San Jose’s gun insurance law not expected to go into effect until 2023 due to litigation
Three lawsuits have been filed since the council passed the law back in January

by Grace Hase | July 9, 2022 

San Jose’s first-in-the-nation gun insurance mandate was supposed to go into effect this fall, but with three pending lawsuits questioning the law’s constitutionality, city officials now expect the controversial ordinance to be delayed until at least 2023.

In January, San Jose became the first city in the U.S. to require its residents to purchase liability insurance for their weapons. The law also mandated a $25 fee to be paid by gun owners to a nonprofit to help cover the cost of gun violence in the city.

But shortly after the San Jose City Council’s historic vote, a lawsuit was filed in federal court by the National Association for Gun Rights and San Jose resident Mark Sikes. Two subsequent lawsuits have been filed since.

The ordinance was supposed to go into effect August 8 with a 30-day window to allow gun owners to purchase insurance. But on July 1, the city manager’s office suspended the implementation for the foreseeable future, according to a recent city memo.

“The landscape is constantly changing on this topic, and litigation may impact both of these,” city spokesperson Carolina Camarena said in an email. “Additionally, the city council directed the city to halt implementation of the gun harm reduction fee until after the legal challenges have been fully resolved.”

Mayor Sam Liccardo, who proposed the liability insurance requirement following a mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in 2019, said in a statement that they “expected litigation in this matter.”

“But pandemic-induced backlogs in the courts mean that we’re not the only litigants eager to move things along,” he continued. “We’ll do our best to push the legal issues to resolution so we can begin to implement this important and groundbreaking safety law.”

In the meantime, the nonprofit that is supposed to collect and distribute the $25 fee is still being formed. Liccardo said “a law firm is ensuring all of the paperwork is properly filed, and several meetings have been had by board members and other participants.”

The nonprofit is expected to distribute the money to suicide-prevention programs, fire-arm safety training and gender-based violence services, according to the law.

But at least one group involved in the litigation is happy to see the city put the ordinance on hold.

In March, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the Silicon Valley Public Accountability Foundation, the Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association and residents James Barry and George Arrington filed a lawsuit in Santa Clara County Superior Court arguing that the fee is a tax that needs two-thirds of voter approval.

Jonathan Fleming, the executive director of the Silicon Valley Public Accountability Foundation, told this news organization that the law “should be litigated to the full extent.”

During litigation, he believes it will become “crystal clear” that the fee is in fact a tax.

“They’re going to have to hopefully apologize to the residents of San Jose for trying to take away their civil liberties,” he said.

Click here to read the article at the web site of East Bay Times.

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