Daily Column – 13th DecemBer 2021

When the state of Texas established an abortion law that delegated enforcement authority to private individuals, experts believed that this novel framework would serve as a model for other states to follow.

They were absolutely correct. California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced this weekend that he is working on a proposal that will ban assault-style weapons and would use an enforcement approach similar to that used in Texas’ abortion legislation to enforce the ban. A private citizen would be able to sue anyone who makes, distributes, or sells those weapons for a sum of up to $10,000 in damages. (Texas law provides anyone with the ability to sue abortion providers.)

In order to provide some context, California had previously outlawed assault rifles for 32 years, but that prohibition was overturned last summer by a federal judge in Washington. Following the verdict, Newsom slammed the court and immediately began exploring for new methods of enforcing the assault weapons prohibition.

Greetings from Texas!

Newsom, a Democrat, is a vocal opponent of Texas’s law, which prohibits the majority of abortions; in fact, he has committed to make California an abortion “sanctuary” if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade in the future.

So far, Texas’s law has held up in court despite a torrent of legal challenges, and the state’s Supreme Court last week upheld the bill’s constitutionality and allowed it to remain in effect. ‘Hey, if they can do it to further their policy objectives, I certainly can,’ Newsom reasoned.

Gun rights activists were forewarned about this. One non-profit organisation even filed a brief with the Supreme Court challenging Texas’s abortion law, citing the potential ramifications for the second amendment if the statute were to be upheld.

If Newsom decides to run for president, Republicans in California claim that his announcement is only “grandstanding” in order to add to his presidential resume. However, it is a sign that other states wishing to tighten their gun control laws may take a cue from Texas’ example.

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