On July 22, Governor Gavin Newsom signed California’s new gun law, which allows residents to sue anyone who imports, distributes, manufactures, or sells illegal firearms. The legislation is modeled after Senate Bill 8, a Texas law that allows private individuals to sue to enforce its six-week ban on abortion. The new California law is expected to face legal challenges, but is still constitutionally sound?
“Can you ban assault weapons, can you ban ghost guns? And that's something that's now seriously in question as a result of a ruling that Justice Thomas wrote just a month ago, where he said, ‘Okay, when we're interpreting the Second Amendment … we look at the text. If something falls under the Second Amendment, then we look at our nation's history and tradition, but we don't look too far ahead. Just look at when the Second Amendment was enacted, and then just look at the 14th Amendment,’” explains Jessica Levinson, law professor at Loyola Law School.
Additionally, there’s the question of whether the enforcement mechanism is legal. “Can you have a private right of action to sue? Maybe it's too soon to say no more assault weapons, no more ghost guns. Maybe it's to sue to say don't help a woman obtain an abortion. And that's a different inquiry.”