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San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo Renews Calls For Mandatory Insurance, Annual Fees For Gun Owners Following VTA Shooting

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – In the wake of the VTA mass shooting, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo has reintroduced his proposal for mandatory gun owners' insurance and an annual gun fee, in addition to other provisions.

"With council approval San Jose would become the first city in the United States to require every gun owner to have liability insurance coverage for their firearms. Second, San Jose would become the first U.S. city to require gun owners to pay a fee to compensate taxpayers for the public cost of responding to gun violence," Liccardo at the makeshift memorial at City Hall that honors the nine fallen VTA workers who were shot and killed at the light rail yard on May 26.

Liccardo first floated the idea of gun insurance following the Gilroy Garlic Festival mass shooting in 2019, where a gunman killed three people and wounded 17 others before ending his life.

The mayor said the insurance would be "little to no extra cost" for some owners, since they would already have it as part of their homeowners policy.

"And that way we can ensure that victims are compensated where there's an insurable event. And of course, insurance companies will help us make gun possession safer," said Liccardo.

As for the proposed annual gun fee, the mayor is convening a team of experts to calculate the cost to San Jose taxpayers. In a written statement, the mayor's office said gun violence in 2018 directly cost California's taxpayers $1.4 billion.

"We are cognizant, as the Second Amendment dictates, so that we will not be imposing fees that are so great as to be prohibitive to ownership. We want a fee that will compensate taxpayers for the cost of everything from emergency rooms to police response," the mayor said.

Some of the other proposals:

Ghost Guns: San Jose would implement an ordinance to tighten loopholes in state law

Video and audio recording of gun purchases: to reduce "straw purchases" where one party buys a firearm for another.

Gun Violence Restraining Orders: Public education campaign, and improved law enforcement training, and sponsoring state legislation

"Looking Out for One Another": Create a public campaign for community-based, crowd-sourced reporting of implied or explicit threats of violence

Sam Paredes, Executive Director of Gun Owners of California, is forming a coalition of gun rights advocates to mount a legal challenge, if the city council passes ordinances for mandatory insurance and annual fees.

"I strongly believe that Mayor Sam Liccardo is trying to do things he has no authority to do," said Paredes.

California's longstanding pre-emption laws prevent the hundreds of local governments from passing a patchwork quilt of differing gun laws, according to Paredes.

"Without that, various communities could sponsor their own laws governing firearms acquisition, sales, use and storage, and all of that. And law abiding citizens from other parts of the state would be breaking the law just by passing through some of these communities," Paredes told KPIX 5. "That's why no other city has successfully done what the mayor is proposing to do."

"It is, we believe, very strongly unconstitutional for the government to require law-abiding citizens who are doing nothing more than exercising their Second Amendment rights to be required to have insurance, or to be taxed, while they are exercising that enumerated right," Paredes went on to say.

The mayor's gun insurance and fee proposal goes before the Rules Committee next week. If it passes, Liccardo's proposal could move towards consideration before the full San Jose City Council before the end of June.

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