Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed legislation into law Tuesday allowing California residents who are victims of crime to sue gun makers.
Politico reports that the legislation Newsom signed was sponsored by Assembly member Phil Ting (D-San Francisco).
The new law means gun makers “could face lawsuits if their products are ‘abnormally dangerous,’ are sold in a way that lets them be illegally converted, or end up in the hands of people who are prohibited from owning firearms.”
Newsom tweeted a video in the lead-up to singing the bill. He used the video to claim gun makers have “[shielded] themselves from any liability,” then pointed out the bill he was signing would remove that immunity in California.
Gun manufacturers & distributors have been shielded from the mass destruction they cause for too long.
Today, CA changes that.
I just signed a bill that will allow victims of gun violence to sue the makers of these deadly weapons & hold them accountable. pic.twitter.com/S0AlrrkhML
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) July 12, 2022
Newsom’s claims about gun makers being shielded from liability are reminiscent of President Joe Biden’s many claims that gun manufacturers enjoy “legal immunity” because of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA).
Breitbart News fact checked Biden’s “legal immunity” claim and found it to be false. The legal protections set forth in PLCAA shield gun makers from frivolous suits, not from all suits whatsoever.
PLCAA shields gun makers from lawsuits in situations where a gun, criminally used, was legally made and legally sold.
In other words, Glock cannot be sued over a handgun that was used in a crime if that handgun was legally made, then distributed from the factory to a Federal Firearms License holder (FFL), then sold via a National Instant Criminal Background System (NICS) check to an individual at retail.
The text of PLCAA states:
Businesses in the United States that are engaged in interstate and foreign commerce through the lawful design, manufacture, marketing, distribution, importation, or sale to the public of firearms or ammunition products that have been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce are not, and should not, be liable for the harm caused by those who criminally or unlawfully misuse firearm products or ammunition products that function as designed and intended.
However, the protections set forth in the PLCAA do not shield gun manufacturers from lawsuits over defective goods, criminal misconduct on the part of the gun maker, etc. In other words, the protections in PLCAA do not provide gun makers with “legal immunity.”
Politico notes that the law Newsom signed “is likely to face a court challenge.” That challenge will likely claim the new California law violates the protections set forth in PLCAA.
The bill Newsom signed does not take effect until the summer of 2023.