Home>Articles>Judge Blocks Major Part of California Gun Control Bill

Gov. Gavin Newsom press conference on gun control. (Photo: screen capture Governor's press conference)

Judge Blocks Major Part of California Gun Control Bill

‘When people feel they can’t go to the courts … what’s left?’

By Evan Symon, December 17, 2022 2:30 am

United States District Court for the Southern District of California Judge Roger Benitez ruled on Friday that a major part of a California gun bill signed by Governor Gavin Newsom in July should be blocked, invalidating roughly half the bill.

The bill in question, AB 1594, is essentially a gun control version of Texas’ Senate Bill 8, also known as the heartbeat law. Under the bill, private citizens, the state attorney general, and local governments are allowed to sue for damages against gun makers and dealers for harm caused by business practices that violate state gun regulations. A major part of the bill included a provision making it legally very risky to challenge the new law in court, essentially making it so that any group or person suing against the law would have to win all their claims, or else risk paying the government’s legal fees.

Designed to protect the law from legal challenges, much like the Texas bill, this part of the bill was zeroed in on by gun-rights groups due to placing all of the burden, unless it is a total win, on them. In September, only two months after the bill was signed and just over three months before it was due to become law on January 1st, Gunfighter Tactical, the San Diego County Gun Owners PAC and the Second Amendment Foundation sued the state over that part of the bill. The groups cited that the legal fees provision violated the 1st amendment through their protected activity and was put up to block their access to the courts.

“California adopted this fee-shifting scheme as a response to — and apparently in retaliation for — a similar fee-shifting scheme that Texas enacted in connection with abortion regulations,” said the groups in the suit. “But tit-for-tat is not a rational or permissible justification for the classifications in this case.”

Judge rules against state

Despite heavy state opposition to the suit, brought upon by Governor Newsom rather than Attorney General Rob Bonta due to Bonta fighting against the same provision in the Texas law earlier in the year,  Judge Benitez ruled against California on Friday in the District Court in San Diego. Calling the fee-shifting provisions “abhorrent,” he noted that cutting them off from the courts also cut off attempts to bring back rights guaranteed in the Constitution.

“When people feel they can’t go to the courts, if that process is taken away from them, what’s left?” said Judge Benitez. “The result is either civil disobedience or violence. This is not about firearms regulations. This is about a constitutional right.”

Unless challenged on appeal, Benitez is to formalize his ruling next week, and will issue an injunction that stops the fee-shifting provision.

Gun control groups praised the decision on Friday, marking it as a major win, although a big aim is to get rid of the whole law altogether.

“We wanted to have the whole law go before it’s officially law on the 1st, but this is big,” said attorney Charlotte Childress, who has represented gun owners in lawsuits outside of California, to the Globe on Friday. “They can now at least sue them without having to pay big for it. California copied Texas’ law, and they foolishly thought adding that part would easily slip by. They were wrong, and now they are wide open to a bunch of lawsuits that can sink the law.

“But that’s counting chickens before they hatch. Right now, big victory.”

Before the ruling, Governor Newsom anticipated a loss, stating that “So long as this opportunity to take action against those who spread illegal weapons in our communities exists, we’re going to use it to save lives. We will not back down.”

An injunction is expected from Judge Benitez before Christmas.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Evan Symon
Spread the news:

 RELATED ARTICLES

17 thoughts on “Judge Blocks Major Part of California Gun Control Bill

  1. It’s great to hear that Southern District of California Judge Roger Benitez blocked the provision that any group or person suing against the gun control law would have to win all their claims, or else risk paying the government’s legal fees. The legal fees provision violated the 1st amendment, and as Judge Benitez stated, when people feel they can’t go to the courts, if that process is taken away from them, then what’s left?

  2. Many of us would like to sue the COVID vaccine manufacturers along with Democrat leaders like Gov. Newsom and President Biden who mandated the experimental mRNA shots that have injured and killed thousands of people but we are barred from doing so by laws that hold them unaccountable. How do we rectify this situation?

  3. Dang that Constitution!
    It was designed to defeat the Despot!
    The only place they are accountable is at the ballot box.
    Get behind “Fix California and “Election Integrity Project California”

    1. SB 1327 by Sen. Bob Hertzberg was actually the bill which created a private right of action for any person against any person who, within this state, (1) manufactures or causes to be manufactured, distributes, transports, or imports into the state, or causes to be distributed or transported or imported into the state, keeps for sale or offers or exposes for sale, or gives or lends any firearm lacking a serial number required by law, assault weapon, or .50 BMG rifle

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *