May 23, 2023
NSSF Challenges California’s Law Encouraging Frivolous Firearm Industry Lawsuits
WASHINGTON, D.C. — NSSF®, The Firearm Industry Trade Association, filed a challenge to California’s unconstitutional firearm industry liability law, AB 1594, that was passed last year and signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom. The law encourages civil suits against the firearm industry for the damages caused by the criminal actions of remote third parties. This law is an affront to the U.S. Constitution and abuses the judicial system in an attempt to circumvent the will of the U.S. Congress when it passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA). The law goes into effect July 23.
NSSF filed NSSF v. Bonta in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. NSSF will seek a preliminary injunction to halt enforcement of the unconstitutional law as the challenge progresses through the courts.
“California’s General Assembly and Governor Newsom made a spectacle of defying the U.S. Supreme Court’s Bruen decision when this bill was passed and enacted,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “This law is openly hostile to the firearm industry and also defiant to Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court and the Constitution. Governor Newsom’s angst toward the foundations of America’s freedoms exceeds the borders of his state and his law attempts to exert California’s radical gun control agenda across the United States. NSSF will defend our Constitutionally-protected industry against the broadsides of this extremist agenda.”
NSSF’s challenge explains that AB 1594, misleadingly titled the “Firearm Industry Responsibility Act,” is a law that was drafted prior to the Bruen decision and signed just weeks after the Supreme Court published the landmark ruling. Rather than re-examining the legislation to ensure it complied with Supreme Court precedent, Gov. Newsom forged ahead, challenging the ruling when he signed it.
The law bans the manufacture, sale and marketing of firearms the state deems “abnormally dangerous” regardless of if they are commonly-owned. It also encourages civil lawsuits by a person who has suffered harm in California, the Attorney General, or city or county attorneys against a firearm industry member for the harm caused by the criminal misuse of a firearm by a remote third party. This is expressly prohibited by PLCAA. The law unconstitutionally invades the sovereignty of sister states by directly regulating lawful commerce occurring entirely and wholly outside the state of California in violation of the Commerce Clause and our system of federalism.
Further, the law not only infringes on Second Amendment rights but 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.
California’s AB 1594 is clearly unconstitutional on several fronts. The law is an affront to the U.S. Constitution and rights that belong to the People. It is nothing less than an unlawful attempt to abuse the courts to achieve “legislation through litigation.”
NSSF is the trade association for the firearm industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearm retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers nationwide. For more information, visit nssf.org.