Mayor Renews Gun Insurance Proposal in Wake of VTA Shooting

A week ago, a gunman opened fire at a San Jose, California, rail yard, killing nine of his colleagues before apparently killing himself. Some eight miles away, the gunman’s home had been set ablaze.

Although officials are still trying to piece together exactly what happened that morning and why — a task that may never really be complete — the details that have emerged are gutting, in part because they were predictable in a nation where such mass shootings have become a numbing routine.

The gunman had for years complained about his job at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, telling his ex-wife that he wished he could kill his co-workers and writing about his hatred for the agency in a notebook once flagged by border officials as he returned from a trip. He was described by colleagues, neighbors and former partners as an emotionally volatile, likely mentally ill loner.

Victims’ loved ones described the shattering sudden loss of parents, spouses and friends who were merely starting an ordinary work day when they were killed.

This wasn’t the first time that San Jose’s mayor, Sam Liccardo, had been called upon to comfort community members grieving for loved ones killed in a mass shooting.

In 2019, “we lost two children,” he told me Tuesday, referring to the deaths of two young city residents during a shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival.

Now, as then, Liccardo said, the first priority has been to ensure that survivors and families have access to counseling and support. But he said he also feels urgency to enact policies that might stem the tide of gun violence — even if long-sought federal gun control legislation has been elusive.

“Mayors don’t have the luxury of offering prayers and platitudes,” he said. “People expect concrete actions.”

To that end, Liccardo said, he hoped the San Jose City Council would approve, by the end of the year, a first-in-the-nation requirement that gun owners in the city insure their weapons or pay fees to keep them. The idea, he explained, is that guns are contributing to a public health crisis — and it’s expensive.

Liccardo said that requiring drivers to carry auto insurance has helped cut down on fatalities from car crashes, so having the private insurance industry get involved would help incentivize responsible gun ownership and defray the cost of gun violence to taxpayers, who pay for emergency and law enforcement services.

The mayor first proposed the idea in 2019 in the wake of the Gilroy shooting, but he said the pandemic delayed progress on the measure.

“We were working with an epidemiologist at the county, so we put that aside,” he said. “Now, I think we’re ready to come back.”

Of course, gun laws at every level have faced intense and sustained legal challenges. Liccardo told me he’s “not delusional” about the fact that a gun regulation ordinance would require a vigorous legal defense. But he said that city-level policy changes could provide ideas that Congress and even the state legislature would not be nimble enough to enact.

“No one would say that it would be ideal for each city to come up with its own policies,” he said. “But we recognize that cities can be laboratories for policy innovation.”

Copyright 2021, The New York Times Company


  1. Its nothing but a poll tax by a different name. Driving is a privilege granted by the state, gun ownership is not.

  2. Absolutely ridiculous. Why not take action on the officials that ignored the calls made from his ex-wife? Red flag laws?? Do something to aid the mentally ill which is a much larger issue and the reason behind mass shootings???

  3. I believe that would be unconstitutional; the Constitution establishes an individual right to firearm ownership.

    What should have happened with this guy is somebody should have noticed he was a psycho and invoked the California law where they can take guns away from someone who has a mental issue thst might cause them to be violent.

    Also I would say any kind of domestic violence charge even if not a felony should flag you on nics.

    I would definitely support a tax on ammunition too and gunpowder. That would be intended to slow down illegal gun use such as gangs having a lot of ammo.

  4. It’s an infringement on a constitutionally protected right. No wonder it’s sought.

    Note that it doesn’t just illegitimately harass, but it identifies owners and guns.

    Imposing harassing taxes on guns and ammo is hardly anything new (including the 10,000 per cent tax on ammunition tried before, obviously unconstitutional), but licensure with the “fee” alternative (that also involves identification) is an alternative form of registration, not just plain harassment. It’s illegitimate and more moral failure, from the usual lowly motives and contempt for top law.

  5. The “urgency to enact” to which the mayor’s allegedly succumbed, should’ve led him to realize he lacked the authority to do so (at least without violating the Constitution), but it didn’t, resulting in his recycling a policy proposal that in no way addresses the relevant tragedy, and attempting to justify it with a mishmash of contradictory claims.

    First off, though gun violence can be plausibly framed as a health crisis, the mayor stumbled badly when he cited its related expense. When addressing Constitutionally protected conduct (e.g. gun ownership), to attempt to restrict it by citing its monetary cost is to put a price on a freedom. For instance, America has a free press, one that through misreporting and outright distortion has claimed many lies (e.g. fanning the flames of racial violence, playing politics with the source of the Covid virus), but no sane politician would dare seek to restrict it by issuing fines for reckless and harmful reporting.

    Secondly, Mr. Liccardo’s equating an insurance requirement for an activity performed daily by a hundred million Americans (operating a motor vehicle) with an activity that less than one in 10,000 civilians do in a lifetime (shoot a fellow human) reveals just how desperate he is to justify the unjustifiable. As for his highly questionable claim about insurance cutting down on fatalities, is he really so stupid as to think that savage shooters, be they crazed coworkers, enraged spouses, or violent street thugs, could be dissuaded by an insurance requirement? Does the mayor believe the thieves who steal 150,000 cars in California every year are dutifully insured?

