San Jose City Becomes First to Pass Gun Owner Insurance And Fee Law

© REUTERS / BING GUAN / FILE PHOTO: Firearms Unknown as Biden considers legislation restricting "ghost guns\FILE PHOTO: Firearms Unknown as Biden considers legislation restricting "ghost guns\
FILE PHOTO: Firearms Unknown as Biden considers legislation restricting ghost guns\ - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.01.2022
After hours of debating on Tuesday night, the city council of San Jose, California has decided to move forward with a gun safety law requiring gun owners to have liability insurance, as well as paying an annual 25 dollar fee, making San Jose the first city in the United States to approve stricter gun laws.
The new measure, which officials are saying is the first of its kind, has been broken into two mandates. The first is a liability insurance requirement for gun owners, covering losses or damages caused by neglect or accidental use of a firearm. The “damages” would include death, injury, or property damage. If the gun is lost or stolen, the owner of the gun would be liable unless the theft or loss was reported to authorities.
The second mandate would make it so gun owners have to pay an annual fee of 25 dollars. That fee would then be collected by a nonprofit, which is yet to be disclosed, and would pay for firearm safety and training, suicide prevention, domestic violence and mental health services.
The gun insurance will be purchased through homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance, and will cover every person in the gun owner’s household, reported CBS SF Bay Area News. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said those without insurance won’t lose their guns or face any annual charges.
During the city council meeting, council members listened to more than an hour and a half of opposing views towards the mandates, some were vehemently for, and others were against.
“Charging a fee and requiring insurance does not restrain anyone from owning a gun, but it does require gun owners to show responsibility,” said one San Jose resident, who is in favor of the proposal.
Others in San Jose have voiced opposition, saying the law assigns the blame of gun violence to lawful gun owners. Several gun rights groups have threatened to sue, hoping to prevent the law from going into effect. The executive director of Gun Owners of California, Sam Paredes, said his group would sue, deeming the law unconstitutional.
But Margaret Russel, a constitutional law professor at Santa Clara University, is confident the law should go into effect. “Twenty five dollars and liability insurance, and articulated public interest in that the money is actually going to go toward the enormous cost to taxpayers of gun violence, that actually seems like it will pass a legal test to me,” she said to ABC 7 News.
Members of the San Jose City Council include several of those who have lost a friend or have been affected by gun violence. Councilmember Raul Peralez lost a childhood friend last year to gun violence, and Councilmember Maya Esparza also says her family was touched by gun violence, referring to the Gilroy Shooting in Gilroy, CA, which saw 3 people die, including a 6 year-old boy, a 13 year-old girl, and a 25 year-old man.
Mayor Liccardo’s proposal also has support from the San Jose City Council in light of the May 26, 2021 shooting at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority rail yard, when an employee opened fire on their colleagues, killing 8 people.
The mayor said gun violence costs San Jose taxpayers 40 million dollars a year in emergency response services.
Gun laws are a hot button topic for Americans. Even though 90% of Americans agree that there should be some stricter gun laws like universal background checks, the Second Amendment makes it a third rail issue, putting potential progress to a standstill. And while the United States only holds 4.4% of the world’s population, it still accounts for about 43% of the world’s guns, according to a 2007 Small Arms Survey.
Between 2009 and 2018, 1,121 people were shot and killed in a mass shooting, with 836 more shot and wounded.
The Oxford High School shooting, which occurred on November 30, 2021, also saw some unusual lawful effects. The parents of the school shooter were charged with manslaughter, and are currently being held on a $500,000 cash bond. James and Jennifer Crumbley were accused by prosecutors of negligence in regards to gun safety. Prosecutors say they were aware of their son’s mental health issues and fascination with guns, and even refused to take their son home the day of the shooting, even though the school guidance counselors urged them to do so. The son was also arrested and charged with murder and terrorism.
An assessment by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security found that guns involved in 76% of school shootings came from the home of a parent or relative. In half of these, the firearms were easily accessible. It’s highly unusual for parents of a school shooter to be charged with crimes involved in school shootings.
“Our laws haven’t really adapted to the reality of school shootings, and the closest we have are these child access prevention laws,” said Kris Brown, the president of the advocacy group Brady: United Against Gun Violence.
San Jose’s Gun Harm Reduction proposal now needs another approval which it will face at a second reading on February 8th. If it passes, the measures will go into effect on August 8th.
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