SACRAMENTO — California Attorney General Rob Bonta applauded Governor 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 Attorney General 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 Attorney General 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.”
“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 Governor 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.”
“Gun violence is now the leading cause of death among kids and teens in the United States, surpassing car accidents. I see no better argument for stronger gun safety legislation. I thank the Governor for signing AB 1594,” said Assemblymember Ting. “For far too long, the firearms industry has enjoyed federal immunity from civil lawsuits, providing them no incentive for them to follow our laws. Hitting their bottom line may finally compel them to step up to reduce gun violence by preventing illegal sales and theft.”
“This is a historic day; California’s action will allow the victims of gun violence in California to hold the gun industry accountable for its role in their pain and suffering," said Kris Brown, President of the Brady Campaign. "This law will create a powerful incentive for the industry to change its practices and promote public safety and put the interests of the people over profits. Brady thanks Assemblymember Ting and Attorney General Bonta for their leadership on this important legislation and Gov. Newsom for signing this historic bill.”
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.
California continues its efforts to advance laws and policies that save lives and prevent gun deaths. In 2021, California saw a 37% lower gun death rate than the national average. According to the CDC, California’s gun death rate was the 44th lowest in the nation, with 8.5 gun deaths per 100,000 people – compared to 13.7 deaths per 100,000 nationally, 28.6 in Mississippi, 20.7 in Oklahoma, and 14.2 in Texas. California’s gun death rate for children is also lower than other states, and is 58% lower than the national average.
Attorney General Bonta stands with partners throughout the state to continue preventing gun violence strategically and aggressively by: