Gov. Newsom plays off Texas abortion law to push bill targeting makers of ‘assault’ weapons

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California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is calling for legislation that would be modeled after a strict abortion law in Texas that permits private citizens to file lawsuits against providers who perform abortions after a fetal heart tone is detected, generally around six weeks.

Newsome’s ideal bill would similarly allow private citizens to sue anyone who makes, distributes, or sells so-called “assault weapons” and “ghost guns,” the Washington Examiner reported Saturday.

Newsome issued his call Saturday evening in reference to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday not to block the Texas law but to allow residents and pro-abortion advocacy groups to sue the state over the statute.

“I am outraged by yesterday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing Texas’s ban on most abortion services to remain in place, and largely endorsing Texas’s scheme to insulate its law from the fundamental protections of Roe v. Wade,” Newsom said.

“But if states can now shield their laws from review by the federal courts that compare assault weapons to Swiss Army knives, then California will use that authority to protect people’s lives, where Texas used it to put women in harm’s way,” he claimed.

Newsome, in a tweet, went on to mischaracterize semi-automatic rifles resembling military models as “weapons of war,” a favorite Democrat talking point.

It’s also likely that any law he and the state’s Democratic legislative supermajority creates involving firearms will be challenged as an unconstitutional infringement on the Second Amendment.

Under the Texas statute, abortions are barred after fetal heart tones can be detected. The law also makes no exceptions for cases of incest or rape. Anyone who “aids or abets” in abortion after a heartbeat is detected can be sued civilly. Successful plaintiffs would be entitled to $10,000 and reimbursed legal fees.

All of those provisions are contained in Newsom’s proposal.

The Examiner reported that Newsom has already ordered his staff to work in conjunction with the state legislature and attorney general’s office to craft a measure that “would create a right of action allowing private citizens to seek injunctive relief, and statutory damages of at least $10,000 per violation plus costs and attorney’s fees, against anyone who manufactures, distributes, or sells an assault weapon or ghost gun kit or parts in the State of California.”

The California-based Firearms Policy Coalition, a non-profit group, filed an amicus brief that supported abortion providers who oppose the Texas law, according to the Examiner. The group claimed that the Texas “scheme” would spill over into other issues and “serve as a model for deterring and suppressing the exercise of numerous constitutional rights” including the right to keep and bear arms, uninfringed, per the Second Amendment.

That said, the organization — which won a victory in federal court in June after a judge overturned California’s long-time assault weapons ban — said in a statement on Saturday that the group will be fighting in state and federal courts against Newsom’s bill (a federal appeals court put the lower court’s assault weapons ruling on hold pending further litigation).

“If Gavin Newsom wants to play a game of constitutional chicken, we will prevail,” the nonprofit noted.

The Examiner went on to note that so-called “ghost guns” are manufactured using 3D printers with the aid of kits and they do not have serial numbers so that makes them more difficult to track. In April, President Biden announced his administration planned to crack down on ghost guns and proposed a new set of restrictions; California’s Democratic AG Rob Bonta has voiced support for those new rules.

“If the most efficient way to keep these devastating weapons off our streets is to add the threat of private lawsuits, we should do just that,” Newsom noted.


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Jon Dougherty


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