As of today, if someone is the victim of gun violence, it is tricky to sue the gunmaker or seller and make them pay for damages because a 2005 federal law protects them from most of these lawsuits.
However, the law does not protect against lawsuits when a state law is violated. This is the loophole used in California’s Assembly Bill 1594 authorizing private citizens harmed by illegal gun use to sue manufacturers or sellers.
California Governor Gavin Newsom has based his bill proposal on the recently passed Texas anti-abortion law, which allows private citizens to sue anyone who helps a woman seek access to an abortion anytime after the sixth week of pregnancy. When it went to the Supreme Court, the Court decided to uphold the Texas anti-abortion law, and therefore set the precedent that states are allowed to shield their laws from review by the federal courts. In response, Newsom stated that “California will use that authority to protect people’s lives, where Texas used it to put women in harm’s way.”
The California bill is still in its early stages, but AB1594 would permit lawsuits against members of the gun industry who failed to follow firearm laws, classifying violations under the umbrella of public nuisance .