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San Jose Passes Law Mandating Gun Insurance, Critics Question Constitutionality

Jonathan loves talking politics, economics and philosophy. He carries unique perspectives on everything making him a rather odd mix of liberal-conservative with a streak of independent Austrian thought.
Published: January 27, 2022
Gun owners in San Jose might soon have to insure their firearms.
Gun owners in San Jose might soon have to insure their firearms. (Image: Brett_Hondow via Pixabay)

On Jan. 25, the San Jose City Council voted to approve a measure that will require gun owners to have insurance for their firearms to cover any damages caused by the guns. Gun owners will also be required to pay an annual fee of $25 that will be used to counter gun violence and provide funds to victims of such violence.

“We have seen how insurance has reduced auto fatalities over several decades, for example, by incentivizing safer driving and the purchase of cars equipped with airbags and antilock brakes… Similarly, gun liability insurance available today on the market can adjust premiums to encourage gun owners to use gun safes, install trigger-locks, and take gun safety classes,” Democratic Mayor Sam Liccardo said before the vote. He believes that taxpayers in San Jose spend $442 million every year on gun-related costs.

After the vote, the mayor thanked his council colleagues “who continue to show their commitment to reducing gun violence.” The new measures will help build up a “constitutionally compliant path” to limit “unnecessary suffering” among community members, he added. The insurance proposal was passed with a vote of 10-1 while the annual fee of $25 was approved by a vote of 8-3. The ordinance needs one more approval next month, after which it is expected to come into effect in August. 

The votes were cast after a heated debate. Individuals against the new gun regulations stated that it won’t solve gun violence and will only end up punishing law-abiding gun owners. One member pointed out that no one can tax a constitutional right and asked lawmakers to focus their efforts on enforcing existing laws.

“We’ve opposed this ordinance every step of the way and we will see this through to the end… 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,” Dudley Brown told CNN prior to the vote. Brown is the president of the National Association for Gun Rights and executive director of the National Foundation for Gun Rights. 

Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, threatened a lawsuit once the law comes into effect. Paredes said the requirement is “totally unconstitutional in any configuration.”

“We have freedom of religion, you can’t tax religion. We have freedom of association, we can gather together and we can’t be taxed… The same is true with the Second Amendment. You can’t put preconditions on it,” Paredes stated.

San Diego County supervisors voted to formally adopt an ordinance that will ban the creation or distribution of “ghost guns” as well as mandate the safe storage of firearms. The vote, which passed 3-2, was held on Jan. 25. 

Ghost guns refer to firearms that do not have serial numbers necessary to identify them. Such guns are usually made up of homemade components. The ordinance prohibits 3D printing of firearms or related components and updates definitions of firearms to include ghost guns as well as their parts.