There’s a growing effort in some states controlled by the Republican Party to limit local governments from initiating ordinances to circumvent broader laws, or the lack thereof, creating a confusing patchwork of laws within a state.
A recent example of a local municipality doing this just occurred this week in San Jose, California, though the Golden State is far from GOP-controlled.
The San Jose City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to “become the first in the nation to require firearms owners to buy insurance and pay fees to relieve taxpayers of the costs of responding to gun violence,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
In effect, lawful gun owners will be punished for the actions of lawbreakers — the U.S. Constitution be damned.
The ordinance to be drafted would “order gun owners in the city to obtain insurance and pay an annual fee to subsidize police responses, ambulances, medical treatment and other municipal expenses related to shootings, injuries and deaths,” the article further explained.
“The council has made clear that while the Second Amendment certainly protects the right for every citizen to own a gun, it does not mandate that taxpayers subsidize that right,” Mayor Sam Liccardo said at a news conference Wednesday.
Gun violence in San José costs taxpayers $442 million. That’s $2.2 million in taxes *per gun violence victim*. The Second Amendment protects the rights of Americans to own guns but doesn’t require taxpayers to subsidize gun ownership. #EndGunViolence pic.twitter.com/KtSm8QhwXA
— Sam Liccardo (@sliccardo) June 29, 2021
Liccardo cited figures from the Pacific Institute on Research and Evaluation to say that between 2013 and 2019, residents paid $441.9 million in gun violence-related costs.
As for how much lawful gun owners will be penalized, the Democratic mayor put the figure at a “couple dozen dollars” — one might think the officials would have thought it through a little more thoroughly.
“Owning a gun in this country is expensive simply because guns cost a lot of money,” Liccardo added, according to San Jose Spotlight. “Many guns cost hundreds of dollars. So I would expect that a fee that is perhaps a couple dozen dollars is not going to be particularly onerous.”
The fees will be mandatory, but the mayor noted there is no gun registry and the city has no way to identify and contact gun owners — a foreboding admission if ever there was one.
The vote came one month after a gunman killed nine workers at a San Jose rail yard — the shooting was seen as a workplace incident.
The Chronicle quoted Stanford Law Professor John Donohue suggesting “good guys” play a big role in arming criminals.
“I have the right to swing my arm freely but I should pay if it hits my neighbor in the face,” Donohue said. “With 400,000 guns stolen every year, the good guys do a lot to arm the bad guys, so they should pay for their contribution to the mayhem.”
The professor also opined that cities can hold gun owners responsible for the ensuing costs, as long as citizens calculate the costs carefully.
Jessica Blitchok, a volunteer with the gun-grabbing Moms Demand Action group, supported the action.
“There is no one law or policy that will solve the public health crisis that is the gun violence epidemic,” Blitchok told the Chronicle. “However, a holistic approach will reduce gun harm in San Jose and the greater community.”
The Firearms Policy Coalition vowed to challenge the ordinance in court, saying the fees violate the Second Amendment and would “put lawful access to firearms out of reach of poor and underprivileged individuals in high-crime neighborhoods.”
Here’s a quick sampling of responses to the story from Twitter, including one social media user who wondered aloud why people choose freely to live in California:
I don’t own a gun nor ever plan to but I want to understand this authoritarian law. Please correct me if I’m wrong.
I buy a gun legally. Person 2 buys a gun illegally. Person two shoots somebody. My taxes go up?
— Isles47 (@isles47) June 30, 2021
What percentage of this violence js being done with guns owned by high income legal owners you are proposing to tax?
— happymac (@stealthismac) June 29, 2021
This will do nothing to reduce gun violence!
— Dana (@danalee492) June 29, 2021
I agree with a lot of these comments, you are simply taxing the law-abiding citizens, and not the ones using the guns improperly. Seems all kind of infringement to charge your own citizens extra to defend themselves
— Speratic (@SperaticGaming) June 30, 2021
How anyone chooses freely to live in CA is beyond me.
Get out now people, its circling the drain
— Space Cowboy (@SoxPedro) June 30, 2021
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