Legal gun ownership in San Jose, California is about to get more costly and onerous after the city council passed a measure imposing two unprecedented charges on gun possession in the within the city limits.
Starting later this year, lawful gun owners in San Jose will be required to carry “an owner’s, renter’s, or firearms liability insurance policy…specifically covering loss or damage resulting from any negligent or accidental use” of their firearms.
Gun owners must also pay a “gun damage reduction fee,” an as-yet-undetermined amount that authorities say will be about $25 a year.
City officials say these are necessary measures that will save lives by encouraging responsible gun ownership practices while making gun owners foot the bill for the financial costs of gun ownership. armed violence.
In reality, the new law imposes unnecessary burdens on legitimate gun owners and is unlikely to save taxpayers a single dollar, let alone a single life.
Here are eight major issues with San Jose’s latest gun control push:
1. Almost impossible to apply
The new order does not require gun owners to certify that they have obtained coverage or paid the annual fee.
Unless the city plans to conduct door-to-door compliance checks, it will face a nearly impossible task of ensuring widespread compliance with what is essentially an honor system.
2. Insurance policies do not exist
Currently, the only independent liability insurance for gun owners is self-defense insurance, which covers the costs of any criminal or civil proceedings resulting from the intentional defensive use of a firearm by a firearm owner. ‘firearm.
These plans do not cover liability for negligence or accidental firing as required by the San Jose ordinance.
That means gun owners will have to rely exclusively on the personal liability provisions of their home or renter’s insurance plans, or pay hundreds of dollars for an umbrella personal liability plan. Even then, these plans rarely include specific provisions covering liability for firearm-related injuries.
3. Insignificant coverage
Even in the best of circumstances where firearms liability insurance is widely available and the requirement is widely enforced, these insurance plans will only cover a tiny fraction of firearm deaths and injuries occurring at San José.
Most acts of gun violence involve criminal or intentionally wrongful acts, which California law prohibits insurance companies from covering. Importantly, this would exclude coverage for not only homicides and assaults, but also firearm suicides, which account for 60% of all firearm deaths.
Additionally, while the new law seeks to make gun owners liable for any damage caused by lost or stolen firearms, unless the firearms were first reported as lost or stolen , homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies cover acts committed only by the insured person while on the insured property. .
So no matter who San Jose finds liable, if a gun owner has a typical home or renter’s insurance policy, that policy simply wouldn’t cover, say, damages inflicted by a thief who stole the weapon or by the owner of the weapon during a stop-accident of hunting to the property.
These policies also do not cover damage inflicted on an insured party, such as when a gun owner accidentally shoots himself or a family member while cleaning his gun.
This leaves coverage limited to narrow circumstances in which an insured firearm owner, while on their own property, accidentally or negligently injures a third party with a firearm.
This type of armed violence is relatively rare.
According to a report the city itself relied on to support the mandate, San Jose averages just two “unintentional/undetermined” gun deaths per year, which is just 3.4 percent. of all annual firearm deaths.
At the same time, the city of more than one million averages 25 nonfatal hospitalizations per year and 59 annual non-hospitalized ER visits due to “unintentional/undetermined” firearm injuries.
Even though most of these deaths and injuries are truly “unintentional,” as opposed to simply “undetermined,” it is impossible to know how many were committed with legally owned firearms in circumstances that would be covered by polices. traditional landlord or tenant liability.
And, of course, no insurance policy would cover situations involving illegally owned firearms.
The charges imposed by law on San Jose gun owners are not justified in the rare cases where insurance may cover an incident of gun violence.
4. Payments do not reduce taxpayer burden
San Jose officials have repeatedly defended their gun insurance mandate by lamenting the financial cost of gun violence on the city’s emergency response services and insisting that gun owners to fire foot the bill for gun violence.
And yet, mandating firearms liability insurance does nothing to alleviate the cost to taxpayers. In the rare cases where insurance policies could cover gunshot wounds, payments would not go to the city or its emergency responders.
Instead, payments would be directed to the victim’s medical bills (a cost only sometimes and indirectly borne by taxpayers if the victim is uninsured or on state-subsidized insurance) and any potential civil damages for lost wages or pain and suffering (a cost never borne by taxpayers).
5. The warrant will not save lives
Just as the insurance mandate is unlikely to save taxpayers money, it is equally unlikely to save lives by deterring future acts of gun violence.
California has the strictest gun laws in the country. If gun owners are not deterred from negligent, reckless or dangerous driving by the state’s existing criminal penalties or impositions of civil liability, why should they be deterred by the risk of increased Insurance premium ?
Worse perhaps, negligence firearms liability insurance can create perverse disincentives for gun owners, who no longer risk financial ruin for reckless conduct that harms others.
6. Unconstitutional tax
San Jose calls new fee for gun owners a ‘gun damage reduction fee,’ but it’s nothing less than an unconstitutional tax on the exercise of a right listed.
The Supreme Court has struck down similar laws, holding that “a state cannot impose a charge for the enjoyment of a right granted by the federal Constitution.”
That’s precisely what San Jose’s fees do – require gun owners to pay an annual sum of money to exercise their Second Amendment rights inside the city.
7. Misplaced Blame
Lawful gun owners are not the driving force of gun violence, yet San Jose has singled them out to pay for gun violence.
Law-abiding citizens should not be blamed (or charged) for criminal acts they did not commit, encourage or facilitate.
8. Legitimate Solutions Ignored
If San Jose officials are serious about reducing gun violence and reducing the associated financial costs, there are many better solutions.
The city could focus its energy on enforcing existing gun laws, perhaps, for example, disarming its share of the 23,000 Californians known to state authorities to possess guns. although they are forbidden people.
It could make those illegal gun owners and others who commit gun crimes pay by imposing fees and restitution on the state as part of the criminal conviction.
The city could also increase the size of its police force to deal with chronic understaffing and workload issues that hamper officers’ ability to enforce the law.
Instead of opting for these rational and simple measures, however, the city has apparently defaulted to what has become an all-too-common tactic in gun control policy: passing flimsy laws that impede the legal possession of guns. guns without solving any of the real problems.
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