    Clearly, Sam Liccardo is a mediocrity looking to increase his political stature by way of big stunt politics (it worked for mediocre Gavin), attempting to personally capitalize on the tragic deaths of ten good men. Shameful, for sure, but absolutely consistent. This city deserves so much better.

  6. “The three guns were legally obtained and registered, according to FBI Special Agent in Charge Craig Fair.”
    According to the above quote, he purchased the guns legally. The magazines were illegal. BTW they can be made by anyone with a little metal shop experience. Do we really think someone who is committed to perpetrating a mass murder gives a flying you-know-what about a state law prohibiting anything to do with gun control, the legality of the magazines, or whether he has the right insurance? He fired 39 rounds, that is only 4 “legal” magazines.

    The heinous act was committed by someone with a serious mental illness – sane people don’t commit mass murder. And please don’t respond with the pablum about my comments “stigmatizing people with mental illness.” Of course they do — they are meant to stigmatize the violent ones.

    Some people go postal, but, as in this case, there are often signs. Unfortunately, we won’t get the facts and complete history of this murderer from the authorities or the press because they will downplay anything that doesn’t fit their narrative or political aspirations. The civil litigation will get to the facts; however, it will take a couple of years.

    All this talk about the need for background checks is nonsense. Background checks have been required for decades in California.

    This insane act, along with every other murder, is a tragedy. And while it gets headlines because it is such an awful thing, it also gets additional headlines and attention because it fits a narrative ( albeit a false one) – a narrative that we need more gun control laws.
    These 10 deaths by gun violence represent fewer deaths than the average week in Chicago. Here are the year-to-date statistics about gun violence in Chicago – just one American city run by progressive (and has been for decades) — politicians who support gun control.

    Year to Date:
    Shot & Killed: 247
    Shot & Wounded: 1163
    Total Shot: 1410
    Total Homicides: 264


    Read that again and let it sink in: 247 killed by guns in less than 5 months! 1,410 shot! 10 deaths would be considered a slow week in Chicago. Chicago is averaging. over 13 murders per WEEK. And, we haven’t really gotten into the ‘high season.” Those hot summer nights. Where are all the protests? Where are all the vigils? And, many of the victims are innocent children. Most of the victims are POC. Most of the shooters are POCs. Where is the BLM outrage?
    As to the Mayor of San Jose’s virtue signaling, not one of his sophomoric proposals would have stopped this or any other mass shooting. His ridiculous demand that we video tape the purchase serves what purpose? When you buy a gun they take a photocopy of your CDL. You cannot insure against criminal acts and the guy who has to buy a safe to keep his gun in has the combination.
    Who is going to inspect his premises to ensure that he actually has a safe? Will this be an annual inspection?

    Quite frankly, the mayor’s ideas fall to the level of intellectual masturbation — it is solely for the purpose of his own self-gratification and the promotion of his aspirations for higher office. A group of stoned sophomore sorority sisters sipping cranberry cocktails could come with a more workablt plan for world peace.

    County supervisors Samitian and Ellenberg could barely vote for the for mandatory out-patient care commonly known as Laura’s Law. They driveled on about the rights of the mentally ill, and, as far as I can tell, never once discussed the negative impact on society cause by those who are violent. They seldom seem to side with the victims. Think about Bambi Larson whose life they callously dismissed as a causality for a greater good.

    The Spotlight ran this disgusting and false OpEd the same day as the shooting:

    The truth is that Laura’s Law is even too weak. We need to reverse the negative impact of the LPS Act and reinstate force commitments for those who appear to be a danger to themselves and others.

  7. The National Safety Council states that assaults are the 4th leading cause of workplace deaths. yet only Santa Clara County’s Behavior Health Department appears to have an ongoing program to address employee safety.

    City of San Jose and Santa Clara County employee handbooks prohibit any form of self-defense by employees, nor do they (other than SCC’s Behavioral Health) offer routine training for detection and prevention – unlike public schools. Stalking is a significant safety issue.

    Restraining orders / Red Flag laws don’t work. Source:
    – 48.8% of victims were abused again after filing the order.
    – 69% of stalked women were stalked again
    – 81% of stalked men were stalked again
    – 21% experienced increased staling and violence

    VTA’s employee handbook is not publicly available, however they have a ‘No Weapons’ policy posted on platforms, uses, and trains.

    If Liccardo were sincere, he would be protecting city employees and residents with effective means rather than blatantly ineffective proposals.

  8. We can all do one very simple thing to clean up our once beautiful city of San Jose. Stop electing Democrat leaders.

  9. Banning all guns is going to save us in a state that just released 75,000 felons on to the streets because they might catch the Wuhan Red death? Is every politician in this state absolutely crazy?
    Talk about never letting a good crises go to waste, what the hell is the matter with voters in this state that they keep electing the same stuck on stupid power hungry WOK left wing dim wits.

    Wake Up California, The Democrats Are Trying To Kill You!

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