City lawmakers in San Jose, Calif., took a preliminary vote Tuesday to require gun owners to carry liability insurance and pay an annual fee, a step toward adopting what the mayor said is the first measure of its kind in the United States aiming to reduce the risk of gun harm by incentivizing safer behavior.
The San Jose City Council overwhelmingly approved the Gun Harm Reduction Ordinances, despite opposition from gun owners who say the law would violate their Second Amendment rights. The push for liability insurance and an annual fee was introduced by San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo (D) after a May 2021 shooting at a light-rail facility that killed nine people and the gunman, who took his own life.
The city council decided in a 10-to-1 vote that gun owners would be required to purchase liability insurance through their homeowner’s or renter’s insurance so that the plan would cover everyone in their household. Lawmakers also voted, 8 to 3, for gun owners to pay an annual fee of about $25 that would go toward a nonprofit organization focusing on gun violence prevention programs in San Jose.
The ordinance must be approved next month before it can take effect by August.
Before the vote, Liccardo estimated that city residents incur about $442 million of annual gun-related costs, including “private financial costs to individuals and families,” and that gun violence costs San Jose taxpayers $40 million a year in emergency response services.
“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,” Liccardo said in a news release. “Thank you to my council colleagues who continue to show their commitment to reducing gun violence and its devastation in our community.”
San Jose is the first city to pass such a measure, according to Brady United, a national nonprofit organization that advocates against gun violence. Gun owners and gun rights groups have promised to sue if the measure becomes law.