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Gun owners in California city will be required to pay duty

The City Council of San Jose, California, voted to pass the nation's first ordinance requiring most gun owners to pay duty and purchase insurance to protect taxpayers from the financial burden of gun violence. Writes about it CNN.

Photo: Shutterstock

The city council split the vote into two parts: the first approved the main part of the proposal, including the provisions on insurance, and the second approved the provisions on the fee. The vote on insurance passed with a score of 10:1, and the vote on duty - 8:3.

The resolution should be approved next month in its final reading and enter into force in August. Gun rights advocates have threatened to take legal action to block the measure if it becomes law.

Ahead of the vote, Democratic Mayor Sam Licciardo estimated that San Jose residents incur about $442 million in gun-related spending each year.

“Of course, the Second Amendment protects the right of every citizen to own a gun. But it does not require taxpayers to subsidize this right,” Liccardo said.

The mass shootings have prompted Licciardo to promote toll and insurance initiatives, first after the 2019 murders at a festival in nearby Gilroy, Calif., and then after last year's deadly public transport shooting in the city.

The mayor compared the plan to auto insurance regulations, which he says have significantly reduced the number of road traffic deaths.

The city council unanimously approved the draft ordinance after a mass shooting in June, said Rachel Davis, a spokeswoman for the mayor.

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Just 52% of Americans polled at the end of 2021 said "laws governing the sale of firearms" should be stricter. This is the lowest figure on this issue since 2014.

There is a direct correlation in states with weaker gun laws and higher rates of gun deaths, including homicides, suicides, and accidental homicides.

The vote followed many hours of debate and public comment on the issue. Critics have argued that the ruling punishes law-abiding gun owners and does not do enough to address the root causes of gun violence.

One speaker told the council during a public comment, "You can't tax a constitutional right." He urged lawmakers to instead focus on enforcing existing laws, hiring more police officers and funding mental health services.

A proponent of the project told the council that the ordinance "will help protect our community from preventable deaths from firearms," ​​while another urged members to approve the measure, stating, "It will become abundantly clear in the near future that this was the case." And we'll wonder why we didn't do it sooner."

Gun rights group threatens to sue

Under the San Jose measure, gun owners will be charged a $25 annual fee to a non-profit organization established to distribute gun crime prevention funds to victims of gun violence. This measure will require gun owners to obtain liability insurance that will cover damage caused by their guns.

People who do not follow the rules will be fined and may have their firearms confiscated "subject to due process."

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As far as enforcement is concerned, cops confronting gun owners will ask for proof of insurance, just as they do with car insurance.

Although some will be exempt from the fee, including law enforcement officers - those who have a concealed carry permit and those for whom the fee will be a financial burden. But, the mayor admitted, resistance is expected.

“We have opposed this ruling at every turn and will see it through,” said Dudley Brown, president of the National Gun Rights Association and executive director of the National Gun Rights Foundation.

“If the San Jose City Council does vote to impose this ridiculous tax on constitutional gun ownership, our message is clear and simple: See you in court,” Brown said.

The National Gun Rights Foundation sent a cease and desist letter to Liccardo and 10 council members in July, saying it intends to file a lawsuit once the ruling is passed.

The group was responding to the council's action on June 29, in which "you voted unanimously to have the City Attorney conduct a study and develop an ordinance that would impose a mandatory duty on gun owners and require them to purchase gun liability insurance," reads the letter.

A spokesman for the mayor said that San Jose has identified a law firm that will represent the city for free in this matter.

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