Firearms groups have filed a much-anticipated lawsuit challenging a California gun law modeled on Texas anti-abortion vigilantes.
Gov. Gavin Newsom specifically referred to Texas law in July when he signed Senate Bill 1327, which allows private individuals to sue the manufacturers and distributors of firearms, which are banned in California. The lawsuit, filed Monday, targets a provision — also modeled on Texas law — that requires those who challenge the state’s gun laws to pay attorneys’ fees if the challenge fails.
Section 1021.11 of the Code of Civil Procedure, added by SB 1327, would make attorneys and plaintiffs seeking to challenge gun laws or restrictions “jointly and severally liable to pay the prevailing party’s attorneys’ fees and costs.”
Plaintiffs, including San Diego firearms dealer Gunfighter Tactical, San Diego County Gun Owners PAC and the Second Amendment Foundation, allege in their lawsuit that the attorney fees statute is unconstitutional and “intended to quash firearm-related litigation.”
Newsom had called for legislation after passing a Texas law that would allow citizens to sue anyone who supports and encourages abortion.
“If they use this framework to put women’s lives at risk, we will use it to save lives here in the state of California,” Newsom said when he signed the law into law. “That is the spirit, the principle behind this law.”
The law would go into effect on January 1st.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs wrote that they are already challenging California’s ban on assault weapons.
“Section 1021.11, however, compels plaintiffs to litigate their assault weapons challenge under threat of potentially ruinous filing,” plaintiffs said.
Plaintiffs allege that the attorneys’ fees provision violates the First Amendment by “emphasizing the protected activity of firearms attorneys and attempting to choke off their access to the courts.”
“California instituted this fee shifting system in response to — and apparently in retaliation for — a similar fee shifting program that Texas enacted in connection with abortion regulations,” the plaintiffs said in the complaint. “But ti-for-tat is not a rational or valid justification for the ratings in this case.”
It was expected that once SB 1327 was passed, it would create numerous challenges from gun attorneys. The law would be void if the Texas abortion law it is modeled on is also repealed.
After the Supreme Court refused to block the Texas law in a 5-4 decision in December, some gun rights advocates feared that Texas-style methods could be used against firearms.
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-09-28/lawsuit-targets-california-gun-law-modeled-after-texas-abortion-ban Lawsuit targets California gun law modeled after Texas abortion ban