After Sacramento Mass Shooting, California Says F*ck Texas, Let’s Sue Gun Manufacturers

Following a mass shooting that left six people dead and 12 people wounded early Sunday morning, California lawmakers are calling for passage of new gun restrictions. They include a measure, modeled on Texas’s abortion ban, that would allow private citizens to sue makers and sellers of assault-style weapons and so-called “ghost guns.” At this point in the investigation, authorities haven’t specifically said what type of weapons were used in the Sacramento shooting, although witnesses reported hearing many shots in rapid succession. Police said more than 100 rounds were fired, apparently by multiple shooters.

The LA Times reports today that one stolen firearm used in the shooting had been illegally converted to fully automatic, allowing a continuous stream of fire with a single pull of the trigger. Most civilian firearms are semiautomatic, firing one bullet with each pull of the trigger.

Two suspects have been arrested so far; one of the men, Smiley Martin, 27, is still hospitalized, but when he’s sufficiently recovered, authorities say he’ll be charged with “possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and possession of a machine gun,” according to the Associated Press. His brother, Dandrae Martin, 26, was arrested Monday and charged with assault with a deadly weapon and with being a convict carrying a loaded firearm. Neither man has yet been charged with homicide, and it’s not clear yet whether additional suspects are being sought. Smiley Martin allegedly posted a picture of himself Saturday to social media, showing him holding the gun.

The Sacramento Fire Department said that of the dozen people wounded in the shooting, at least four had suffered critical injuries, while seven had been released from hospitals by Monday. The shooting happened around 2 a.m. Sunday morning as bars were closing. The AP reports police are investigating whether the shootings were related to a street fight that broke out in the area just before the shooting.

Following the shooting, President Joe Biden released a statement Sunday calling for Congress to take action to ban “ghost guns,” which are assembled from parts that lack serial numbers, as well as banning assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines. Both of the latter are already illegal in California, which has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, but which also sees lots of weapons brought in illegally from Arizona and Nevada, where guns are easy to buy. The Justice Department has launched five “gun trafficking strike forces” aimed at cracking down on illegal firearms transfers.

At the state level, the Los Angeles Times reports, California lawmakers have already introduced several bills aimed at reducing the number of guns in circulation, including a ban on “ghost guns, a bill restricting firearm ads aimed at minors, and a bill that would prohibit firearms and ammunition from being sold on government property, which would effectively ban gun shows held at county fairgrounds.” Previous attempts to stop gun shows at fairgrounds have failed.

The most aggressive proposal, however, is Assembly Bill 1594which is modeled on Texas’s abortion ban, only instead of allowing private citizens to sue nearly anyone involved in an abortion, it would allow a “private right of action” allowing plaintiffs to sue gun manufacturers, dealers, or importers. As a February press release from the office of Gov. Gavin Newsom explained, the bill would exploit a loophole in the federal law that bans liability lawsuits against gun manufacturers and dealers. The federal statute “allows gun makers or sellers to be sued for violations of state laws concerning the sale or marketing of firearms.” Newsom said the bill would require

the gun industry to take reasonable steps to make sure their products are not used unlawfully. If the gun industry ignores this responsibility – one that is common for companies in nearly every industry in the country – this bill gives victims and their families an additional legal pathway for holding the firearm industry financially responsible.”

Newsom has said that “There is no principled way the US Supreme Court can’t uphold this law. It is quite literally modeled after the law they just upheld in Texas.” So there, gun-humpers.

[AP / LAT / White House / LAT / Gov. Gavin Newsom / Cal Matters]

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