San Jose could be first to require gun liability insurance

(AP) – Gun owners would be required to obtain liability insurance in the city of San Jose and pay a fee that officials say would be the first of its kind in the United States, following a trend by other Democratic-run cities that have requested it Curbing violence through stricter rules.

The city council is expected to vote on the plan on Tuesday.

“San Jose has an opportunity to become a model for the rest of the nation to invest in proven strategies to reduce gun violence, domestic violence and suicide, and the many other preventable harms from firearms in our communities,” the mayor of San said Jose, Sam Liccardo held a press conference on Monday.

Other similar laws have been proposed, but San Jose would be the first city in the country to pass one, according to Brady United, a national nonprofit that works to end gun violence.

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

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

Liability insurance would, under the regulation, cover loss or damage resulting from negligent or accidental use of the firearm, including death, personal injury or property damage. If a gun is stolen or lost, the owner of the gun is liable until the theft or loss is reported to authorities.

The requirement does not apply to current and retired law enforcement officers or those licensed to carry concealed weapons.

The $25 fee will be collected by an unnamed non-profit organization to be used for firearm safety education and training, suicide prevention, domestic violence and mental health services.

Those who do not insure their guns face unspecified fines.

Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, said his group will sue if the proposal goes into effect, calling it “completely unconstitutional in every configuration.”

“We have freedom of religion, you can’t tax religion. We have freedom of association, we can assemble and we cannot be taxed,” he said. “The same goes for the second amendment. You can’t set any preconditions there.”

Liccardo said gun violence costs San Jose taxpayers $40 million annually in emergency services.

“The Second Amendment protects the right of every citizen to own and possess a gun. It doesn’t require taxpayers to subsidize that right,” Liccardo said. He said some lawyers have already offered to defend the city for free.

However, the proposal fails to address the massive problem of illegally obtained weapons being stolen or bought without a background check.

Nationwide, more and more violent crimes are also being attributed to “ghost guns,” untraceable firearms made from homemade kits that can be assembled in minutes.

In 2019, ghost guns were linked to a fraction of gun-related deaths in San Francisco, but the following year nearly 50% of guns seized in homicides were ghost guns, said San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin. In Los Angeles, the police department said the number of ghost guns seized has increased by about 400% since 2017.

The San Jose Police Department could not say how many of the more than 200 gunshot deaths and injuries were acquired illegally.

Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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