San Jose approves forced liability insurance for gun owners

San Jose approves forced liability insurance for gun owners
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

They’ve been threatening to do this for a while, but now the San Jose, California City Council has made good on their threats. They have taken the first step in attempting to impose an annual fee on all legal gun owners and a requirement that they carry liability insurance for any “damage caused by their weapon.” If this sounds blatantly unconstitutional to you, rest assured that you’re not alone. The justifications being put forward for this scheme are paper-thin and it should make for an interesting challenge before a judge. And you can bet that’s what’s going to happen sooner rather than later. When the bill was announced, the president of the National Association for Gun Rights had a very terse response for Mayor Sam Liccardo and the City Council: “We’ll see you in court.”

On Tuesday, San Jose, California, became the first city in the United States to approve a law requiring all gun owners to pay a fee and carry liability insurance.

“The Silicon Valley city’s council split the vote into two parts: the first approving the bulk of the proposal, 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 at its final reading in order to take effect in August,” CNN reported.

“Under San Jose’s proposed law, gun owners would be charged an annual $25 fee directed to a nonprofit set up to distribute funds to gun crime prevention and to victims of gun violence. The measure also would require gun owners to obtain liability insurance that would cover damage caused by their weapon,” CNN added.

As noted, this bill is not officially passing into law yet. It will require a final reading and another vote in February, but nobody expects the outcome to be any different.

This is obviously nothing other than a thinly disguised direct tax on those exercising their constitutional rights. Imposing a fee that is separate from any other established taxes and fees associated with normal purchases for the purpose of discouraging gun ownership will not hold up well under judicial scrutiny. Also, basing such a system on the practice of discriminating against one segment of the population solely on the basis of legal products that they choose to own should be a non-starter.

Mayor Liccardo, one of the crazier of the leftists to manage to be elected to office even by California standards, published an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times recently defending this legislation. In it, he demonstrates that he knows full well the challenges this bill will immediately face and tries to explain why their “solution” will be found constitutional. It didn’t go well.

He defends the idea of mandatory liability insurance by saying that such a policy will “better compensate unintentional shooting victims and their families for medical and related expenses.” He also claims that insurance can “incentivize safer gun ownership.” This is all malarkey. Trying to establish some new fund to cover medical expenses that will only be available to people suffering from one specific type of medical issue (being shot) and funding it through a privately managed insurance fund is simply outside the municipal government’s power. It’s also insane.

In response to the charge that citizens shouldn’t be forced to pay a fee to exercise their constitutional rights, Liccardo says, “the 2nd Amendment protects the rights of citizens to own guns, but it doesn’t require the public to subsidize gun ownership.” Did anyone even make an effort to proofread this for him? Since when is the public “subsidizing gun ownership” by not charging an annual fee to own a legally purchased product?

Finally, Liccardo actually tries (emphasis on “tries”) to address one of the most obvious complaints about any sort of gun rights restrictions or gun confiscation schemes. Criminals are not going to pay these fees or buy this insurance. To this, the Mayor says, “Critics say that criminals won’t obey insurance or fee mandates — and they are right. But these ordinances create a legal mandate that gives police the means for at least the temporary forfeiture of guns from dangerous law-breakers.”

That sounds like it was written by a drunken parrot randomly tapping at a keyboard. If the police become aware of any “dangerous lawbreakers” with firearms, they are already obligated to take them away permanently because felons can’t legally own guns. What he’s probably hinting at is the possibility that people who choose not to purchase this insurance or pay the fee can be classified as “dangerous lawbreakers” and the police will be able to seize their firearms. And that’s probably what the real intent behind this bill has been from the beginning.

As was already said, see you in court, pal. This pile of hot garbage should go down in flames faster than one of Elon Musks’ new starships.

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