Currently, federal law blocks most people from suing gun manufacturers for injuries caused by shootings. However, some California lawmakers want to change this.
How might the law change and how could this help shooting victims?
When can victims sue?
Current federal law allows victims of shootings to sue gunmakers if they have broken local or state laws that govern the marketing or sale of guns. In 2020, the state of New York passed a law that made these types of infractions a public nuisance, enabling residents to sue gunmakers in some cases.
How might California law change?
A California legislator introduced a bill modeled on the New York law this year. Advocates for the bill point out that product manufacturers in every other industry can be liable for injuries caused by their products. They believe holding gun makers to the same standards may motivate the firearms industry to act more responsibly.
Gun advocates are currently fighting the New York law and have accused California lawmakers of using the proposed bill as an attempt to ban guns. In addition to the newly proposed liability law, the governor has prompted state lawmakers to pass legislation making it possible for citizens to enforce an assault weapons ban by filing lawsuits.
The current bill consists of just one sentence that makes it a public nuisance for gun manufacturers to break local and state gun laws in a way that results in injuries or death. It is likely to change before lawmakers get to vote on it.