San Jose Mayor Unveils First-of-Its-Kind Policy Proposal to Combat Gun Violence

Just weeks after a gunman opened fire on the Gilroy Garlic Festival, killing three and wounding more than a dozen others, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo has announced a “comprehensive” proposal to combat gun violence.

The initiative unveiled this morning, which city officials are calling a first-of-its-kind in the nation, would require firearm owners to carry liability insurance for their weapons. Those unable to acquire such insurance would instead pay a fee to compensate the public for the “cost of firearm violence in America’s 10th largest city,” according to a press release from the mayor’s office.

The insurance would cover accidental discharges, as well as the intentional acts of someone who stole, borrowed or acquired the gun. However, it wouldn't cover the liability of the gun owner for their own “intentional conduct.”

“Under current Supreme Court rulings, the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the right to keep and bear arms,” the mayor said. “However, the Constitution does not require taxpayers to subsidize that individual choice. The cost of city police and emergency services required to address gun violence should be paid by gun owners, not all taxpayers.”

Liccardo compares his initiative to other “harm reduction strategies” that have helped lower smoking rates and injuries and deaths from car collisions.

“We require motorists to carry automobile insurance, and the insurance industry appropriately encourages and rewards safe driver behavior,” Liccardo added. “We tax tobacco consumption both to discourage risky behavior and to make sure non-smokers are not forced to subsidize the substantial public health costs generated by smoking-related illnesses and deaths.”

Like car insurance, the proposal would be enforced if someone was caught with an uninsured gun on them.

“We don’t expect the bad guys to go and buy insurance,” he said. “We do expect, however, that they may be involved in an incident where they’re packing.”

In addition to the insurance or fee requirements, Liccardo also proposes mandating a gun and ammunition sales tax that would help fund gun safety classes, gun violence prevention programs and victim assistance services.

With the approval of the City Council, officials would conduct citywide polling on the potential ballot measure and work with the county and other nearby cities to pursue a regional tax measure.

He also plans to explore a “consent-to-search” program for juveniles that would allow parents to give law enforcement the go-ahead to search their child’s property. In the last part of his proposal, Liccardo said that he wants to create a program that would offer cash to tipsters who share information about people with unlawfully-obtained guns or weapons.

“With this measure, we won’t suddenly end gun violence,” Liccardo noted. “But we’re going to stop paying for it.”

The insurance or fee requirements would be passed by the San Jose City Council, while the gun and ammunition tax would be left up to the voters.

San Jose Vice Mayor Chappie Jones supported his colleague's proposal at a press conference Monday afternoon.

“We must do something to change this violence. We can’t wait for the federal government to take action,” he said. “As someone who was a victim of gun violence, I know the pain and the terror of being shot at.”

Jones was 19-years-old when a man tried to cut in front of him at a drive-thru. The incident led to a car chase that left Jones fleeing while bullets hit the back of his car.

“It really hit me what that impact would be on my parents if they lost their son and how they would never be the same,” he said. “I know there is going to be a lot of strong opposition to the proposal. This is one step in a very long journey to adopt common sense gun regulations. ”

Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco) praised the San Jose mayor’s proposal.

“Since Trump and his Republican allies have abdicated their responsibility to address our country’s gun violence crisis, cities and states must lead, and I applaud Mayor Liccardo and San Jose’s bold leadership on this innovative solution,” he said.

Liccardo plans to reach out to other mayors throughout the state and the nation to help pass similar local laws. He also wants the city to advocate for a statewide insurance-based approach to “harm reduction from guns.”

“Just like restrictions against smoking in offices and restaurants started in cities and spread widely, we hope by this effort we can promote a national model of harm reduction to reduce gun violence,” Liccardo said.

Grace Hase is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @grace_hase.

22 Comments

  1. “The cost of city police and emergency services required to address gun violence should be paid by gun owners, not all taxpayers.”

    Then I think the unhoused need special insurance then. I think alcoholics need special insurance then. I think drug addicts need special insurance then. All of these take up way more of police and emergency services.

    • I just think the argument is poor. Yes, drunk drivers kill more people per year. But assault weapons have no business in our society. They are not hunting weapons.

      Unfortunately, a candidate for state senate is supported by PACs who invest heavily in Mike Crapo

      https://www.nraila.org/articles/20100913/nra-pvf-endorses-mike-crapo-for-us-se

      Can we agree that any county supervisor who takes money from a PAC who supports an NRA senator is not fit for Legislature who can act to ban assault weapons.

