Newsom cites abortion law as he targets ‘assault weapons’

California Governor Gavin Newsom has announced a plan to allow private citizens to sue “assault weapon” manufacturers, and claims he is exercising the same legal authority behind Texas’ controversial abortion law.

“If states can shield their laws from review by federal courts, then [California] will use that authority to help protect lives, where Texas used it to put women in harm’s way,” Newsom’s office announced over the weekend.

Newsom’s staff are now drafting a bill with the state’s attorney general that will allow private citizens “to seek injunctive relief, and statutory damages of at least $10,000 per violation.”

Those who may be sued will include anyone who “manufactures, distributes, or sells an assault weapon or ghost gun kit or parts” in the state of California. “Ghost gun kits” refer to parts sold individually and used to construct a weapon that cannot therefore be traced. Although “assault weapon” typically refers to a fully automatic weapon, gun-control advocates often also refer to semi-automatic weapons such as AR-15-style rifles as “assault” rifles or “assault-style” rifles.

Newsom said his decision was prompted by his “outrage” at the Supreme Court’s recent decision to uphold a controversial Texas law that prohibits abortion once cardiac activity can be found in a fetus, which can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. The bill also opens the door for lawsuits against anyone who “aids or abets” an illegal abortion, hence the potential impact beyond Texas’s borders, on the likes of California. 

A previous prohibition in California on “assault-style” weapons was overturned by a federal judge in June.

Newsom also previously promised that California would act as a “sanctuary” for women seeking abortions and facing restrictions or bans in other states.

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