One day after 19 children and two adults were killed by a gunman in a fourth grade classroom in Texas, five Los Angeles City Councilmen Wednesday called for the state to pass legislation that would allow private citizens to sue those who sell or manufacture guns.
Senate Bill 1327, which is sponsored by Gov. Gavin Newsom, was introduced by Sen. Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, and Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge. It passed the Senate on Tuesday and now heads to the Assembly.
The bill would allow citizens to file lawsuits against anyone who manufactures, distributes, transports, keeps for sale, offers for sale, gives or lends assault weapons, .50 BMG Rifles, firearm precursor parts or unserialized firearms.
It was introduced after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed similar legislation that enables private citizens to seek civil action against people who have abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.
The resolution in support of the legislation was introduced Wednesday by Councilmen Bob Blumenfield, Paul Krekorian, Mitch O’Farrell, Paul Koretz and Marqueece Harris-Dawson.
“Restricting assault weapons reduce deaths,” the resolution states. “Estimates find mass-shooting fatalities were 70% less likely during the period when the federal ban was in effect.” The federal assault weapons ban was passed in 1994 and expired in 2004.
Council President Nury Martinez seconded the resolution. During Wednesday’s council meeting, she said, “I thought about having a moment of silence, I thought about sending thoughts and prayers, but honestly, colleagues, these families don’t need any more thoughts and prayers. Their babies are not coming home. They want their babies back.”
“I hope this is a call to action to finally have the political courage to do the right thing in this country and get the Senate to act,” she added.
The resolution states that the state legislation is supported by the Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Students Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
ACLU California Action opposes the legislation for being modeled after the Texas law’s “end-run around the system” which it says is designed to “prevent court protection of a constitutional right.”
“We believe it is a serious misstep to further entrench that flawed logic. In doing so, California will be promoting a legal end-run that can be used by any state to deny people an effective means to have their constitutional rights protected by the courts,” ACLU of Northern California’s legal director Shilpi Agarwal said.
Speaking in April in support of the legislation, Newsom said: “Today, the Legislature took an important step towards holding the gun industry accountable for mass shootings in our communities involving illegal firearms and protecting residents, utilizing the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that allowed private citizens in Texas the ability to sue abortion providers. So long as the Supreme Court has set this precedent, California will use it to save lives.”