California lawmakers are expediting a handful of measures to crack down on firearms following the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, which left 19 children and two teachers dead.
They include a bill to allow private citizens to bring civil suits against gun sellers, distributors and manufacturers for weapons used illegally. Senate Bill 1327 was modeled after a new abortion law in Texas, which allows people to sue those who get or provide an abortion.
“I’m hopeful that a number of these bills can reach our desk with the urgency provisions attached so they can go into effect immediately,” the governor said, adding that he wants to sign the gun control bills by the end of June.
To take effect immediately, a bill must pass with a two-thirds majority in both chambers.
The bill to allow the private right of action against gun makers passed the state senate Tuesday just hours after the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. It will next be heard in the Assembly.
“This bill may not be perfect, but it offers a tool that needs to be tested now,” Sen. Anthony Portantino (D–La Cañada Flintridge) said Tuesday. “If it prevents just one instance of gun violence in our state, it’s worth the experiment.”
Newsom called for the measure after the United States Supreme Court upheld that portion of the Texas abortion law.
“If Texas can use a law to ban a woman’s right to choose and to put her health at risk, we will use that same law to save lives and improve the health and safety of the people of the State of California,” the governor said when he endorsed the bill in February
Though it has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, California is not immune to large-scale gun violence. In April, six people were killed in a shootout near the state Capitol in Sacramento. Nearly a year ago to the day, a transit worker shot and killed nine coworkers at a San Jose railyard.
Republicans around the country, including in Texas, refuse to take up gun control measures.
“More gun control is unlikely to stop mass shootings,” Assembly Republican leader James Gallagher (R–Yuba City) wrote on Twitter. “We passed gun laws and it didn’t stop [shootings in ] Santa Barbara, or San Bernardino, or Rancho Tehama, or Thousand Oaks, or the recent Sacramento shooting blocks from the Capitol.”
“There’s something deeper going on,” Gallagher wrote, suggesting mental health and radicalization are to blame for continued episodes of gun violence.
But Newsom said gun deaths in California are less frequent than in states with loose gun laws. He pointed to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing California had about 800 fewer gun deaths in 2020 than Texas.
“We know these policies work to save lives,” he said. “Are they exclusively the only approach? Absolutely not.”
The U.S. House has passed legislation to expand background checks for all gun sales, but without support from Republicans, nationwide gun reforms lack the votes to pass in the Senate.
“Until we break through with the United States Senate, we’re not going to give up or give in to that cynicism,” Newsom said. “We’re not going to roll over and accept the status quo. That’s the best we can do under the current circumstances.”
Newsom said until then, he will continue to urge governors and mayors in other states to enact gun measures similar to those implemented in California.
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