California Attorney General Rob Bonta applauded Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signing of Assembly Bill 1594 continuing California’s efforts to enact commonsense measures to prevent gun violence. As part of the package of approved legislation, the governor signed AB 1594, sponsored by Bonta, the Brady Campaign, and authored by Assemblymember Philip Ting.
“There have been more mass shootings in our nation than days in the year, and yet many members of the gun industry continue to use a combination of bullying, exploitation, and fear to rack up profits from the very tools used in these shootings,” said Bonta. “There is no reason that the gun industry should be the only industry exempt from responsibility for the harm that its products cause, especially when its products are responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans each year.
“In California, we refuse to settle with thoughts and prayers as innocent lives are lost — we demand and will deliver urgent action, now. I am grateful to the governor for signing AB 1594 which will allow Californians to hold the gun industry accountable for the harm caused by its products. In California, we won’t let this industry off the hook,” he added.
“To the victims of gun violence and their families: California stands with you. The gun industry can no longer hide from the devastating harm their products cause,” said Newsom. “Our kids, families and communities deserve streets free of gun violence and gun makers must be held accountable for their role in this crisis. Nearly every industry is held liable when people are hurt or killed by their products — guns should be no different.”
AB 1594 restores the rights of Californians to hold the firearm industry responsible for their misconduct. The law governs the sale and marketing practices of firearms manufacturers and distributors who do business in California, requiring them to make reasonable efforts to prevent their products from being used unlawfully.
If gun industry members fail to take proper precautions in their marketing and distribution, AB 1594 will authorize the attorney general and individual Californians to file civil suits to recoup the damage from those failures.
In the United States, nearly every industry is held legally responsible when their misconduct harms consumers. Despite this, after intense lobbying from the gun industry, in 2005 the federal government enacted the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA). PLCAA provides the firearm industry unique and broad freedom to operate with little to no liability.
Consistent with an exception in PLCAA, AB 1594 creates a clear path within California state law for the public and the Attorney General’s Office to hold gun manufacturers and distributors responsible for their unlawful conduct by allowing for civil suits to proceed against a gun manufacturer. AB 1594 requires the gun industry to take reasonable steps to make sure their products are not used unlawfully. If the gun industry ignores this responsibility this law gives victims and their families an additional legal pathway for holding the firearm industry financially responsible.