California Bill Would Make Lawsuits Against Gun Manufacturers Easier | Business


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Some California Democratic lawmakers want to make it easier for people to sue gun companies over gunfire causing injury or death, advocates of the law said on Tuesday. decision to circumvent a US law that prevents such prosecutions. and allows industry to act recklessly.

But critics are calling the bill, which was modeled after a New York law passed last year, illegal in scope. They say his real goal was to force gunmakers to disappear.

In general, when someone is injured or shot dead, it is very difficult for the victim or their family to hold the gun manufacturer or dealer responsible by suing them and making them pay damages. Federal law prevents most of these types of prosecutions, which advocacy groups say are unique to the gun industry.

But US law allows certain types of liability claims, including when gun manufacturers violate state or local laws regarding the sale and marketing of their products. Last year, New York City passed the country’s first law declaring such violations a “public nuisance,” opening gun manufacturers to legal action.

California Assembly Member Phil Ting of San Francisco on Tuesday unveiled a bill inspired by New York’s law, which is being challenged in court by gunmakers.

“Almost every industry in the United States is held accountable for what their products do. … The gun industry is the only exception, ”Ting said. “The financial repercussions could make the industry and gun dealers to be more responsible. “

The bill is co-authored by Assembly members Chris Ward of San Diego and Mike Gipson of Carson. Gipson’s son, her son’s fiancé and another man were shot dead in Los Angeles in April 2020. Gipson’s son and fiancé survived. But the other man, Gary Patrick Moody, was killed.

“It’s absolutely personal to me,” said Gipson, a former police officer.

Gun advocates were quick to denounce the bill, known as AB 1594, as a smokescreen for another attempt by Californian progressives to ban guns. Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, likened it to a lawsuit by Governor Gavin Newsom because he owns a winery and people have abused his products while driving while intoxicated.

“He cannot ban guns, but he will try to bankrupt legal gun companies,” Paredes said.

California has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, including a decades-long ban on most assault weapons. But last year, a federal judge overturned California’s ban on assault weapons, sparking a lengthy appeal process.

Angered by the move, Newsom last month called on the state legislature to pass a law allowing citizens to enforce the state’s ban on assault weapons through prosecution. The idea is similar to a Texas law that bans most abortions, but leaves it up to private citizens to uphold the law by prosecuting violators in court.

The bill announced on Tuesday would not do that. Instead, Ting said he would let people and governments sue gun manufacturers or dealers for liability for death or gunshot wounds. This is a key distinction from Texas abortion law, which is only enforceable through private prosecution.

It’s unclear what these potential lawsuits against gun manufacturers might include. The bill introduced in the state legislature is only one sentence long, declaring that gun manufacturers have created a public nuisance if their failure to comply with state and local gun laws results in harm. injury or death. The bill will likely be amended several times during the legislative process.

Tanya Schardt, senior lawyer for gun control group Brady Campaign, said prosecutions could include lawsuits against gun dealers who knowingly sell guns to people who then illegally sell them to others. who are not allowed to own them. Or it could mean suing a gun manufacturer who supplies dealers who they know are selling guns used in crimes.

The aim is to “create an environment in which the gun industry is held accountable,” Schardt said.

Chuck Michel, a civil rights attorney and president of the California Rifle and Pistol Association, said that goal would likely backfire by making it harder for law-abiding citizens to have guns to defend themselves.

“In terms of policy, to try to blame the misuse of a lawful product that is used much more often to save lives and protect lives than to take them is a terrible idea,” he said. declared.

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