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San Jose Approves Nation's 1st Mandatory Gun Liabililty Insurance, Annual Fees

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) -- In a unanimous vote Tuesday night, the San Jose City Council approved first-of-its-kind gun control measures.

The first would requires every gun owner have liability insurance coverage for their firearms. The insurance could not legally cover intentional harm caused by a gun owner.

The second requires gun owners to pay an annual fee to compensate taxpayers for the public cost of responding to gun-related injuries and death, including police and medical services.

San Jose is the first city in the country to pass such measures. The new laws are part of a gun control plan Mayor Sam Liccardo unveiled earlier this month following the mass shooting by a disgruntled Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) employee at a light rail yard in San Jose.

"It's also the case that while the Second Amendment certainly protects the right to own a gun it does not mandate that we subsidize as taxpayers the possession of these guns," said Liccardo during the virtual meeting.

Liccardo said gun liability insurance is akin to car insurance insofar as it encourages responsible gun ownership, storage and use. He said the fees would be modest - potentially between $25-$30.

"We know that crooks aren't going to get insurance. Of course, they're not," Liccardo said. "So, when a police officer responds to a domestic violence call and asks the question that every officer asks which is 'Are there any guns in the home?' at that time the officer can determine if that individual has followed the law to get insurance."

Gun rights advocates said the measures punish law-abiding gun owners and will challenge the city's decision in the courts.They doubt they will make much impact on gun violence and likely run afoul of the Second Amendment.

"We feel it is clearly unconstitutional for the government at any level to charge some sort of a fee before somebody can exercise an enumerated, constitutional right," said Sam Paredes with Gun Owners of California.

Two weeks ago, the city council approved a law requiring retailers to video-record all firearm purchases, becoming the largest city in California with such a rule.


Betty Yu contributed to this report.

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