‘Never tried before’: California lawmakers use Texas tactics in bid to tackle ‘ghost guns’

Stung by a deadly mass shooting on Sunday mere blocks from the state capitol, California lawmakers on Tuesday advanced an innovative yet untested approach to gun control that would empower private citizens to sue those who traffic in illegal weapons.

California already has some of the country’s strictest firearms rules, but it has struggled to curb the spread of stolen or homemade and increasingly prevalent “ghost” guns.

Its latest attempt, proposed by the Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom, would allow people to file civil lawsuits against anyone who distributes illegal assault weapons, parts that can be used to build weapons, guns without serial numbers, or .50-caliber rifles. They would be awarded at least $10,000 in civil damages for each weapon, plus attorneys’ fees.

“California leads the nation in enacting robust gun laws and we’re still seeing this unprecedented level of gun violence,” Robert Hertzberg, the Democratic state senator who is carrying the bill, told the state senate’s judiciary committee.

Hertzberg’s bill is patterned after a similar Texas law allowing citizens to go after those who provide or assist in providing abortions. But the proposal has been met with skepticism from some Democrats and from California’s leading gun policy advocacy group.

“This sort of comes under the ‘monkey see, monkey do’ rubric,” said the state senator Tom Umberg, a fellow Democrat and the judiciary panel’s chairman. “Hopefully we won’t be doing the ‘monkey do’ thing all the way ’til the end.”

Sunday’s mass shooting in a downtown Sacramento nightclub area renewed calls for tougher firearms laws from Joe Biden. The president asked Congress to take many of the steps nationwide that California already has in place, imposing background checks, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and outlawing ghost guns.

The first weapon recovered after gunmen killed six people and wounded 12 early on Sunday had been stolen and converted to being capable of automatic gunfire, investigators said 화요일에.

But Hertzberg’s bill would not apply to stolen weapons unless they are otherwise made illegal, for instance by filing off the serial number. It would not bar anyone from possessing or using the weapons, though they are illegal under other laws.

Much like the Texas law, legislative analysts said the proposal is written so broadly that it might ensnare, 예를 들어, “a taxi driver that takes a person to a gun shop”.

And even if it passes, the law will automatically be invalidated if the Texas abortion law is eventually ruled unconstitutional.

Michael Finley, government affairs director for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, said the bill would conflict with federal law and included firearm parts that are not by themselves illegal.

Ari Freilich, the state policy director for the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said the bill “would essentially bring more enforcement oversight to some specific criminal laws in California”.

“It’s not something that’s really been tried before,”그는 말했다.

Freilich, 너무, said the proposal had “potential challenges”. Among them were encouraging civil actions to punish crimes and establishing “a bounty” to be collected by those who have not been directly harmed.

His organization is backing other bills, including one that would make it easier for people to sue gun companies for liability in shootings that cause injuries or death. Two other bills also target firearm parts and guns without serial numbers, and those made with 3D printers.

The Democratic authors of several gun bills joined Hertzberg on the capitol steps on Tuesday, advocating for their measures as ways to reduce gun violence. Among them is a bill that would limit the type of firearms advertising and marketing that can be geared toward children.

“Collectively, our legislation can work to stop the kind of mass shootings that changed the city over the weekend,” Hertzberg said.

Hertzberg’s bill cleared the judiciary committee on Tuesday on an 8-1 vote. It must pass two more committees before it can be considered by the full state senate and then the assembly.

Newsom, 성명서에서, called the committee’s passage “an important step” and Sunday’s mass shooting “a tragic reminder of the lives that are at stake in this crisis”.

Umberg, the panel’s chairman, said he supports both the bill’s attempt to contain illegal weapons and its effort to “the highlight the absurdity of the Texas law”. But he said he ultimately hoped Hertzberg’s bill would fail because the Texas abortion law was ruled unconstitutional.

Hertzberg also criticized the Texas law, but said that if his bill proved effective, California lawmakers might want to keep it.

“If Texas can use this mechanism to take away a woman’s right to choose and endanger lives, California can use the same mechanism to do anything creative to ban deadly weapons of war and save lives,” Hertzberg said.

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