On gun politics, California’s Newsom borrows from the Texas playbook

It was late last year that Republicans in Texas blazed a new legal trail with a different kind of abortion ban. As we discussed, the Lone Star State has effectively deputized random citizens, allowing them to sue those who have abortions after six weeks of pregnancy for $10,000, plus attorneys’ fees. The result was, and still is, a system that turned anti-abortion activists into bounty hunters.

Republican-appointed U.S. Supreme Court justices gave Texas the green light to implement the policy six months before it was overturned Roe vs. Wade.

Soon after, this seemed to give Democrats in California an idea: why not apply this same model to gun laws?

“If states can shield their laws from federal court review, then [California] will use that authority to help protect lives,” California Governor Gavin Newsom said in December, adding, “If the most effective way to keep these devastating weapons off our streets is to add the threat of private prosecution, we should do just that. ”

We now know it wasn’t all bluster. Like the Los Angeles Times reportedthe Democratic governor on Friday signed into law a new state measure inspired by Texas’ vigilante abortion ban.

The new gun law, which is slated to take effect in January, will allow individuals to sue anyone who imports, distributes, manufactures or sells illegal firearms in California, such as assault weapons, rifles .50 BMG and so-called ghost weapons. The law requires a court to order $10,000 in damages for each weapon used in an alleged violation, plus attorneys’ fees. The bill was drafted so that if the Texas law is overturned, California’s would be overridden as well.

When the Supreme Court gave the green light to ban abortion in Texas, Chief Justice John Roberts warned in a dissent that the state law could serve as a “model for action in other areas.”

Obviously he was onto something.

Moreover, there is clearly a political and electoral dimension to this political dispute. BNC News reported:

California Gov. Gavin Newsom runs full-page ads in Texas newspapers on Friday calling on Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to highlight a new California gun law modeled after the restrictive gun law. Lone Star State Abortion. The ads, first shared with NBC News, will run in Austin American-Statesman, Houston Chronicle and El Paso Times. They alter a quote from Abbott about the state’s abortion ban and promote “California’s response to Texas’ perverse bill.”

“If Texas can ban abortion and put lives at risk, California can ban deadly weapons of war and save lives. If Governor Abbott is serious about protecting the right to life, we urge him to follow California’s lead,” the announcement read.

It also comes on the heels of Newsom run ads in floridapointing to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis for taking a series of actions aimed at undermining the freedoms of his constituents.

One might get the impression that the California governor isn’t just promoting progressive political goals, he also seems to be raising his national profile.


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