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Getting Answers: Are California's New Gun Laws Constitutional? UC Davis Law Professor Breaks It Down

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — California's strict gun laws just got tougher. Gun makers and dealers in the state will be required to block firearms sales to anyone at risk of breaking the law. It's part of a slew of new gun control laws signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

This week, Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1594 which creates a standard of conduct within the firearms industry. It is also known as the Firearm Responsibility Act which was signed to "protect public health and safety" in California by "promoting safe and responsible firearm industry member practices." The standard would also hold firearm industry members accountable if they are found responsible for breaking the law, or "wrongful conduct" that endangers the public.

The list of new laws comes less than a month after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against restrictions on carrying firearms in public, which was a step in the right direction for gun rights advocates like the executive director of Gun Owners of California, Sam Paredes.

"The laws that are being proposed by the legislature have nothing to do and will have zero impact on the misuse of firearms in the public," said Paredes.

Gun Violence Survivor

Paredes said the legislation is unconstitutional and is in violation of the First and Second amendments. In the slew of new laws, Paredes said California lawmakers who support the legislation are "attacking the lawful chain of commerce."

Ask a gun violence survivor, and there's a different answer as to the impact of the new laws. Mary Duplat, an advocate with Moms Demand Action, knows the realities of gun violence all too well, she said. Duplat's daughter died in 1988 when she was 19 years old as a victim of gun violence.

Duplat said she's become an advocate to help lawmakers pass laws, like those signed by Gov. Newsom this week, to keep others from losing people they love due to gun violence.

"Even a day-to-day shooting event in Sacramento is a pain on my heart, and I didn't want anyone else to have to deal with that," she said.

She added, "I cannot tell you how ecstatic I am about our gun sense lawmakers in California and that this bill has been passed. I am a survivor."

Are California's new gun laws constitutional?

There's no one answer, or rather, a "yes" or "no" answer as to whether the state's new gun laws are constitutional, according to Gabriel Chin, a professor of law at UC Davis School of Law. Chin explained that there will likely be a years-long legal battle over these individual laws.

"So we don't know what the impact of these laws is going to be and we won't for a while," he said.

An example is The Firearms Industry Responsibility Act that Chin said could be used as an example of the kinds of constitutional questions that may arise. He explained that if the law is defined broadly, every firearm that may make its way into California must adhere to the state's laws or companies will be eligible for penalties under California law, which he said, may be too broad.

"That's a big problem. If it's read that broadly, it won't pass constitutional muster," said Chin.

Ultimately, Chin said, the laws will be challenged because the issue has passionate advocates on both sides.

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