June 10, 2022 – Following New York’s attack against the firearms industry, the California State Assembly recently passed the Firearm Industry Responsibility Act, AB1594. AB1594 is an attempt to negate the immunity provided by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (“PLCAA”). California Assembly Bill 1594 is modeled after a similar New York law that was recently enacted. Like the New York law, AB1594 aims to create a broad statute applicable to the sale and marketing of firearms. The purpose of the statute is to allow plaintiffs to use it in an attempt to satisfy the predicate exception to the PLCAA for an action in which a manufacturer or seller knowingly violated such a statute if the violation was the proximate cause of the harm for which relief is sought.
would establish a firearm industry standard of conduct, which would require a firearm industry member, as defined, to establish, implement, and enforce reasonable controls, as defined, take reasonable precautions to ensure that the member does not sell, distribute, or provide a firearm-related product, as defined, to a downstream distributor or retailer of firearm-related products who fails to establish, implement, and enforce reasonable controls, and adhere to specified laws pertaining to unfair methods of competition, unfair or deceptive acts or practices, or false advertising.
The Bill would require that: (1) firearm industry members “establish, implement, and enforce reasonable controls”; (2) take “reasonable precautions to ensure” their products are not sold to downstream distributors/retailers who fail to establish such “reasonable controls”; and (3) prohibit the sale of “a firearm-related product” that is “abnormally dangerous and likely to create an unreasonable risk of harm to the public . . .” The third prong of the Bill is intended to ban “assault weapons” by declaring that a firearm is abnormally dangerous if its “features render the product most suitable for assaultive purposes instead of lawful self-defense, hunting, or other legitimate sport and recreational activities.”
AB1594 allows for civil actions to be brought by individuals who have allegedly suffered harm in California caused by a firearm industry member whose conduct allegedly violates the law, as well as permitting actions to be brought by the Attorney General or counsel for any California municipality. Explicitly demonstrating that the purpose of the Bill is to circumvent the PLCAA, it states that “an intervening act by a third party, including, but not limited to, criminal misuse of a firearm-related product, shall not preclude a firearm industry member from liability under this section.” This language directly contravenes the purpose behind the PLCAA.
The Bill now heads to the California State Senate, where it is expected to pass given the Democratic majority. Governor Gavin Newsome is expected to sign the Bill if it reaches his desk. If passed, the Bill would take effect on July 1, 2023. Members of the firearm industry are likely to challenge the constitutionality of the Bill, as they did with the law passed in New York.
Renzulli Law Firm, LLP will continue to monitor new and developing firearms legislation around the county. If you have any questions concerning firearms related legislation, please contact John F. Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli.