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Governor Gavin Newsom. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Proposal to Allow Private Citizens Sue Gun Manufacturers Violates Federal Law

Federal law keeps gun control groups from placing blame on the industry for the criminal misuse of legal firearms that are lawfully sold

By Katy Grimes, December 13, 2021 2:39 am

In June 2021, the Globe reported that District Judge Roger T. Benitez threw out California’s 32-year ban on assault weapons, while also clarifying the deliberate and incorrect use of the label “assault weapon.”

In the case of the AR-15, “AR” stands for “Armalite Rifle,” named after the company that developed it, and not “assault rifle” as so many in the media incorrectly claim.

Benitez’s opening statement in his opinion says it all:

“Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment. Good for both home and battle, the AR-15 is the kind of versatile gun that lies at the intersection of the kinds of firearms protected under District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008) and United States v Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939). Yet, the State of California makes it a crime to have an AR15 type rifle. Therefore, this Court declares the California statutes to be unconstitutional.”

Almost immediately Attorney General Rob Bonta and Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that California would appeal the the judge’s decision in Miller v. Bonta. 

This past Saturday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced he would “empower private citizens to enforce a ban on the manufacture and sale of assault weapons in the state, citing the same authority claimed by conservative lawmakers in Texas to outlaw most abortions once a heartbeat is detected,” the Associated Press reported.

The Wall Street Journal expanded on this:

“He wants to create a path for private citizens to sue gun manufacturers, sellers and distributors in the state, modeling his proposal after the legal framework used in the Texas law that bans abortions past six weeks.

On the heels of Friday’s Supreme Court ruling allowing the Texas law to remain in effect for now, Mr. Newsom said he would work with the Democratic-dominated Legislature and Attorney General Rob Bonta, also a Democrat, to draft a proposal.”

“The bill would allow private citizens to sue anyone who manufactures, sells or distributes assault weapons or ghost gun kits or parts in the state for at least $10,000 per violation.”

But there is a problem with Newsom’s knee-jerk reaction – The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, passed in Congress in 2005, was passed to protect manufacturers from lawsuits going after the gun rather than the person who pulled the trigger.

Then again, Gavin Newsom is known for flaunting laws he does not like, and approving without proper authority, those he deems worthy.

As Larry Keene, President of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, explains:

“The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) passed with wide bipartisan support and was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2005. The purpose was to stave off lawsuits attempting to hold firearm companies liable for the criminal and unlawful misuse of firearms by criminals and other remote third-parties over whom members of the industry have no control. The lawsuits were meant to put those companies out of business unless they capitulated and agreed to settlements imposing all manner of gun control measures rejected by Congress and state legislatures. The PLCAA keeps activist trial lawyers and gun control groups from placing the blame on the industry for the criminal misuse of legal firearms that are lawfully sold.”

“Newsom said he has directed his staff to work with the state’s Legislature and its Democratic attorney general to pass a law that would let private citizens sue to enforce California’s ban on assault weapons,” the AP reported. “Newsom said people who sue could win up to $10,000 per violation plus other costs and attorneys fees against ‘anyone who manufactures, distributes, or sells an assault weapon’ in California.”

Keene was writing in June about a proposed New York bill to remove Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) protections from gun manufacturers in New York.

“Sen. Myrie’s proposal would be akin to a state allowing a lawsuit to be brought against Ford for the actions of a drunk driver that killed someone after getting behind the wheel,” Keene said. “Firearm manufacturers can, and have, been held accountable under the law of product liability for defective products. The law also doesn’t allow protections against knowing violations of the law and other willful misconduct.”

The disinformation campaigns by gun control politicians play fast and loose with the facts.

As one Twitter reply noted, “He (Newsom) knows it’s going to get smacked down. Like so much of what Newsom does, it’s to strike a pose in front of his gullible fans and enjoy the applause.”

Gov. Newsom’s pandering aside, he will undoubtedly have a serious legal fight on his hands.

In his June decision, Judge Benitez even included the definition of Assault Weapons Under § 30515(a), and almost mocked the state’s definition:

A rifle is labeled an “assault weapon” if it is one of three principal types. The first type is a semiautomatic centerfire rifle that does not have a fixed magazine but has one of the following prohibiting features: a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the rifle, a thumbhole stock, a folding or telescoping stock, a grenade or flare launcher, a flash suppressor, or a forward pistol grip. The second type is a semiautomatic centerfire rifle that has a fixed magazine able to hold more than 10 rounds. The third type is a semiautomatic centerfire rifle that has an overall length of less than 30 inches. Cal. Penal Code § 30515(a)(1)-(3).16

As an aside, the “assault weapon” epithet is a bit of a misnomer. These prohibited guns, like all guns, are dangerous weapons. However, these prohibited guns, like all guns, can be used for ill or for good. They could just as well be called “home defense rifles” or “anti-crime guns.”

Judge Benitez addressed the state’s wobbly criminal penalties surrounding “assault weapons:”

“…little is found in the Attorney General’s court filings reflecting a goal of preventing violence perpetrated against law-abiding citizens in their homes. Instead, the State’s litigation stance is more like the view recently expressed by a police chief in Oakland, California: we do not want victims to arm themselves; we want them to be good witnesses. Of course, a dead victim is a lousy witness.”

