San Jose sued after City Council votes to force gun owners to have liability insurance, pay fee

The mayor said he looks "forward to supporting the efforts of others to replicate these initiatives across the nation."

Updated: January 26, 2022 - 11:27pm

The San Jose City Council voted Tuesday evening to force gun owners to pay a "harm reduction fee" and have liability insurance, and the city is already facing a lawsuit from the National Association for Gun Rights in response. 

Mayor Sam Liccardo (D) celebrated the vote. "Tonight San Jose became the first city in the United States to enact an ordinance to require gun owners to purchase liability insurance, and to invest funds generated from fees paid by gun owners into evidence-based initiatives to reduce gun violence and gun harm," he wrote in a statement.

"Thank you to my council colleagues who continue to show their commitment to reducing gun violence and its devastation in our community," Liccardo said. He also thanked legal partners, including the Bloomberg-funded gun control groups EveryTown and Moms Demand Action, as well as Gifford Law Alliance.

Gun owners will be required to pay $25 every year in addition to city administrative costs, NBC Bay Area reports. Liccardo said the fee will be per household and not per gun. 

Requiring insurance will also raise the price of owning a gun in San Jose. For example, the U.S. Concealed Carry Association offers insurance ranging from $29 to $49 a month. The city cited a Pacific Institute on Research and Evaluation study showing that firearm injuries cost San Jose residents $442 million on average each year.

"I look forward to supporting the efforts of others to replicate these initiatives across the nation," he added.

The ordinance states that the harm reduction fee could go to suicide prevention, domestic violence programs, and other areas, but the city "shall not specifically direct how the monies ... are expended."

The National Foundation for Gun rights initially sent a cease-and-desist letter in July threatening to sue if the measure were passed in San Jose.

The organization calls the city ordnance "unconstitutional" and compares it to a "free speech tax" or a "church attendance tax." 

"If gun grabbers get away with taxing the right to own a gun, every left-leaning local government across the country will quickly follow," the foundation states.

Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jamie was killed in the Parkland school shooting, applauded the measure. "For so many reasons, this law is one that I support and that should be the law across the United Sates [sic]," he said. "This law will save lives and hold those accountable who are irresponsible with their guns."

Not everyone celebrated the move, however. Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was also killed in the Parkland school shooting, voiced his disapproval of the measure.

"San Jose, California has voted to require gun owners to pay a fee and carry liability insurance," he tweeted. "Guess who won't pay the fee and carry liability insurance? Criminals."