Home>Articles>Bill To Make It Easier To Sue Gun Makers and Dealers Introduced in Assembly

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

Bill To Make It Easier To Sue Gun Makers and Dealers Introduced in Assembly

‘This has to be airtight to succeed and it is far from airtight’

By Evan Symon, January 5, 2022 2:08 pm

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. The specific language of the bill reads as “This bill would specify that a gun industry member has created or maintained a public nuisance, as defined, if their failure to follow federal, state, or local law caused injury or death or if the gun industry member engaged in unfair business practices.”

Ting, Ward, and Gipson said that the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, a law that protects gun makers and dealers from liability when weapons are used to kill or injure someone, fails to protects them when they break state law. Armed with a loophole, the three Assemblymen wrote the bill for several different reasons.

One major reason is to 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.

The Assemblymen also pushed for greater public safety with the bill, with the hope that greater legal and financial pressure will have gun makers and dealers follow California firearms laws more closely and lead to a reduction in crime.

“We must make our communities safer. Almost every industry in the United States can be held liable for what their products do, but the gun industry is not held to the same standard,” said Assemblyman Ting on Tuesday. “Financial repercussions may finally push them to be more responsible by improving their practices and adhering to California’s strict gun laws.”

Mike A. Gipson
Assemblyman Mike A. Gipson. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

The bill is also fighting against ramped up legal pressure by gun rights organizations against California laws. To the embarrassment of many lawmakers, California gun laws were severely challenged by the courts last year, with a federal judge even overturning the state’s 32-year-old ban on assault weapons in June, with it later being halted due to a stay from an Appeals judge while they decide on it.

“A lot of California legislators and higher lawmakers are frustrated as legal challenges against their gun laws keep coming up almost endlessly,” Los Angeles injury lawyer Marco Ruiz told the Globe on Wednesday. “One is finally decided by the courts and three others seem to spring up. And worse yet, they are starting to win some now, forcing the state to appeal. They’re hoping with AB 1594 and others similar to Newsom’s proposal that a new precedent will come up and that they’ll be beleaguered by so many lawsuits that  they’ll play ball, or at the very least put the burden more on guns rights organizations. The state wants to win the war over firearms, and passing this, and it coming through the courts unscathed, would be a big part of it.”

Finally, the bill is personal to Assemblyman Gibson, whose son and future daughter-in-law were injured in a Los Angeles shooting in 2020. Gipson even said of the bill on Tuesday that “This is absolutely personal to me. I will not rest until we put an end to senseless gun violence. Part of the solution is focused on how particular guns are manufactured and distributed in California.”

Support, opposition against AB 1594

The bill received much political support on Tuesday and Wednesday with both Attorney General Rob Bonta and the Brady Campaign getting behind the bill.

Gunmakers, dealers, and guns rights organizations quickly announced opposition to AB 1594, arguing that the vast majority of gun owners and businesses who follow the law would be unduly punished as a result of the bill being passed. Many have already promised lawsuits if the law is passed, with some hoping to petition members of Congress to amend the Lawful Commerce law to remove the state law loophole, thus invalidating any attempt to get past it like AB 1594.

“Law-abiding gun owners and businesses are not the cause of criminal misuse of firearms,” said the California Rifle and Pistol Association last year to Governor Newsom’s plan. “Yet Newsom and other anti-gun politicians seem to believe the threat of frivolous lawsuits will somehow address their own failures.”

In a new statement on Tuesday, a representative for the group added “As a matter of policy, to try and shift the blame for the criminal misuse of a lawful product that is used far more often to save lives and protect lives than to take them is a terrible idea.”

Those in law also said that passing the law could lead to a legal minefield of issues.

“These Assembly members have no idea just what they are doing,” attorney Ruiz added. “Good lawyers could easily argue against this law in court. Should someone be able to sue a restaurant for giving someone a heart attack? Should someone sue a knife maker for the same reasons as AB 1594? The list can go on. It’s not even funny how bogged down this law will be for years under the legal system. Every side will fight hard. There will be stays. Appeals. Arguments over every bit of language. This has to be airtight to succeed and it is far from airtight.”

“We’re in for a bumpy ride on this one, and we haven’t even gotten to committee votes yet. We haven’t gotten final legal word on the New York law that could really change the course of this one. This is far from a done deal.”

AB 1594 is expected to be heard in committees in the coming months.

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9 thoughts on “Bill To Make It Easier To Sue Gun Makers and Dealers Introduced in Assembly

  1. Unless the manufacturer actually takes one of their guns and goes out and shoots someone there is no constitutional basis for such a thing. If this were to succeed then hammer manufactures and car builders should be liable for all the murders and deaths caused by their CUSTOMERS.

    Cam we sue the Demonrats for the millions of people they have murdered with abortion and the covid death shot?

  2. The deep state Democrat cabal in the legislature are really going after law abiding gun manufacturers and gun owners again? Meanwhile California citizens are under seige from criminals who don’t follow gun laws?

  3. GOP should then put a bill to be able to sue any manufacturer for anything.

    I would like to sue Toyota or Tesla for any accident a driver caused, or an alcohol company because of the drivers actions

    See the slippery slope, Democrats?

  4. Has there been a case brought by the state of New York against any gun manufacturer under their law? How did it work out? Am I able to sue a DA that allows a repeat offender back out on the street to cause harm or death to me or a family member? Oh boy, would that be great!

    1. That is not a good example. If a DA lets a criminal off a charge for a crime and back on the street, and while out that person hurts someone else the blame should be on the DA. They allowed it to happen, and did not comply with the laws (they refused to prosecute someone which the law says they are supposed to do). Gun manufacturers sell perfectly legal products and have no control of how they are used after they are sold. If this were the case – a manufacturer is liable for any use of their product after it is sold – it would be the end to commerce. Like others have said, cars, alcohol, fatty foods, baseball bats, knives, you name it.

  5. Idiots. No one should be able to sue a manufacturer when a product works exactly as designed to work.
    How bout we just prosecute the criminals illegally using guns? Are you listening District Attorneys??

  6. The Tyrants proposing this law know exactly what they are doing. They are not ignorant, misguided, or stupid. They are EVIL! They can read and know exactly what the Second Amendment says. They don’t care because it gets in the way of their psychotic agenda.
    They mean to impose draconian rule and enslave anyone they can’t kill outright with the “vaccines”. In order to minimize risk to themselves, and the enforcement and propaganda arms of these “elites”, their priority is to disarm all who might resist.
    Appealing to the better nature of a black robed Tyrant to check the genocidal nature of another Tyrant is lunacy at this point!
    You have to be willing and capable of stopping these modern day Hitlers by any means necessary or you and your entire family WILL be enslaved or dead!
    What a time to be alive. Get some motherfuc***s!

  7. Actually, the citizens just need a way to sue legislators for any harm caused by the laws they write. This applies to lockdowns, vaccine mandates, gun right restrictions, etc.

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