Summing up the state’s stance, Judge Benitez said, “The State prefers a policy of residents not arming themselves with assault weapons, and for those who do, arresting residents.”

Remember, U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez was the judge who blocked California’s law requiring background checks for people buying ammunition in 2020, and ruled against a California law which prohibited buying or selling magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

“The experiment has been tried. The casualties have been counted. California’s new ammunition background check law misfires and the Second Amendment rights of California citizens have been gravely injured,” Benitez wrote in his order.

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26 thoughts on “Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Proposal to Allow Private Citizens Sue Gun Manufacturers Violates Federal Law

  1. “It’s all the fault of guns. It has nothing to do with letting thousand of criminals out of jail early, penny (or no) bail, defunding law enforcement, refusing to prosecute those arrested or the thousands of tons of meth handed out in daylight every day. Repeat after me: It’s the guns, it’s the guns, it’s the guns. And thank you for keeping me in office so I can continue to tell you how to think.”

    1. Spot on. the only reason he’s still in office is because the corrupt unions that are bought and paid for made the rank and file vote for him along with their families. Like all the peace officers union and the SEC and Teamsters. He has been those and all unions CASH Cow.

      1. But you guys had a chance to recall him 3 months ago. The reason he’s still in office were those deceiving ads you saw on TV touting his “achievements” and how he’s gonna start being tough on crime. Sadly, a lot of you believed it.

  2. There’s another, more basic problem with Newsom’s silly, copycat law: the right to bear arms is enshrined in the Constitution; any “right” to abortion is not. Even a pro-choicer like me can see that.

  3. “….he will have a serious legal fight on his hands.”

    We as residents and taxpayers are left with the burden to pay for his defense of an unconstitutional law he creates for attention! Unbelievable, during a true crime escalation, rising gas prices, homeless crisis and a host of issues to long to list, HE ALONE decides to waste valuable resources on his vanity laws!!

    What a JERK! Yes, Newsom , YOU are the biggest JERK to sit in the Governor’s office.

    Just in case Newsom attempts to read this: KREJ!

      1. And lose in court when his stupid legislation is overturned. He may win at the ballot box but he continues to lose in court. His court record is dismal.

      2. Gavin Newsom will win only with help from Democrat voter fraud such as bogus mail-in ballots, ballot harvesting, and rigged voting machines.

  4. IF one goes into a war using AR-15s they will lose handily, as its a consumer weapon at best, not military grade.

    Its a false claim by Democrats saying weapon of war, because those using it in war would be wiped out quickly because military grade weapons are much faster at shooting and many have larger bullets to impact more.

    AR-15 are excellent choices for women because the recoil is much less dramatic and is more accurate than a pistol.

  5. 28.3% households own a gun in California (1 in 4), over 4mil guns, and those are just the legal ones… Each time ‘Numnutz’ enacts Unconstitutional legislation, gun sales in CA skyrocket and voters wise up, over 1.17 mil new purchases/registration in CA in 2020. Then he has the audacity to fight you in court with your money!!! He and his Liberal Dems (Pelosi, Feinstein, Fang Fang Swallow-it-well, Waters, etc) bankrupting California for WEF masters: ‘you will own nothing and be happy’. Maybe winning (stealing) the Recall was a good thing? Now their own constituents see ‘The Stench’ ….ie. child indoctrination/sex grooming in schools; forced vax , fake testing (not science); EDD dysfunction (who got the $$$, who will pay?); abortion tourism (disgusting); CalPers investing in Chyna Belt & Road?; homelessness; crime policies that put ordinary innocent folks in harms way… Freedom is your birthright, the Constitution protects, limits govt power. Newsom is protected by gun-wielding officers that Californian’s pay for, why should any person in California not be afforded the same protections without the benefit of additional bodyguards. You will have to protect your family, community, and yourself in Newsom’s California.
    Oh, and by the way, did Pelosi buy a $25mil mansion (insider trading?) in Palm Beach County FLORIDA

    1. Wow Marilyn,
      Great post, I think you just played the marxist’s greatest hits!
      Thanks for taking the time to write it.
      We have a state to save!????

  6. So is this greasy-haired numbnut going to sue the auto makers for drunk driving accidents, too???

    That’s how ILLOGICAL and EMOTION-DRIVEN this piece of work is….

    And the only way this power-mad alumni of Klaus Schwab’s “Young Leaders” New World order group won re-election and has a snowball’s chance of your “landslide” W, is thanks to the security exploits in Demoninion Voting Systems that the Dems in charge of elections utilize….

    1. According to Gavin, we should be able to sue Mexico for illegals causing citizens harm, even elected officials and judges for ignoring federal laws in aiding, harboring, and abetting laws. slippery slope can get rather large

  7. Private citizens should sue government officials like Gavin Newsom and the rest of the Democrat cabal who blatantly violate federal laws such as creating sanctuary cities/states for illegal aliens?

  8. Wow, the right always state facts to support their claims and help enlighten the ignorant masses and the left responds with ‘I’m glad he survived the recall’, ‘I will continue to support him’ and ‘I like him’. Pretty convincing for a 3rd grader.

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