      • Can you clarify which type of Assault Weapon you are referring too? This is where people get confused.

        People hunt with Semi-Automatic Rifles all the time. The original (cir. 2000) California Assault rifle is a Semi-Automatic Rifle with a pistol grip for ergonomics and a detachable magazine (regardless of size). The latest and stricter designation requires disassembly of the firearm to remove the magazine. It’s completely useless for a tactical situation and only good for hunting.

        There is no “extra” function to CA Assault Weapon other than it looks different. It like racing seats in car. It doesn’t make the car go faster.

        On the other hand a fully automatic firearms and select fire firearms are controlled by the federal government and are illegal in CA. They are also very expensive (>$20K). People don’t hunt with these, they are toys for the rich.

        The Gilroy shooter had committed felony by bringing the AK variant firearm to CA. And broke several other laws before he entered the festival.

        I don’t judge people by the way they look so why would I judge a gun by the same standards?

  2. In addition to this Liccardo, you should do something to start changing your corrupted politics scam. The county courts and judges should for once start applying justice. As you can see with the Gilroy shooting example, someone with intente to kill will do just that. This community is becoming resentful of the officials and courts’ corruption. You should resign! Everyone in this city knows you are Google’s puppet!

  3. “With this measure, we won’t suddenly end gun violence,” Liccardo noted. “But we’re going to stop paying for it.”

    So it’s not about gun violence (death and injuries)? It’s about the money? If people die, well at least the city won’t have to pay. Ah geez. Horrible.

    Still too soon for political gibberish.

    • Everyone knows he does not care about the regular people only his google, colleagues, and friends people. He is after the money and passing something with his name on it that he can brag about in the future. Something has to be done about this guns’ Mess thought! Executive actions from #KamalaHarrisForThePeople

  4. How do you get the bad guys, the gang bangers, drug dealers and other malcontents to buy gun insurance when they don’t even register their guns in the first place or themselves when applying for a permit to even buy/own a gun? Right now we have laws requiring auto insurance and how many are driving our streets right now with out car insurance? Answer – a lot. Then to top it off – if you are a “low-income, disadvantaged person of some particular group” you get your bail lowered and jail sentences reduced. the only thing Liccardo’ s plan is good for is a gimmick way to raise taxes on legit people who may own a gun for home/family protection. Am i seeing this wrong?

    • “How do you get the bad guys, the gang bangers, drug dealers and other malcontents to buy gun insurance”

      Excellent point especially since they don’t register or insure their cars!

      There are two types of people the support this garbage. Politicians and criminals – not much difference in my book.

  5. Lets see what else shouldn’t tax payers have to foot the bill for. Lets start with free medical for illegal alien’s. Free collage. Free housing, welfare, public transportation, just off the top of my head exploding head.

  6. You want to tax something, tax the drug industry, DR’s. and schools that pass out psychotropic drugs that screw these people up in the first place!
    Blaming, Guns, and Gun Owners is like blaming the pill bottle for the reaction to pills that came in it.

  7. Lets make Bicycle owners buy and carry insurance, and we will tax that insurance to pay for bike lanes, and injury’s.
    How about skate boards and rental scooter while we are at it!

    • Seriously. They implemented all these new bike lanes that made traffic so much worse, costing commuters time and money. Are bicyclists and ev scooter riders going to have to get insurance as well so that drivers are compensated for the costs? What about people in wheel chairs? Should they have to be insured if they’re operating their chairs on the sidewalk and strike another person?

      Long story short – Mayor Liccardo is an idiot that’s pissed off his constituents with ambiguous knee jerk laws and rhetoric that has opened a can of worms

  8. One big problem: liability insurance doesn’t cover criminal or intentional acts. It might cover someone who negligently allowed a disturbed family member to have access to their gun, but no insurer on the face of this planet is going to sell insurance that covers the perpetrator of a shooting.

  9. Tell me this is a joke? Will I need “voter insurance” too?

    This is just another feel good law by Mr. Liccardo to further his political career. This type of “policy” will result in SJ getting sued. We will have a ton of legal bills and years in court, while Mr. Liccardo is on his next endeavor leaving a mess behind. Eventually it will get overturned and nothing is done.

