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Newsom, legislative leaders promise swift action on new gun control measures

Raw Video: Gov. Newsom, legislative leaders announce fast-tracked gun control measures
Raw Video: Gov. Newsom, legislative leaders announce fast-tracked gun control measures 27:43

SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state's legislative leaders announced swift action to pass new gun control initiatives Wednesday, including a bill allowing lawsuits against illegal gun manufacturers and distributors. 

The bills come in response to a mass shooting at a Texas elementary school that left 18 children and two adults dead.

The bill passed by the state Senate on Tuesday mirrors the controversial law outlawing abortions in Texas which allows individuals to sue clinics to stop abortion procedures. SB-1327 would allow Californians to sue gun manufacturers for at least $10,000 in civil damages for each weapon. It was introduced in December after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowed Texas to enforce its abortion ban. It now heads to the Assembly.

Newsom was joined by individual members of the state Senate and Assembly, including Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) when he announced his priortization of a series of pending gun control bills, the use of budget funding to prevent prohibited persons from attaining guns, and the creation of an office of community violence prevention.

Another bill, SB 906, would compel school districts to investigate any school shooting threats and report them to law enforcement. An Assembly bill would allow the state Department of Justice, local authorities and victims of gun violence to also sue gun manufacturers and dealers for "irresponsible, reckless, and negligent" selling or marketing of guns in the state.

More than a dozen gun control bills were pending in the legislature; Newsom and the legislators said the hope was to fast-track most of them before the July 1 summer recess.

Even with California's current stringent gun policies, the state has seen some of the deadliest mass shootings in the nation. A gunman attacked a lunch banquet at a Taiwanese church in Laguna Woods earlier this month, killing one person and wounding five others. That mass shooting came just weeks after another deadly shooting in Sacramento that killed six people and injured a dozen more just blocks from the state Capitol.

Newsom said the state will continue "lean into" progressive policies to stop the abuse and proliferation of guns while pushing the federal government to adopt similar measures.

"California leads this conversation," said Newsom."When California moves, others move in the same direction."

California enacted an assault weapons ban in 1989 which led to passage of a federal assault weapons ban in 1994. To obtain crucial votes from the GOP, the federal ban contained a "sunset" provision to automatically expire after 10 years unless renewed by a vote of Congress, which it failed to do.

Last June, U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez overturned California's law banning the sale and manufacture of many assault-style guns, calling the law unconstitutional and comparing the AR-15 rifle to a Swiss Army knife. Earlier this month, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down California's ban on people under 21 from buying semiautomatic rifles. Trump-appointed Judge Ryan Nelson wrote the opinion, and on Wednesday Newsom referred to both Nelson and Benitez during Wednesday's news conference saying "they need to be called out."

"These are extremists. That's the world we're living in right now, wake up folks," said Newsom. "Read these opinions. Pay attention to what's going on."

Newsom also lambasted Republican lawmakers for blocking gun control measures on a federal level, and countered the claim by Texas Governor Gregg Abbott at his own Wednesday press conference that tougher gun control laws were ineffective in preventing gun violence. Newsom said California "consistently outperformed other states in terms of gun murder rates and gun death rates."

"Governor Abbott just name-checked the state of California, I would caution him from doing that," Newsom said. "Particularly, and you can just go to the CDC website and look at the gun murder rate in 2020 that was 67% higher than the state of California in 2020."

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