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Judge Says California Can't Do to Guns What Texas Did to Abortion

California Democrats trolled Texas Republicans by using the same bounty hunter mechanism in a gun control bill that Texas used to ban abortion.

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R)
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R)
Photo: Getty (Getty Images)

By now, you’re probably familiar with the Texas bounty hunter abortion ban that shredded access in the state months before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The bill, SB 8, allowed private citizens to sue anyone for aiding or abetting an abortion done after six weeks of pregnancy. But since the state doesn’t enforce the law, there was basically no one to sue and block it from taking effect. But abortion providers were worried about costly and time-consuming lawsuits, so they halted care on their own.

Earlier this year, California decided to protect its residents—and troll Texas—by using the bounty hunter mechanism to ban the sale of assault weapons, as well as the sale of any gun to someone under the age of 21. And Senate Bill 1327 had a unique provision that if a court struck down the Texas law, California’s law would be automatically repealed the following year.

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) was explicit about using the same language as Texas lawmakers used. “If they are going to use this framework to put women’s lives at risk, we are going to use it to save people’s lives here in the state of California,” he said at a July press conference after he signed the bill.

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Gun rights groups unsurprisingly sued the state, claiming the law was unconstitutional. But this time a federal district judge, Roger Benitez, took the case and struck the law down on Monday.

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But Newsom kept the bit going. In a statement on Monday, he said he wanted to thank Benitez because the ruling proves Newsom’s point. “We have been saying all along that Texas’ anti-abortion law is outrageous. Judge Benitez just confirmed it is also unconstitutional. The provision in California’s law that he struck down is a replica of what Texas did, and his explanation of why this part of SB 1327 unfairly blocks access to the courts applies equally to Texas’ SB 8. There is no longer any doubt that Texas’ cruel anti-abortion law should also be struck down.”

I mean, good luck getting a Texas court—or the Supreme Court for that matter—to agree with that logic. And when Roe was overturned, a separate trigger ban took effect in Texas that totally bans abortion, no private lawsuits needed. Even if a judge said SB 8 was toast, clinics couldn’t re-open.

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There were detractors of Newsom’s effort from the start. ACLU California Action wrote in a May letter to the bill sponsors:

“There is no way to ‘take advantage of the flawed logic’ of the Texas law. No worthy motive and no permissible goal can justify such a radical and dangerous assault on our constitutional structure. Replicating the reprehensible Texas model only serves to legitimize and promote it, as evidenced by the copycat measures already enacted in some states, with many more pending around the country.”

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The sad reality is that trying to give conservatives a taste of their own medicine won’t do much to help abortion seekers.