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Showdown Brews Over Proposed Law Requiring San Jose Gun Owners To Buy Liability Insurance, Pay Annual Fee

SAN JOSE (BCN/KPIX) – San Jose gun owners could be required to purchase liability insurance and pay an annual fee on their weapons under an ordinance lawmakers are expected to approve this week.

The San Jose City Council is scheduled to make a final vote on Tuesday. If the ordinance passes, it would be the first of its kind in the nation. Gun advocates are vowing to fight back.

The city has been revising the ordinance since last summer, after the council voted unanimously to direct staff to study the issue.

Mayor Sam Liccardo was asked if there was enough council support to pass his proposal tomorrow.

"I'm never going to predict whether or not we have the votes," said Liccardo.

At a press event in front of Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence, Liccardo unveiled more details about the insurance and annual fee.

Owners would have to keep proof of insurance, and proof of fee payment with the firearm at all times. The documents must be shown to a police officer upon request. Penalties include impoundment or the weapon, or a fine.

Each household would pay the $25 fee every year, and the fee would cover all firearms within the household. The city estimates there are up to 55,000 households that own a firearm, with an estimated annual revenue of $1.4 million dollars. The fees would be collected by, and distributed to, four separate non-profits that provide services in suicide prevention, mental health, firearms safety training, and domestic violence.

Esther Peralez-Dieckmann, Executive Director of Next Door, urged San Jose gun owners to "stand up" and support the proposal.

"And that funding will be used to offset the damage. There are many organizations working in our community with very limited resources to help the families who are dealing with the aftermath of gun violence," said Peralez-Dieckmann. "We're asking gun owners essentially to give up five commercial cups of coffee a year to pay for the fine."

"We are insulted by that 'five cups of coffee'. I take great insult from the vacuous intellectual ability of the person who would say something like that," said Sam Paredes, Executive Director of Gun Owners of California.

Paredes said multiple pro-gun rights groups are ready to mobilize and begin legal challenges on Wednesday, the day after the council vote.

"Any abridgement of a constitutional right, any chipping away, no matter how small, is the beginning of the downfall of the Constitution and what rights really mean," said Paredes. "They're trying to candy coat it. They're trying to make it work, and look nice and reasonable. But the fact of the matter is, it is still clearly unconstitutional."

Liccardo said the law firm of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, based in Burlingame has offered pro bono legal services. Everytown For Gun Safety and Brady United have also reached out to offer legal expertise.

"We believe there is a legal path, and because there may well be additional state legislation that can help create a clear path for other communities who want to follow San Jose's lead. And I often hear from other mayors who are asking me 'How can we make this happen?' said Liccardo.

"We look upon this measure from San Jose, as an infection that needs to be inoculated and cleaned," said Paredes.

If the ordinance passes, it would take effect in six months. But fees would not be collected until the legal challenges have been resolved.

© Copyright 2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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