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Newsom signs gun control bill modeled after Texas abortion law

California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday signed a gun control bill into law that will allow private citizens to sue anyone who manufactures, sells, transports or distributes illegal “assault weapons and ghost guns.”

The measure was crafted in response to last year’s Texas abortion ban that prohibits the procedure once a heartbeat was detected and allows private citizens to sue physicians, drivers or anyone else who aids a woman in receiving an abortion for $10,000.

The California gun law would grant $10,000 in damages per weapon to private citizens who sue. Citizens could also be awarded the same amount if they file a lawsuit against someone who illegally sells firearms to people under 21 years of age.

The bill was introduced after Newsom directed state lawmakers in December to draft a gun control measure modeled after Texas’ abortion law, S.B. 8. The governor called for the legislation just days after the Supreme Court ruled that the Texas heartbeat law could remain in effect following a legal challenge.

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“Our message to the criminals spreading illegal weapons in California is simple: you have no safe harbor here in the Golden State,” Newsom said in a press release Friday. “While the Supreme Court rolls back reasonable gun safety measures, California continues adding new ways to protect the lives of our kids. California will use every tool at its disposal to save lives, especially in the face of an increasingly extreme Supreme Court.”

The bill was signed at Santa Monica College, the location of a 2013 shooting in which the gunman killed five people using an unserialized AR-15 rifle that had been built using legally purchased parts. The weapon would have been restricted under the new law. 

The law is expected to cause lawsuits.

“It is obvious that this is a retaliation against lawful gun owners and the court because of the Texas decision. There’s a full expectation that the firearms industry will have a very strong reaction towards the signing of this bill,” Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “They are really, really trying to be nothing but vindictive against lawful people in the firearms industry. All of our attorneys are in the process of evaluating what we are going to do on this thing.”

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The bill was signed at Santa Monica College, the location of a 2013 shooting in which the gunman killed five people using an unserialized AR-15 rifle that had been built using legally purchased parts.

Newsom had signed a number of other gun control bills on Thursday aimed at tackling gun violence. The measures include a 10-year prohibition for firearm possession on those convicted of child or elder abuse, a reduction in the number of guns someone is allowed to manufacture without a license and a requirement that the state justice department inspect gun dealers at least every three years beginning in 2024. 

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Newsom had signed a number of other gun control measures on Thursday that target gun violence. 

“While some politicians put up roadblocks or say nothing can be done, here in California we are once again proving we can take on the gun lobby and protect our communities,” state Attorney General Rob Bonta said in Friday’s release. 

“With these new laws, California is protecting life, safety, and freedom.” he continued. “We have the strongest gun safety laws in the nation, and one of the lowest firearm mortality rates. This is not a coincidence. More guns do not make us safer — laws like these do. Period.”

Newsom has also taken out an ad in multiple Texas newspapers criticizing GOP Gov. Greg Abbott for his stance on guns and abortion, the latest ad launched in a Republican state, which suggests he could be eyeing a run for the White House. He recently aired an ad in Florida urging its residents to leave for California, claiming freedom is “under attack” in the Sunshine State.

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