San Jose moves to require gun owners to have insurance and pay annual fees

Gun owners in San Jose, Calif., may soon be required to carry liability insurance and pay an annual fee for suicide prevention and other...


Gun owners in San Jose, Calif., may soon be required to carry liability insurance and pay an annual fee for suicide prevention and other safety programs aimed at reducing gun violence.

Members of the San Jose City Council voted overwhelmingly in favor of a gun possession ordinance on Tuesday night. If the measure passes again after a second reading next month, as expected, fees on the roughly 50,000 gun-owning households in the city of more than one million people could come into effect in August.

City officials say the annual ‘harm reduction fee’ of about $25 will go to the cost of nonprofits that would help run programs to reduce forms of gun violence like suicide and violence home, as well as providing firearms safety training, mental health counseling and addiction treatment.

None of the money raised would pay for litigation, political advocacy or lobbying, the order says.

City officials said the insurance requirement and annual harm reduction fee for gun owners would be the first of its kind in the country.

“We are the urban center of Silicon Valley,” Mayor Sam Liccardo said in an interview Wednesday. “And the spirit of Silicon Valley recognizes the importance and imperative of innovation in the face of daunting challenges.”

Imposing fees and taxes on gun owners is not a new concept. A federal tax on firearms and ammunition has been in the books for decades. States that require gun owners to have a license may already charge a fee for filing or renewing these documents. These fees can range from as little as $25 in Texas for retired judges and honorably discharged military veterans at around $340 for a handgun renewal application fee in New York.

“It’s certainly not uncommon to have recurring costs associated with owning and owning firearms,” ​​said Billy Rosen, managing director of state policy and government affairs at Everytown for Gun Safety, which advocates for stricter gun control laws. “But the specific mechanics of that may be unique,” he said. “We’ll be eagerly following to see how it plays out.”

What’s new, San Jose officials say, is making liability insurance mandatory, similar to insurance for motorists, and charging fees to compensate for city services that serve those directly affected by armed violence.

Opponents voiced a range of objections, calling the annual fee and insurance requirement an unfair burden on gun owners, an ineffective tool against gun crime, and of a violation of constitutional rights.

“If left intact,” the National Association for Gun Rights said in a federal trial filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California“the city of San Jose’s ordinance would strike at the very heart of the fundamental constitutional right to own and bear arms and to defend one’s home.”

A spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association, Amy Hunter, called the order “a ridiculous publicity stunt that will have no impact on public safety.” In a statement, Ms Hunter also said liability insurance “will never cover criminal acts, and those who break the law are already accountable through our court system”.

Mr Liccardo acknowledged that “this is often standard cover”, but said making it mandatory would help ensure that all policies cover it.

Liability insurance would cover “loss or damage resulting from any negligent or accidental use” of the firearm, including “death, personal injury or property damage,” the order says.

If a firearm is lost or stolen, the owner of that weapon would also be liable until the loss or theft is reported to the police, according to the order.

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, Liccardo said the ordinance was aimed at reducing preventable forms of firearm injuries. “It’s easy to say that won’t stop a crook who is out to kill someone. Well, he added, I challenge anyone to suddenly, magically create this prescription that will. It does not exist.

Gun violence, particularly in the form of suicide and accidental shock injury, is more common among people who live in a home where a gun is stored, he said.

And San Jose taxpayers — many of whom don’t own guns — are already paying police, hospitals and emergency services to deal with these forms of gun violence, the mayor said. San Jose taxpayers “subsidize gun ownership by $151 per year per gun-owning household,” Liccardo’s office said, citing a study by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation which indicates that the city has spent at least $7.9 million annually to respond to firearm injuries.

So, according to Liccardo, it makes sense to get dedicated funding from gun owners for these municipal services.

“Ironically,” he said Wednesday, “the beneficiaries will be many members of the organizations that will be involved in the city’s lawsuit.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: San Jose moves to require gun owners to have insurance and pay annual fees
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