San Jose Makes Landmark Bid to Address Gun Violence Through Fees, Insurance
By Nicole Wells | Tuesday, 25 January 2022 07:32 PM
The city of San Jose, California, is looking to address gun violence by requiring all gun owners to pay a fee and carry liability insurance, CNN reported.
The City Council is expected to vote Tuesday on the ordinance, which aims to both offer incentives for safe behavior and ease the financial burden of gun violence on taxpayers.
''Certainly, the Second Amendment protects every citizen's right to own a gun,'' Mayor Sam Liccardo said Monday at a news conference. ''It does not require taxpayers to subsidize that right.''
The mayor, a Democrat, estimated that San Jose residents incur about $442 million in gun-related costs each year, and compared the plan to car insurance mandates, which he credits with significantly reducing deaths resulting from automobile crashes.
If approved Tuesday and on second reading on Feb. 8, the ordinance would go into effect Aug. 8.
Gun owners would be charged a $25 annual fee, which would be directed to a nonprofit set up to distribute funds to gun crime prevention and gun violence victims. The measure would also require that gun owners obtain liability insurance to cover damage caused by their weapon.
Safe behavior would be rewarded with lower premiums for those with gun safes and trigger locks and those who complete gun safety classes, according to CNN.
Liccardo said that police officers would be tasked with enforcement and would ask for proof of insurance, as they do with car insurance during traffic stops.
While law enforcement and those with concealed-carry permits would be exempt, pushback from gun rights groups is expected, the mayor said.
In July, the National Foundation for Gun Rights sent a cease-and-desist letter to Liccardo and the council’s 10 members informing them it intends to file suit if the ordinance is passed.
''We've opposed this ordinance every step of the way and we will see this through to the end,'' Dudley Brown, president of the National Association for Gun Rights and executive director of the National Foundation for Gun Rights, told CNN in a statement.
''If the San Jose City Council actually votes to impose this ridiculous tax on the Constitutional right to gun ownership, our message is clear and simple: see you in court,'' he said.
The 2019 festival shooting in nearby Gilroy, California, and last year’s mass shooting at a public transit facility in his city prompted Liccardo to push for the proposed ordinance.
The mayor’s spokesperson said the city has found a law firm that would represent it on the issue at no charge.