The San Jose City Council has unanimously voted to charge an annual “gun owner fee to help cover the cost of gunshot-related police and ambulance response and medical treatment,” according to KNTV News, the local NBC affiliate.
The “yet-to-be-determined” fee for gun owners amounts to a tax on the exercise of a constitutional right, and the Firearms Policy Coalition—a California-based gun rights group—says it is already preparing legal action.
Additionally, gun owners will be required to purchase liability insurance, according to KGO, the local ABC affiliate.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo was quoted by KGO stating, “We’ve got to do more to ensure that burdens are property borne by those who choose to exercise their right to own a gun and to ensure that those fees and insurance requirements will incentivize safer gun ownership.”
KNTV quoted an unidentified citizen opposing the new insurance requirement: “The mandatory gun liability insurance puts a financial burden on a constitutional right.”
According to KNTV, gun owners who do not comply with these new requirements could have their firearms confiscated.
The city will craft an ordinance detailing the new restrictions by September, reports indicate.
Liccardo fell back on the argument that these new requirements are for the children.
“We live in a country with 4.6 million children who live in a home where guns aren’t locked. There’s a lot we can do to be safer,” he said, according to KNTV.
The restrictive new gun control measures are the council’s response to a mass shooting in May at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority railyard in San Jose. Nine people were killed when a VTA employee identified as Samuel J. Cassidy opened fire. He then committed suicide. He used three handguns in the rampage, all of which had been legally purchased, according to the East Bay Times. However, the same article said Cassidy had 32 so-called “high capacity magazines” which are illegal in California, although federal Judge Roget T. Benitez has ruled the magazine law is unconstitutional. That ruling is now under appeal.
The VTA shooting suggests California’s strict gun control laws failed to prevent the crime, and critics have argued those laws failed to prevent other crimes including the Garlic Festival shooting and the Isla Vista rampage killings.
Rachel Michelson, from the Moms Demand Action gun prohibition lobbying organization, was quoted by KGO asserting, “Let’s stop whispering. Let’s start talking about it. We are not going to change anything until we start having conversations with each other.”