What to Know About California’s Head-Turning Gun Control Law

Relatives of Alexandria Rubio, a 10-year-old victim of the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, mourned their loss on Friday.Credit…Ivan Pierre Aguirre for The New York Times

By one measure, Californians are about 25 percent less likely to die in mass shootings compared with residents of other states. Our state’s low rate of gun deaths is at least in part because of our strict firearm laws, experts say.

But after a number of devastating shootings across the U.S. this year, California is now tightening those gun rules even more.

This month alone, Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed into law more than 10 new firearm restrictions. These include fresh limits on gun advertising to minors; increased inspections of dealers; and a 10-year ban on firearm possession for those convicted of child abuse or elder abuse.

The most high-profile of these laws allows Californians to sue anyone who distributes banned assault weapons or ghost guns. The legislation, which Newsom signed on Friday, is modeled after a Texas law that allows private citizens to sue anyone who aids and abets in an abortion.

“If they are going to use this framework to put women’s lives at risk, we are going to use it to save people’s lives here in the state of California. That’s the spirit, the principle, behind this law,” Newsom said during a news conference on Friday.

The governor’s decision to co-opt Texas’s legal strategy and take out ads attacking Republican governors in Florida and Texas has been turning heads in national political circles, my colleague Shawn Hubler explained in her latest article.

Today, I’m going to walk you through what you need to know about California’s latest (and most controversial) gun bill, the capstone of the sweeping firearm legislation that Newsom has approved in recent weeks.

What exactly does the new law do?

Senate Bill 1327 allows Californians to sue anyone who distributes illegal assault weapons, parts that can be used to build weapons, guns without serial numbers or .50-caliber rifles. The law also allows people to pursue legal challenges against licensed firearms dealers who sell weapons to anyone under 21.

Under the law, awards of at least $10,000 per weapon and legal fees will be awarded to plaintiffs who successfully sue.

The law is set to take effect in January. But it includes a legal trigger that would automatically invalidate it if the courts strike down the Texas law.

Where did the idea come from?

In December, Newsom called for legislation that would allow private citizens to enforce the state’s gun laws.

He was responding to the U.S. Supreme Court’s declining to block a Texas law that gives people the power to sue anyone involved in someone receiving an abortion, from the doctor who performs the procedure to the Uber driver who dropped the patient off at the clinic. Under that law, plaintiffs are entitled to $10,000 and their legal fees recovered if they win.

Newsom tapped state Senator Bob Hertzberg, a San Fernando Valley Democrat, to shepherd the California bill through the Legislature. It was introduced in February.

Who opposes it?

An unusual mix of gun rights groups and the American Civil Liberties Union have spoken out against S.B. 1327.

In a letter opposing California’s legislation, the A.C.L.U. warned that Newsom was empowering a legal framework that he is trying to condemn.

“We admire and share the Governor’s commitment to reproductive freedom, and we do not take issue with his legitimate concerns about the deadly proliferation of illegal guns. But there is no way to ‘take advantage of the flawed logic’ of the Texas law,” the letter reads.

The law is expected to face legal challenges that could ultimately land at the Supreme Court.

For more:

  • President Biden recently signed the most significant gun violence legislation to clear Congress in nearly three decades.

  • Gun deaths surged during the pandemic’s first year.

  • A partial list of mass shootings in the United States in 2022.

A sequoia, center, in Kings Canyon National Park that was burned in a 2015 fire.Credit…Max Whittaker for The New York Times

The rest of the news

  • Sequoias: The U.S. Forest Service said that it would take emergency action, including removing low-lying vegetation that can fuel fires and other measures, to protect giant sequoia groves that are threatened by wildfires.

  • Baby bonds: California is the first state to commit to setting up trust funds for children who lost a parent or caregiver to the pandemic, The Associated Press reports.

  • Housing crisis: Right now, builders have too many homes and not enough people to sell them to. But in the long term, the U.S. has the opposite problem: Not enough houses for all the people who want them.


  • Shooting: Two people were killed and five were injured when one or more people opened fire during a car club show in a Los Angeles park on Sunday afternoon, the authorities said.

  • Plane crash: A small plane crashed onto a plant nursery near San Diego, leaving the pilot with serious injuries and killing the passenger, The San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

  • Marines: The U.S. Marine Corps will keep its new amphibious combat vehicle out of the water while it investigates why two of the vehicles ran into trouble off San Diego’s coast this week amid high surf, The Associated Press reports.


  • Oak Fire: A fast-growing wildfire near Yosemite National Park has become the state’s largest blaze this season, burning more than 14,000 acres and forcing thousands of residents to flee as of Sunday.


  • Google: The tech company fired an engineer who claims an artificial intelligence chatbot had achieved consciousness.

Credit…Chris Simpson for The New York Times

What we’re eating

A cake reminiscent of Black Forest gâteau but with more chocolaty depth.

Byers Canyon, Col., as seen from the observation car.Credit…Marta Giaccone

Where we’re traveling

A photographer traveled across America on Amtrak’s California Zephyr, considered by many rail enthusiasts to be among the most scenic long-distance train routes in the United States.

Here’s what she saw.

Credit…Craig Goward Hermes

And before you go, some good news

Despite its name, the annual Three-Legged Dog Picnic in San Francisco is not just for tri-pawed pups.

“Dogs with cones, casts, one eye, wheelchairs, blind, deaf, toothless, vintage, extra lumpy, et cetera, they’re all welcome,” said Franny Corsick, the event’s organizer.

On a Sunday afternoon this month, dozens of dogs gathered in Duboce Park for the 11th annual Three-Legged Dog Picnic, which featured a dog trick show and a costume parade.

See some adorable pup-arazzi photos from SFist.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Government overthrow (4 letters).

Jack Kramer and Briana Scalia contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].


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