Thomas Gallatin / December 14, 2021

Newsom’s Opportunistic Attack on Guns

California’s governor says he’ll use the Texas abortion law as a model for undercutting the Second Amendment.

“I am outraged by [the] U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing Texas’s ban on most abortion services to remain in place,” California Governor Gavin Newsom huffed over the weekend. “But if states can now shield their laws from review by the federal courts that compare assault weapons to Swiss army knives, then California will use that authority to protect people’s lives, where Texas used it to put women in harm’s way.”

So, a woman hampered from being able to easily end the life of her preborn baby is the one harmed? Yikes. This sort of logic is that upon which an agenda is built — the concept of special rights for some. It results in devastating consequences, namely the government-sanctioned ending of the lives of the most innocent among us, the preborn.

It is indeed ironic that Newsom claims to be acting to protect lives when his efforts will cost lives. Moreover, he’s pushing to severely limit Californians’ access to their Second Amendment rights using the Texas law that actually does save lives by limiting abortions.

Newsom plans to create a law based on the Texas formula that would effectively ban “assault”-style weapons and “ghost guns” while using private citizens’ legal action as the enforcement mechanism.

“I have directed my staff to work with the Legislature and the attorney general on a bill that would create a right of action allowing private citizens to seek injunctive relief, and statutory damages of at least $10,000 per violation plus costs and attorney’s fees, against anyone who manufactures, distributes, or sells an assault weapon or ghost gun kit or parts in the state of California,” Newsom said. “If the most efficient way to keep these devastating weapons off our streets is to add the threat of private lawsuits, we should do just that.”

Rifles of any type are used to murder between 200 and 300 people each year. That’s not minimization. It’s context. Because here’s another irony: Abortions are responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in California each year — many times that of all firearms combined.

Unfortunately, while Newsom’s comments are egregious, what he has done is exposed the biggest problem with Texas’s novel anti-abortion law. If a law can be designed with the intention of creating a legal workaround from holding the state accountable for enforcement of a law, then it can be used against conservative interests just as easily as Texas is using it against abortion. Success in court isn’t guaranteed, but this will create serious headaches for gun owners in the meantime.

As for the abortion case, SCOTUS’s decision to not place an injunction against Texas’s new law until it hears the case is the right decision, but that does not by any means suggest that the justices are preparing to uphold the controversial law. The reasoning on SCOTUS’s part is sound. The Wall Street Journal editorial board observes: “The key question: Who can sue whom? S.B.8 was written to be difficult to block before its enforcement, because state officials were meant to play no role. Instead the law authorizes private parties to bring lawsuits. So until somebody tries to enforce S.B.8, where can abortion providers go to seek relief? The Court unanimously agreed Friday in Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson that they cannot pre-emptively bring a lawsuit against a citizen who swore he had no plans to try to enforce S.B.8.”

SCOTUS will eventually rule on Texas’s novel anti-abortion law, and it likely will be a ruling that has wide-ranging ramifications either way the Court decides. Until then, Newsom may have merely fired the first shot across the bow.

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