    Set your emotions aside and let’s talk facts. San Jose has nearly as many pedestrians killed as total murders. This includes murders from non-firearm related deaths, knives, fights, etc… and is mostly murders from drug and gang related activity.

    Two citations from the Merc:
    The collision marked the 24th pedestrian death of the year in San Jose, matching a 20-year high set in 2014. There have been 52 total traffic fatalities in the city this year [2018 as of 12/24/18].
    https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/12/24/san-jose-authorities-identify-man-hit-killed-by-car/

    On its website, the San Jose Police Department calls the statistics on pedestrian deaths “a disturbingly high number.” [9/5/18].
    https://www.sanjoseinside.com/2018/09/05/planned-freeway-overpass-tests-san-joses-vision-zero-pledge-to-reduce-traffic-fatalities/

    The total number of murders is 30 something (sorry I don’t have the exact number). Unless you are are drug dealer, gangster, or pimp, you have a better chance of being run over by a car and a greater (almost 200%) chance of dying in a car accident than being than being killed by a random stranger. And if you are one of the three profession mentioned, no one is crying for you.

    A few other local issues that are much higher on my scale.
    1. Corrupt politicians – I won’t mention names.
    2. Traffic
    3. Homeless
    4. Crime
    a Drug use
    b Graffiti
    c Home burglary
    d Auto burglary
    e Gangs
    f Prostitution
    5. Road conditions
    6. Reckless driving

    583. Gun control.

    In the end how is one more unenforceable gun “policy” going to make us safer? How about putting some cops on the street to address the horrible traffic safety issues and crime?

  10. Does he think criminals or people who anticipating shooting others will obtain insurance??? This is just one more thing to task people with. They say people with cars have to have insurance…well, that’s because they take it out on the road and it becomes a liability. If they keep it at home, they don’t have to have insurance. So, now, what if a person owns a weapon and they simply keep it locked up at home. Why would they need insurance? If they are mandated to have insurance would that mean they will be allowed to carry it with them? I think they should think about this a little more. There are too many holes. Having insurance is not going to stop someone from shooting someone else if they are intent on doing it. It’s just another cost on a person.

  11. This is just as toothless and undemocratic as when the city forced through anti-smoking edicts, which, no one was allowed to vote on, so no one obeyed cause the cops didn’t enforce it! Sam Liccardo’s efforts are misguided and unconstitutional to upstanding, gun owning citizens who see the increase in violence due to the social and economic inequality, which Liccardo has only made worse with his backdoor dealings with companies like Google, and using unfair taxation without the representation of his constituents who are only trying to protect themselves and their own families. Sure, gun laws need to become more strict, but it’s ludicrous to assume you as mayor can just tax gun owners without this turning into sour real quick.
    Let’s start with the obvious stupidity of your plan, Sam – How is the city going to collect on this insurance? are gun owners supposed to just willingly admit they own guns and pay the city, or is the city going to create a list and just send them a bill? What if people just don’t pay? Would the city then send cops to otherwise law abiding citizens who haven’t broken any laws other than not paying unlawful taxes on their firearms?

    I think Sam Liccardo’s position of authority is starting to become too much for him, as he’s wasting city funds on inefficient bike lanes, making backdoor deals that line his pockets, all the while, as crime and homeless increase, Sam’s punishing local residents for protecting themselves.

  12. I might remind the good mayor that his own police department has zero duty or obligation to protect the public. That was clearly evident when his appointed Police Chief and the rest of SJPD stood by and did nothing to protect Trump supporters at a San Jose rally during the last election. The irony of that event is the only people that had a right to protect themselves were people who the local sheriff allows the priviledge to possess guns in public venues.
    That very same sheriff and those who have firearms permits from her are under investigation for corruption. I might add that our biggest problem in the city and county of Santa Clara is corruption of our(and by) our elected officials.

    Since the rule of law means so little to you and the rest of our denizens of city hall (and the county supervisors) then why should you expect us to obey the law?

  13. What a hypocrite he wants insurance so they can pay for gun safety training yet San Jose city is closing the only public range which was teaching gun saftey to kids and their parents .

    • Amen to that! That range has been around for longer than he has and is heavily used. Not to mention that it’s a city park being given to a private entity (the ice rink).

      Mr. Liccardo sounds like a closet republican!

  14. This guy is a joke, we should vote him out. Oh, never mind, only liberals are allowed to run big cities else things like poverty and homelessness might actually improve.

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