California judge tosses Gavin Newsom's 'tyrannical' gun law

 December 21, 2022

A federal judge has partially struck down a California gun law that used a "tyrannical" mechanism to shield the government from being challenged in court.

Governor Gavin Newsom (D), in an interesting turn of events, praised the decision, saying it proved his point about a similar law in Texas restricting abortion.

Gun law struck down

Newsom's law would allow private citizens to sue manufacturers of firearms that are illegal in California, including so-called "assault weapons."

California's attorney general Rob Bonta (D) declined to defend the gun law, which was consciously modeled on Texas' abortion ban allowing citizens to sue anyone who facilitates an illegal abortion. Democrats have protested Texas' enforcement mechanism as an attempt to avoid judicial review.

In striking down Newsom's gun law, Judge Roger Benitez adopted Newsom's own reasoning and even quoted from him directly, noting that Newsom called Texas' law "cynical" and an "abomination." Newsom thanked the judge, saying he proved that the abortion ban is draconian.

"I want to thank Judge Benitez. We have been saying all along that Texas’ anti-abortion law is outrageous. Judge Benitez just confirmed it is also unconstitutional,” Newsom said.

Apples and oranges

But in his ruling, Benitez called it "not quite accurate" to say the laws are "identical." He acknowledged similarities but said Newsom "went further" by making it impossible for even successful plaintiffs to recover legal fees.

Newsom's "lopsided, unorthodox" scheme infringes on citizens' First Amendment right to petition the government by ensuring "the citizen cannot win and may be forced to pay for the government’s attorney’s fees," the judge wrote.

He also noted the right to bear arms, unlike the right to an abortion, is a "clearly enumerated constitutional right set forth in our nation’s founding documents."

"A state law that threatens its citizens for questioning the legitimacy of its firearms regulations may be familiar to autocratic and tyrannical governments, but not Americans," he wrote.

Newsom's game

It would appear that Newsom, who is rumored to have presidential ambitions, signed a law he had no intention of defending in order to elevate his national profile and draw a contrast between red states and California, which he has called, without a hint of irony, a "citadel of freedom."

Newsom's gambit is certainly "on-brand" for a governor known to aggressively feud with Republican governors who have restricted abortion and "gender-affirming care" for transgenders, and it's definitely, to quote Newsom himself, pretty cynical.

It's also based on a flimsy premise. Contrary to Newsom's apples-to-apples argument, abortion ends an innocent life every time it occurs. Guns are tools that have evil uses as well as good ones, like self-defense against attack and resisting tyranny.

But Newsom already knew that didn't he?

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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