California City Institutes First Gun Ownership Requirements

A city in California became the first in the country to require most gun owners to pay a fee and carry liability insurance. 

The city council for San Jose, California, voted on Tuesday night to adopt the first-in-the-nation ordinance. They hope that it will reduce the risk of gun harm because it will incentivize safer behavior, and it will also ease taxpayers of the financial burden that comes along with gun violence. 

The vote was split into two parts. The first looked at approving the bulk of the proposal. This included the provisions aimed at insurance. The second part focused on approving the fees for gun owners. Both passed, with the first passing 10-1, and the second passing 8-3. 

A final reading must take place at which the ordinance can be fully approved. It is likely to come into effect in August. 

Gun advocates have threatened to sue the council in order to block the measures if they are to become law later this year. 

The city’s mayor, Mayor Sam Liccardo, said that residents of San Jose are burdened with approximately $442 million in gun-related costs every year. Liccardo said that while the Second Amendment protects citizens’ rights to own a gun, it does not force taxpayers to be shouldered with the burden of subsidizing that right.

Liccardo said that the plan is comparable to mandates for car insurance. 

The initiative was spurred by recent mass shootings. Last year, there was a deadly siege at a public transit facility in San Jose, during which a transit worker killed nine people and then himself at a rail yard. In 2019 neighboring city Gilroy, California, a gunman opened fire at a local festival, killing three, including a 6-year-old and a 13-year-old, and wounding more than a dozen. 

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