California City Requires Gun Owners to Buy Liability Insurance

July 7, 2021

San Jose, Calif., officials have passed a new law that requires gun owners to carry liability insurance and pay a fee to cover taxpayers’ costs associated with gun violence.

The law is the first in the U.S. and was unanimously approved by the City Council on Tuesday, a month after a disgruntled San Jose rail yard employee fatally shot nine of his co-workers and then himself at the rail yard, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Mayor Sam Liccardo praised the measures and said gun owners who do not comply with the new rules shouldn’t have guns.

“We won’t magically end gun violence, but we stop paying for it,” Liccardo said in a statement.

The new law is part of a 10-point gun control plan that Liccardo unveiled following the May 26 mass shooting at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority rail yard.

Officials have not decided how much gun owners will be required to pay in fees. They would be used to cover the direct costs of gun violence to city taxpayers for services that include police response, ambulance transport and gunshot-related medical treatment for victims.

The fees would be determined upon completion of a gun harm study from the Pacific Institute on Research and Evaluation, a group that promotes individual and public health, welfare, and safety.

In a preliminary report released ahead of the vote, the institute estimated that gun-related homicides, suicides and other shootings cost San Jose around $63 million annually. A more thorough study is expected to be completed in the fall.

One challenge to enforce the law will be in determining how to administer the new liability insurance and fee requirements.

City officials know how many guns were purchased in San Jose since 2001, Liccardo said, but the city has no gun registry and no way to track gun owners.

Earlier this month, city lawmakers passed a new law requiring all retailers to record video and audio of all firearm purchases. San Jose became the largest California city with such a rule.

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