This Silicon Valley town just voted to institute the nation’s first gun ownership requirements

By Cheri Mossburg and Amir Vera, CNN

The San Jose City Council voted Tuesday night to pass the nation’s first ordinance requiring most gun owners to pay fees and carry liability insurance.

Silicon Valley city ordinance aims to reduce the risk of firearm injury encouraging safer behavior and relieving taxpayers of the financial burden of gun violence.

The board split the vote into two parts: the first approving the bulk of the bill, including the insurance provisions, and the second approving the fee provisions. The insurance vote passed 10-1 while the fees vote passed 8-3.

The ordinance must be approved next month in the final reading to come into force in August.

Before the vote, Democrats Mayor Sam Liccardo estimated that San Jose residents incur approximately $442 million in gun-related costs each year. “Certainly, the Second Amendment protects the right of every citizen to own a firearm. It does not require taxpayers to subsidize this right,” Liccardo said Monday at a press conference.

Mass shootings prompted Liccardo to push charges and insurance measures – first after 2019 murders at a festival near Gilroy, Californiathen after last year’s deadly siege to the public transport service of his city. The mayor compared the plan to car insurance mandateswhich he attributes to the dramatic reduction in road deaths.

The San Jose City Council, after the mass shooting in June, unanimously approved the drafting of the ordinance, said Mayor’s spokeswoman Rachel Davis Monday in a press release.

Only 52% of Americans questioned at the end of 2021 said ‘laws covering gun sales’ should be tougher, lowest number Gallup has measured on the issue since 2014. In the meantime, there is a direct link correlation in states with weaker gun laws and higher rates of gun deaths, including homicides, suicides and accidental murders, a study released Thursday by Everytown for Gun Safety find.

Tuesday’s vote followed hours of debate and public comment on the issue. Critics have argued that the ordinance punishes law-abiding gun owners and does not do enough to address the root causes of gun violence. A speaker told council during the public comment session: ‘You can’t tax a constitutional right’ and urged them to focus instead on enforcing current laws, hiring more police and funding mental health services.

One supporter told the council that the ordinance “will help protect our community from preventable gun deaths”, while another urged them to approve the measure, saying: “In the near future it will be very obvious that it was an obvious thing to do and we will wonder why we didn’t do it sooner.

A gun advocacy group has threatened to press charges

Under the San Jose measure, gun owners would be charged an annual fee of $25 paid to a nonprofit organization created to distribute funds to gun crime prevention and victims of crime. armed violence. The measure would also require gun owners to purchase liability insurance that would cover damage caused by their gun.

The order states that those who fail to comply are subject to fines and could have firearms confiscated “subject to a due process hearing”.

Lower bounties for those with completed gun safes, trigger locks and gun safety courses should incentivize safer behavior.

As far as law enforcement goes, police coming across gun owners would ask for proof of insurance, much like they do with car insurance at traffic stops, Liccardo explained.

While some would be exempt, including those in law enforcement, those with concealed carry permits and those for whom fees would be a financial burden, pushback is expected, the mayor acknowledged.

“We have opposed this order every step of the way and we will do so all the way,” Dudley Brown, president of the National Association for Gun Rights and executive director of the National Foundation for Gun Rights, told CNN in a statement. a statement. before the vote.

“If the San Jose City Council actually votes to impose this ridiculous tax on the constitutional right to own guns, our message is clear and simple: go to court,” Brown said.

The National Foundation for Gun Rights sent a cease-and-desist letter to Liccardo and the 10 council members in July saying it intended to sue as soon as the ordinance passes. . The group was responding to a June 29 council action in which “you voted unanimously for the city attorney to research and draft an ordinance that would impose mandatory fees on gun owners and compel them to purchase firearms liability insurance,” the letter reads.

San Jose has identified a law firm that will represent the city on the matter at no cost, the mayor’s spokesperson said.

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CNN’s Andy Rose and Chris Boyette contributed to this report.

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