, they either don’t have the resources or intent to protect citizens, 26 States now have Constitutional carry, because they care. 26 States have joined forces to address immigration at the border, while rapists, murderers, cartels, are being imported. California again is on the wrong side of history.
    Note to Abe: You can sue, or file against their ‘Surety Bonds’ (bondsforthewin.com) for failing to uphold their Oath of Office, the US and California Constitutions.

  5. We should be able to sue the individual legislator who authors bad legislation that results in harm and add each other legislator who voted for bad legislation. Part of the settlement should be that they be recalled and banned from elected public office indefinitely. Maybe they would represent those who elected them and not the special interests who pays for their betrayal.

  6. I would suggest to everyone who’s commented here, that in addition to writing or calling your reps, that you use the California Legislature Position Letter Portal (https://calegislation.lc.ca.gov/Advocates/). The messages you leave here go directly to the committee members considering a bill. It appears to be more effective than just contacting your rep. This is how we’ve managed to get several of the more onerous COVID-19 “vaccine” bills pulled before they ever reached a vote.

  7. CA continues to dig it’s own grave, deeper and deeper. It’s truly amazing to watch the rapid spread of the stupid infection thru out the state. They will be sued into the ground at an ever increasing rate yet their politicians continue passing ridiculous, unenforceable laws with these retarded grins on their faces acting like they’re somehow helping to curb something that doesn’t exist while punishing those that have done nothing wrong. Are these idiots going to pass a law allowing anyone to sue car manufactures when idiots that shouldn’t be driving cause accidents and kill people or hammer manufactures when you hit your thumb instead of the nail because you’re too cheap or stupid to hire a carpenter. Confirmation that Politicians are in politics because they’re too stupid to have real jobs!

  8. California has too much money to throw around at frivolous obviously unconstitutional laws. Next it will be ice cream causing obesity.

  9. Who makes the big campaign donations to the states democrats? The Trial Lawyers! Who’s been deeply intrenched In California’s legislative system? It’s not a bunch of people that could pass a security clearance.

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