San Jose, California, Becomes First U.S.City to Require Gun-Owner Insurance

Bloomberg Quicktake: Now published this video item, entitled “San Jose, California, Becomes First U.S.City to Require Gun-Owner Insurance” – below is their description.

A California city voted Tuesday night to require gun owners to carry liability insurance in what’s believed to be the first measure of its kind in the United States.

The San Jose City Council overwhelmingly approved the measure despite opposition from some gun owners who said it would violate their Second Amendment rights.

The council also voted to require thousands of gun owners in the city to pay a small fee, which would be used for firearm safety education and services such as domestic violence prevention and mental health services.

The proposal aims at reducing gun violence in the San Francisco Bay Area city. The late Tuesday vote follows a trend of other Democratic-led cities that have sought to rein in violence through stricter rules.

“This initiative isn’t about taking away anyone’s gun. It’s about deploying a public health approach to reducing gun harm,” San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said.

Other similar laws have been proposed but San Jose has now become the first city in the country to pass one, according to Brady United, a national nonprofit that advocates against gun violence.

The ordinance is part of a broad gun control plan that Liccardo announced following the May 26, 2021 mass shooting at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority rail yard that left nine people dead, including the employee who opened fire on his colleagues then killed himself.

Having liability insurance would encourage people in the 5,500 households in San Jose who legally own at least one registered gun to have gun safes, install trigger locks and take gun safety classes, Liccardo said.

The liability insurance would cover losses or damages resulting from any negligent or accidental use of the firearm, including death, injury, or property damage, according to the ordinance. If a gun is stolen or lost, the owner of the firearm would be considered liable until the theft or loss is reported to authorities.

The requirement won’t apply to current and retired law enforcement officers or those with a license to carry concealed weapons.

The $25 fee will be collected by a yet-to-be-named nonprofit to be used for firearm safety education and training, suicide prevention, domestic violence, and mental health services.

Those who don’t insure their weapons would face unspecified fines.

Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, said his group will sue if the proposal takes effect, calling it “totally unconstitutional in any configuration.”

“There are most definitely plans to challenge this in court. California either affects or infects what happens throughout the country. In this case, we would look at this as an unconstitutional infection that we want to stop here,” Paredes said.

Liccardo said gun violence costs San Jose taxpayers $40 million a year in emergency response services.

Liccardo said some attorneys have already offered to defend the city pro bono.

However the proposal does not address the massive problem of illegally obtained weapons that are stolen or purchased without background checks.

An increasing number of violent crimes nationwide are also being attributed to “ghost guns,” the untraceable firearms made from build-it-yourself kits that can be assembled in minutes.

In 2019, ghost guns were associated with a fraction of gun-related deaths in San Francisco but the following year, nearly 50% of guns recovered in homicide cases were ghost guns, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin said. In Los Angeles, the police department said the number of ghost guns it seized had increased by about 400% since 2017.

The San Jose Police Department could not say how many of the more than 200 gunfire deaths and injuries annually involved firearms obtained illegally.

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