Judge Blocks California Law That Enabled Suits Against Out-of-State Makers of ‘Abnormally Dangerous’ Guns

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Do these look “abnormally dangerous” to you? (Dan Z. for SNW)

It hasn’t been a good week for California Governor Gavin Newsom, AG Rob Bonta, and their terminator-like, just-won’t-stop campaign to limit the gun rights of people in the Golden State and beyond. First, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied Bonta’s appeal for an en banc hearing of a challenge to the state’s ban on firearm advertising that’s “directed at” minors. That means a three-judge panel that already found the law likely unconstitutional and had issued an injunction against its enforcement will have the final say in the matter.

Now a US District Judge has issued an injunction blocking enforcement of a California law that reaches outside the state. The ominously-monikered Firearm Industry Responsibility Act bans the manufacture of guns the state arbitrarily deems “abnormally dangerous.”

You can see the problem here, particularly when interpreted by people like Bonta who’s never seen an attack on guns or the the people who make and own them that he couldn’t find a way to support with the full force and fury of the taxpayer-funded Attorney General’s office.

The law enforces its strictures by allowing the AG, local jurisdictions, or even private individuals to sue gun makers who produce these allegedly dangerous guns if they allege that they were somehow harmed by them. It seems that California’s attempt at regulating commerce outside the state’s boundaries in its desire to bankrupt firearms manufacturers through lawfare was a bridge too far.

The NSSF is happy with the injunction, as you might expect . . .

NSSF, The Firearm Industry Trade Association, applauded the decision by U.S. District Judge Andrew Schopler granting an injunction prohibiting the enforcement of California’s law that exposes firearm industry members to lawsuits in California for the lawful commerce in firearms that takes place entirely outside the state of California when those legally made and sold products end up being misused by criminals and others in California.

The ruling by Judge Schopler in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of California enjoined the enforcement of California AB 1594, the so-called “Firearm Industry Responsibility Act.” NSSF sued to challenge the law in June of 2023 and moved for an injunction. In granting the injunction, Judge Schopler found the law is likely unconstitutional because it violates the Commerce Clause.

“We are thankful the court enjoined the state from suing members of the firearm industry under this unconstitutional law that attempts to use the real threat of liability on commerce beyond California’s borders and impose its policy choices on its Sister states,” stated NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Lawrence G. Keane.

Among other provisions, California AB 1594 bans the manufacture, sale and marketing of firearms the state deems “abnormally dangerous.” It allows civil lawsuits against a firearm industry member to be filed by the Attorney General, any municipality and any person who claims to have suffered harm from the misuse of a legal, lawfully sold firearm by a remote third party. The law unconstitutionally invades the sovereignty of sister States by directly regulating lawful commerce occurring entirely outside the state of California in violation of the Commerce Clause and the United States’ system of federalism. The law also violates the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) enacted by Congress in 2005 to stop just these sorts of frivolous lawsuits against members of the industry.

Keane added, “We are reviewing the balance of the court’s decision and whether we will file an amended complaint to provide the court more details on how California’s unconstitutional law and its threat of crushing liability is causing real and ongoing harm to members of our industry.”

NSSF also claims in its lawsuit that the law also infringes on the Second Amendment and chills First Amendment rights by restricting protected free-speech advertising of Constitutionally-protected products that are lawfully made and sold – even when that advertising takes place outside of California’s borders.

3 Responses

  1. “Abnormally dangerous”.

    That was written into a law? Intentional vaguary with the intent to abuse.

    When I finally retire and take my guitar and harmonica on the bar circuit, that is what I am going to call myself: Abnormally Dangerous.

  2. Let California do what it wants. Its own citizens won’t stop them; let them live with the consequences. So what if gun manufacturers refuse to sell their products in the state? So what if gun owners can’t get ammo? Does it matter if CA changes its laws tomorrow, outlawing the private ownership of guns? Who cares if criminals are the only ones armed?

    Gooder and harder.

  3. Inaction against tyranny results in tyrannical actions. Californians deserve the tyranny. They allow and the societal consequences, that results from it. The Liberal/Progressive Democrats in control of the state, have no respect for court rulings that deter their ideology and no fear that the citizenry will act to remove them.

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