Hertzberg Bill Creates Landmark Private Right of Action to Limit Spread of Illegal Weapons

SB 1327 creates private right of action in fight against the spread of illegal ghost guns and assault weapons

February 18, 2022

DEL MAR – Senate Majority Leader Emeritus Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) joined Governor Gavin Newsom to announce new legislation today that heeds the Governor’s call for a bill to limit the spread of dangerous assault weapons and ghost guns utilizing similar tactics to Texas’ recent abortion law.

“In a just world, a woman's right to choose would be sacrosanct, and California's people would be protected from ghost guns and assault weapons. Sadly, a Supreme Court decision has turned common sense on its head,” Majority Leader Emeritus Herzberg said. “With this bill, we take advantage of the Court’s flawed logic to protect all Californians and save lives.”

Senate Bill 1327, modeled after Texas’ SB 8, creates a first-in-the-nation private right of action for citizens to use against those who manufacture, distribute, transport, import into California, or sell assault weapons, .50 BMG rifles, ghost guns, or ghost gun kits.

“We are committed to using every legal tool at our disposal to get these weapons of war off our streets,” Hertzberg said. “I look forward to rushing this new bill to the Governor’s desk to take advantage of the Court’s guidance to create a safer California.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom asked the Legislature to send him a bill leveraging the same tactics as the Texas abortion law after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to block the law in December.

“I’m really grateful to Senator Hertzberg for having the courage to take this and to take the gun lobby on,” Newsom said. “If Texas can use a law to ban a woman’s right to choose and to put her health at risk, we will use that same law to save lives and improve the health and safety of the people of the State of California.”

The bill is co-authored by Senator Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) and Assemblymembers Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), Mike Gipson (D-Carson) and Chris Ward (D-San Diego).

“We must do everything we can to address the gun violence epidemic that plagues our country. No parent or grandparent should ever get a call about a child we failed to protect when we had the opportunity to do so. It’s time to hold gun manufacturers accountable for their part in perpetuating this crisis,” said Senator Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge). “We've now seen the precedent set to empower individuals to bring civil actions. We must seize this moment to extend that ability against those who manufacture, distribute or transport ghost guns into California. I appreciate the Governor's leadership and look forward to working with him, Senator Hertzberg and my colleagues as we continue to strengthen our state’s gun laws and make our families and communities safer.”

“We must make our communities safer. Almost every industry in the United States can be held liable for how they manufacture, market and sell their products, but the gun industry is not held to the same standard,” said Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco). “Financial repercussions may finally push them to be more responsible by improving their practices and adhering to California’s strict gun laws.”

“I commend Senator Hertzberg for championing SB 1327 and am proud to stand alongside as principal co-author on an important issue that will provide justice for families who have continued to bear the burden of losing a loved one due to senseless gun violence,” said Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-Carson). “Even before the pandemic, stories from families of gun violence have kept me up at night. My own son and his fiancé were victims… and this issue has only gotten worse. In the community of Watts which I represent, there were 22 homicides from January through November of 2020, nearly double the number from the year before. For communities alike, gun violence is our wildfire that we work diligently trying to contain. And the casualties are our babies, sisters, brothers, friends and acquaintances - all deserving of life but were cut short of their potential. Sending thoughts and prayers just isn’t enough. We need action now.”

“In California, 30% of all firearms now recovered by law enforcement are unserialized, untraceable ‘ghost guns,’ according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives,” said Assemblymember Chris Ward (D-San Diego). “Despite already being illegal in our state, this is a growing problem that is quickly getting out of control. I’m proud to co-author this bill with Senator Hertzberg to allow individuals to bring civil actions against those who continue to manufacture, transport and distribute these weapons in California.”

Download the fact sheet here.