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San Jose Becomes First City In Nation To Require Gun Liability Insurance

SAN JOSE (KPIX) — San Jose became the first city in the nation Tuesday to require all gun owners to obtain liability insurance and pay an annual fee.

"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," said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

The requirements were proposed under one ordinance, but ultimately separated into two different measures when it passed late Tuesday night by city council members.

The Gun Harm Reduction Ordinances was introduced by Liccardo after the Bay Area's deadliest mass shooting took the lives of nine people at the VTA last year in San Jose.

One law would require gun owners to purchase liability insurance through their homeowner's or renter's insurance and would cover everyone in a gun owner's household. The other law would require gun owners to pay an annual fee of about $25. The money would go toward a non-profit organization that would spend the money on gun prevention programs in the community.

Council members listened to more than an hour and a half of public comment, which included a mixed bag of those opposed and for the ordinances.

"My daughter was shot and killed in San Jose so I know firsthand the terrible loss," one supporter told city leaders.

Council members also shared their personal experiences about gun violence.

"I lost one of my childhood friends Michael Rudometkin last year," said Council member Raul Peralez.

"My own family has been touched by gun violence, particularly from the Gilroy shooting," Council member Maya Esparza told the public.

Among the residents who spoke tonight were those who vehemently opposed to the measures.

"People got killed and you got the audacity to come up in here and act like you're going to be the savior of us all," one resident said.

"Vote 'no' on this ridiculous law that'll get shot down in the courts before you waste more of San Jose's money," another said.

Jonathan Fleming, the executive director for the Silicon Valley Public Accountability Foundation, told KPIX5 he believes a constitutional right to bear arms shouldn't come at a cost.

"We do not believe that this proposal will stop gun violence at all," Fleming said. "It wasn't surprising to us that it was passed. The council members seem to ignore the over 1,500 comments in opposition in the public record and the e-comments system, because they're trying to approve a political agenda and advance their political careers."

The Firearms Policy Coalition released a statement saying "insurance requirement for law-abiding, firearm-owning citizens is burdensome, unconstitutional, and prohibited by California law."

The council will hear the ordinance again next month before it goes into effect Aug. 8th.

Mayor Sam Liccardo released a statement on Tuesday night supporting the new law. He thanked his colleagues for their hard work and said:

"I am deeply grateful also to our advocacy and legal partners with Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP, EveryTown, Moms Demand Action, SAFE, the Gifford Law Alliance and many others who work tirelessly to help us craft a constitutionally compliant path to mitigate the unnecessary suffering from gun harm in our community. I look forward to supporting the efforts of others to replicate these initiatives across the nation."

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