Bill would allow prosecution for marketing firearms to children

The man at the gun show lifted a 2.2-pound rifle and pulled the stock out with an audible “shock”, presenting it to the host of the YouTube segment.

“When we set out to produce a small firearm for kids in an AR-looking package, we were pretty sure we had to have a ‘wow factor’ in the area of ​​safety,” said Eric Schmid , owner of Wee 1 Tactical, in a video uploaded in January.

What Utah-based Wee 1 Tactical produced was a smaller model of the AR-15, called the JR-15. Schmid was in Las Vegas in January to promote the smallest gun, which the company promises will look just like mom and dad’s gun.

Schmid demonstrated a safety pin intended to keep the gun’s trigger locked. He and the host noted that this would likely prevent young children from using a gun without their parents present.

“It takes a lot of tension to be able to get that out,” host Barret Kendrick said.

“Your 12-year-olds are going to unlock it very quickly,” Schmid replied.

A bill passed by the Assembly on Thursday night would make the marketing of firearms to children and those not legally entitled to own them a civil liability. AB 1594 would allow lawsuits against gun manufacturers based on their marketing, one of the few exemptions to a federal ban on such lawsuits. The bill is now in the hands of the Senate.

Introduced by San Francisco Democrat Phil Ting, the bill seeks to ensure that gun makers cannot oppose marketing lawsuits in state court – an argument that Smith & Wesson has advanced in a San Diego court last year.

The proposal is similar to a bill passed last year in New York — a bill that survived a legal challenge by gun rights advocates in federal court on Wednesday.

“Unfortunately, it seems like not a day goes by until there is another tragic mass shooting,” Ting said. “We have guns in the hands of the wrong people and we have an industry that takes no responsibility for empowering killers in our community.”

The bill alleges that some gun manufacturers are marketing and selling “increasingly dangerous new products,” from ghost guns to bump stocks, giving them an unfair market advantage over “more dangerous competitors.” responsible”. If passed, the bill would allow the Justice Department, county attorneys, city attorneys and the public to continue these practices.

Among the practices singled out in the bill are:

  • Manufacturers that produce firearms with characteristics “more suitable for assault purposes” rather than for hunting or self-defense.
  • Weapons designed, sold or marketed in a way that “predictably promotes” their conversion into an illegal weapon, such as converting a semi-automatic weapon into a fully automatic weapon.
  • Weapons designed, sold or marketed to children or persons who are legally prohibited from possessing firearms.

The bill is part of a larger wave of more than a dozen gun control laws proposed by California Democrats ahead of today’s deadline to move the bills from their original house.

On Wednesday, a day after a man killed at least 21 people with an AR-15 in a shooting at a Texas elementary school, Governor Gavin Newsom highlighted some gun marketing tactics during a a press conference rallying support for AB 1594 and other gun controls. measures.

“You have people making and marketing an AR-15 for babies. For babies,” Newsom said. “And their logo is a pacifier with the AR-15 baby. They are extremists. You have to call them. »

Newsom seemed to be talking about the logo for the JR-15 and the Wee 1 Tactical, which is two skulls with a target in one eye and a pacifier in each mouth. One skull has a mohawk and the other has pigtails.

Lawsuits against gun manufacturers are prohibited by the Lawful Arms Trade Protection Act, a 2005 law that the NRA said was at the time “the most significant pro-gun legislation in twenty year”.

Part of a WEE1 Tactical press release.

President Joe Biden has said repealing the law is among his administration’s top priorities, though his Justice Department continues to defend the legislation in court.

Federal law has allowed six exceptions in which lawsuits are permitted against gun manufacturers. One of them is for manufacturers who violate state or federal laws governing the marketing or sale of firearms.

The business exception to the law allowed parents of children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre in 2012 to successfully sue Remington Arms last year. A state trial in San Diego after a 2019 shooting was allowed to continue last year on the same basis.

Survivors of the San Diego-area synagogue shooting argued that Smith & Wesson used marketing “that appealed to impulsive young men with military complexes who were particularly likely to be drawn to the weapons’ unique ability to type AR-15”.

Smith & Wesson responded that federal law protected them from such lawsuits, but a San Diego County Superior Court judge disagreed, citing the marketing exception.

Michael Schwartz, executive director of San Diego County Gun Owners, said the bill and others introduced by Democrats this session pose a threat to gun ownership rights across the country. California.

“If fully realized and implemented, this is a huge threat to gun rights,” Schwartz said. “There is no way to prevent anyone from using a product illegally. But you wouldn’t sue Ford for someone who drank and drove.

As for the JR-15, singled out by Newsom, Schwartz said the marketing was still aimed at people who can buy the guns, parents. And, he said, previous laws regulating the marketing of age-restricted products like tobacco do not apply to firearms.

“I don’t know what the perceived fear is, but I’m not afraid of kids getting addicted to an AR-15,” Schwartz said. “It’s the most popular long gun in the United States because it works in all kinds of situations.”

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