San Jose mayor proposes ordinance mandating liability insurance for gun owners

Bay Area

SAN JOSE (KRON) – San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo on Monday proposed a “first of its kind” city ordinance in an effort to combat gun violence in the wake of the recent mass shootings.

The ordinance would require all firearm owners in San Jose to carry liability insurance for their weapons, which officials said is the first such requirement in the country.

Gun owners who are unable to purchase liability insurance could pay a fee to “compensate taxpayers for the public costs of firearm violence in America’s tenth largest city.”

“Under current Supreme Court rulings, the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution protects the right to keep and bear arms. However, the Constitution does not require taxpayers to subsidize that individual choice.  The cost of city police and emergency services required to address gun violence should be paid by gun owners, not all taxpayers,” Mayor Liccardo said in a statement.

“We require motorists to carry automobile insurance, and the insurance industry appropriately encourages and rewards safe driver behavior. We tax tobacco consumption both to discourage risky behavior and to make sure non-smokers are not forced to subsidize the substantial public health costs generated by smoking-related illnesses and deaths. These successful public health models inspire a similar “harm reduction” approach for firearms,” Liccardo added.

In addition to an insurance-or-fee mandate, Mayor Liccardo also proposed the following:

  1. Imposing gun and ammunition sales taxes to help fund gun safety classes, gun violence prevention programs, and additional victim assistance services for survivors of gun violence,
  2. Exploring a consent-to-search program for juveniles, which would allow parents to consent to have local law enforcement search a juvenile’s person or their property,
  3. Creating a program that would offer cash rewards to anyone who reports someone who possesses unlawfully-obtained guns or weapons.

Liccardo said this would be one “of many steps” to protect the city from gun violence.

“With this measure, we won’t suddenly end gun violence. But we’re going to stop paying for it,” added Mayor Liccardo, referring to what he calls the “gun violence subsidy” paid by the public for individuals’ gun ownership.

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