Gun manufacturers may be liable to the victims of gun violence, according to a bill signed in California on Tuesday.

California governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1594 into law on Tuesday after it passed successfully through the state assembly. The new law allows individuals, companies, and local or state governments to sue gun makers for violations of state firearms laws, like shipping online purchases to states with gun control laws prohibiting that.

“For far too long, the firearms industry has enjoyed federal immunity from civil lawsuits, providing them no incentive for them to follow our laws. Hitting their bottom line may finally compel them to step up to reduce gun violence by preventing illegal sales and theft,” said Assemblymember Phil Ting, a co-author of the bill.

Federally, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which passed Congress in 2005 under President Bush, protects gun manufacturers and dealers from lawsuits regarding their products. The PLCAA has been wielded broadly, but it does allow suit where manufacturers and dealers have violated state law. AB 1594 specifies that irresponsible dealing and marketing is directly in violation of state law, opening that carve-out wide.

“This bill is a significant step toward holding irresponsible, reckless and negligent gun manufacturers, distributors and sellers accountable,” said Assemblymember Chris Ward, another author of the bill. “The U.S. has less than 5% of the world’s population, yet we make up nearly a third of the world’s mass shootings. I’m proud to joint author AB 1594 and support other common sense gun reforms that will help make our communities safer.”

California’s recent gun regulations have seen severe drops in California’s gun crime rate, which currently stands more than a third below the national average, and a quarter below in terms of mass shootings.

“To the victims of gun violence and their families: California stands with you. The gun industry can no longer hide from the devastating harm their products cause,” said Governor Newsom at the signing of the bill.

Photo: Matt Gush / Shutterstock

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