SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — Attorneys filed a lawsuit against San Jose claiming the city’s new gun owner ordinance violates its residents’ Second Amendment rights.
Attorneys representing the Firearms Policy Coalition filed the complaint, Glass vs. City of San Jose, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California this week.
San Jose is the first city in the nation to require gun owners to pay a yearly fee and carry liability insurance.
The lawsuit challenges the legality of San Jose’s ordinance. FPC attorneys argued that the mandate violates both the First and Second Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
San Jose’s gun owner insurance requirement is a “demonstrable attack” on Americans’ right to keep and bear arms, said FPC vice president of programs Adam Kraut.
“Governments cannot run roughshod over the constitutional rights of their people simply because they do not care for the rights they choose to exercise,” Kraut said.
FPC’s lawsuit seeks a judgment declaring the ordinance unconstitutional to prevent the city from enforcing it.
FPC attorneys asserted that the ordinance will not improve public safety, nor reduce gun violence.
“It will only burden those who already follow all firearm laws. Even city officials admit that, ‘of course, criminals won’t obey insurance or fee mandates,'” the lawsuit states.
“It is unfathomable to think that the elected officials of San Jose believed such an ordinance would survive a constitutional challenge, particularly when they admit that criminals will not obey the mandates contained within, leaving only the peaceable people of San Jose to be burdened by the ineptness of its government,” Kraut said.
The lawsuit also argues that the city’s annual fee violates the First Amendment.
“The ordinance directs the City Manager to designate a nonprofit organization that will spend firearm owners’ money on ‘programs and initiatives’ to ‘mitigate’ the supposed ‘risk’ of the ‘possession of firearms…’ The fee provision thus forces firearm owners to associate with an organization of the city’s choosing,” the lawsuit states.
Mayor Sam Liccardo was a strong advocate for his city’s gun owner ordinance.
“While the Second Amendment protects the right to bear arms, it does not require taxpayers to subsidize gun ownership. We won’t magically end gun violence, but we will stop paying for it. We can also better care for its victims, and reduce gun-related injuries and death through sensible interventions,” Liccardo said.
Over the past five years, gun ownership increased 55.3 percent, leading to an estimated 50,000 – 55,000 households in San Jose that own guns.
According to city leaders, possessing a gun at home doubles the risk that family members will become a victim of homicide, and triples the risk of suicide.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs include Bradley A. Benbrook and Stephen M. Duvernay of Benbrook Law Group, and David H. Thompson, Peter A. Patterson, and Joseph O. Masterman of Cooper & Kirk, PLLC.
Firearms Policy Coalition said its organization’s goal is for “maximal human liberty” and to “protect and defend the People’s fundamental rights, fight to advance individual liberty, and restore freedom.”