The city of San Jose in California recently made history, but not for anything good. Gun-owning residents will soon be required to pay a premium price to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
Mayor Sam Liccardo, a gun control advocate, recently announced a new “innovative” ordinance in response to the tragic mass shooting that befell the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) rail yard in May.
The new law will mandate gun owners pay liability insurance and an annual fee for costs incurred by gun-related violence. And at what cost? The freedom to exercise their right to keep and bear arms legally without being burdened with arbitrary financial burdens.
California already has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, with 107 restrictive provisions in the books. Last year, there were over 2,220 homicides in the state — a 31% increase from 2019.
Law-abiding gun owners shouldn’t be held criminally or civilly liable for crimes they don’t commit. Since these gun owners aren’t responsible for these acts of violence, how can they be responsible for the wrongdoing of others?
Much to the chagrin of gun control advocates, responsible gun owners already take appropriate precautions and practice gun safety. Across the Golden State, gun owners safely store their firearms and teach their peers to handle firearms with care. How does requiring gun owners to obtain personal insurance for ownership prevent crimes they aren’t responsible for?
What’s “innovative” about punishing innocent people for crimes perpetrated by others and pricing them out of firearms ownership?
If politicians were serious about tackling crimes and preventing future mass shootings, they wouldn’t direct law enforcement to target innocent residents. Law enforcement is already overextended and short-staffed tackling crime. Deploying police to enforce such an ordinance would waste taxpayer dollars and raise Fourth Amendment concerns.
The San Jose mayor erroneously claims purchasing insurance will incentivize safe gun ownership like car insurance does safe driving. He further insists insurance will cost “a couple dozen dollars”—though an exact figure has yet to be determined. Those who are unable to afford it, he said, will have the fee waived, which raises questions about how necessary it is in the first place.
An “innovative” approach to tackling crime won’t incur added costs and make legal gun ownership a privilege. Why? Firearms ownership isn’t conditional on paying the equivalent of a poll tax; it’s a sacred, inalienable right enshrined in the Bill of Rights in our Constitution.
Imposing arbitrary fees on this basic right is not only draconian, it’s discriminatory.
Ordinances like this won’t address illegal activity involving firearms—especially rising violent crime rates befalling the state’s largest cities. Instead, these proposals will price out low-income, minority residents from the market instead making gun ownership a luxury — not a right. That’s not innovative; that’s regressive.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a trade association representing firearms manufacturers, estimates consumers spent an average of $600 on firearms last year. The additional fees that’ll be incurred by this lopsided ordinance will make gun ownership more expensive than it should be.
Mayor Liccardo concedes in an op-ed for CNN, “Skeptics will say that criminals won’t comply. They’re right.”
With increased demand for firearms and ammunition across the country, it’s ill-advised to discriminate against law-abiding residents, including California gun owners, who desire to protect themselves and their loved ones from the very criminals laws should be targeting.
At the end of the day, this sweeping initiative shouldn’t be exported statewide. Policies like it will grossly infringe on the rights of citizens and make firearms ownership a privilege for the wealthy, privileged few.
Tackling crime shouldn’t come at the expense of our civil liberties.