In Aftermath of Sacramento Shooting, California Lawmakers Detail Measures to End Gun Violence

Hertzberg legislation creating first-in-nation private right of action against assault weapons clears first vote

April 5, 2022

SACRAMENTO – Just blocks from the scene of the worst mass shooting in Sacramento’s history, Senate Majority Leader Emeritus Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) joined legislative leaders on the West Steps of the Capitol Building to detail commonsense gun violence solutions that are advancing through the legislative process. 

The press conference came as Senator Hertzberg’s major gun reform legislation, Senate Bill 1327, cleared its first hurdle and passed the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“The alarm bells are blaring. We could not have a clearer call for action to stop gun violence than what happened on Sunday at the doorstep of our state’s democracy,” Hertzberg said. “I am proud to work with Governor Newsom and his administration to bring accountability to gun manufacturers and others who are flooding our streets with dangerous and deadly weapons. The Legislature will act.”

SB 1327, modeled after Texas’ SB 8, creates a first-in-the-nation private right of action for citizens to bring a civil action against those who manufacture, distribute, transport, import into California, or sell assault weapons, .50 BMG rifles, ghost guns, or ghost gun kits. It allows citizens to sue for $10,000 on each weapon involved, as well as attorney fees.

“This creates a powerful incentive for folks to help get these weapons off the streets and out of the hands of criminals,” he said. “It also creates a powerful deterrent effect for those seeking these kinds of weapons.”

Governor Gavin Newsom, an official sponsor of the legislation, is expected to sign the bill.

“This week’s unconscionable act of gun violence is a tragic reminder of the lives that are at stake in this crisis that endangers communities across the country,” said Governor Newsom. “Today, the Legislature took an important step towards holding the gun industry accountable for mass shootings in our communities involving illegal firearms and protecting residents, utilizing the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that allowed private citizens in Texas the ability to sue abortion providers. So long as the Supreme Court has set this precedent, California will use it to save lives.”

“The continued need to adopt smart and sensible solutions to our nation’s tragic history of gun violence is dire and necessary. We must continue to take meaningful steps toward combatting the gun violence epidemic in our country and improve public safety for all Californians,” said Senator Portantino, the bill’s joint author. “That includes SB 1327 - which I have jointly authored with Senator Hertzberg to empower individuals to bring civil lawsuits against those who manufacture, distribute or transport ghost guns into California. I am proud to stand here with my colleagues as we work together to keep our communities safe. Let’s be clear the NRA will continue to oppose us as it did with SB 906 making our schools less safe and we need to be diligent with our efforts.”

Other bills addressing gun violence include:

  • AB 1594 (Ting) – Allows individuals, local governments and the Attorney General to sue firearm manufacturers and sellers for the harm their products cause
  • AB 2571 (Bauer-Kahan) - Prohibits the marketing of certain categories of weapons to children
  • AB 1621 (Gipson) – Tightens ghost gun restrictions

“We must make our communities safer. Almost every industry in the United States can be held liable for what their products do, but the gun industry is not held to the same standard. Financial repercussions may finally push them to be more responsible by improving their practices and adhering to California’s strict gun laws,” said Assemblymember Ting.

“Today, I stood by my legislative colleagues to address an issue that has posed as a wildfire in the 64th Assembly District and in communities alike across the nation: gun violence. On the morning of April 3rd, six lives were STOLEN, and 12 or more were wounded, in a horrific act of senselessness and selfishness. How many more of our brothers, sisters, babies, friends, and acquaintances must we lose before we see change?” said Assemblymember Gipson. “My heart is not just broken, it is shattered into pieces. Johntaya Alexander, Melinda Davis, Sergio Harris, Joshua Hoye-Lucchesi, Yamile Martinez-Andrade, and Devazia Turner - bullets have no names, but we will continue to say theirs. Though a ghost gun may not have been used in the Sacramento mass shooting, banning them is a critical piece of the puzzle to save lives. So much that after this tragic shooting, President Joe Biden has once again called on more reforms, including a ban on ghost guns at the federal level. In January of this year, I introduced Assembly Bill 1621, which will completely ban ghost guns in every community in California. This is not about taking away the rights of legal gun owners, but it is about making sure that dangerous and untraceable weapons are eradicated. We have to stop the killing and start the healing. I want to especially thank Governor Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta for their leadership along this topic, and my colleagues in the Legislature, including Senate Majority Leader Emeritus Bob Hertzberg for leading this press event, who stood together today to speak in solidarity. I also want to thank all of the advocates and families who work day in and day out for solutions alongside us.”

“We are mourning the lives lost from yet another horrific mass shooting. California is only as safe as the nearest state that has not taken action to prevent gun violence,” said Assemblymember Bauer-Kahan. “We must stop accepting inaction at the federal level, but we will continue to lead the way and show this county what is possible and necessary. Our epidemic of gun violence in this country is not blameless. Too often we see gun manufacturer’s targeting children as their next generation of advocates and consumers using slick advertising, video games, and even children’s books. In California, children are not allowed to own a gun and yet we allow the gun manufacturers to target them. Guns are not a toy, they are a tool of death, we must pass AB 2571 and end the normalizing of their violence.”

“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," said Assemblymember Ward, a joint author of AB 1594. “This is a public health crisis that the federal government has continually failed to address. California must take action and hold irresponsible, reckless and negligent gun manufacturers, distributors and sellers accountable.”

Gun violence prevention advocates Moms Demand Action and The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence were also on hand to urge support for the legislation.

“Californians are tired of gun violence dominating our news and devastating our communities,” said Krystal LoPilato volunteer leader with the California chapter of Moms Demand Action. “And, unfortunately this public health crisis stretches further than the shootings that make the news. Our hearts are with all the survivors and victims of the shooting in Sacramento and we are committed to fighting for legislation that would ensure accountability for the individuals and manufacturers contributing to this violence.”

“The mass shooting in Sacramento last weekend is a heartbreaking reminder of the urgent need for more action to prevent gun violence,” said Brady Vice President of Organizing and California resident Shikha Hamilton. “While we will learn more about this specific shooting, we should lean into innovative tools that assist law enforcement to look forward rather than failed strategies of the past. Training on proper and proven use of policies like gun violence restraining orders as well ensuring the gun industry can no longer boycott the use of microstamped technology so investigations have a firm starting point that can remove individual bias. California can continue to lead the nation in implementing gun violence prevention laws and programs.”