Gun owners who live in San Jose, California will soon be required to buy liability insurance and pay an annual fee as a form of tax to the city over its costly response to gun violence.
On Wednesday, the Californian city became the first to move ahead with a mandate requiring gun owners to pay a yearly fee to help relieve the taxpayer burden related to policing gun-related crimes following a unanimous vote by the San Jose City Council. The city estimated that gun violence in San Jose costs up to $442 million every year based on preliminary estimates provided by the Public Institute on Research and Evaluation (PIRE).
The preliminary research estimate of $442 million relating to gun in San Jose was based on estimating the cost of homicides, suicides and other incidents, 205 of which occurred, between the 2013-2019 time period. The estimated cost includes: direct out-of-pocket cost to residents ($35 million), lost work ($78 million), and quality of life ($328 million). Federal, state, and local governments pay almost $40 million for gun violence in San Jose. Taxpayers contribute to these through costs for emergency response, victim support, tax revenue lost when a victim cannot work, healthcare, and more.
The move to clamp down on gun violence in San Jose comes a month after a mass shooting in a San Jose rail yard left 10 people dead. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the fee will be used to subsidize law enforcement, ambulances, medical treatment, and other related expenses resulting from gun violence.
“The [city of San Jose] is taking action against gun violence with this first-of-its-kind landmark decision,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo on Twitter following the council’s decision. “The Second Amendment protects the rights of Americans to own guns, but doesn’t require taxpayers to subsidize gun ownership. #EndGunViolence.”
Liccardo said the city has yet to determine the amount gun owners will have to pay, but it will likely be a “couple dozen dollars,” and those who can’t afford it will not be charged.
“While the Second Amendment protects the right to bear arms, it does not require taxpayers to subsidize gun ownership,” said Liccardo in a statement. “We won’t magically end gun violence, but we will stop paying for it. We can also better care for its victims, and reduce gun-related injuries and death through sensible interventions.”
On June 15, the city passed a law requiring gun stores to video record every gun purchase. Retailers were given 90 days to comply with the mandate.
“The sale or transfer of a Firearm or of Firearm Ammunition to persons who are not sworn peace officers shall be recorded by the video surveillance system in such a way that the facial features of the purchaser or transferee are clearly visible,” the ordinance reads. It was put in place to combat straw purchases, which is when someone without a criminal record buys a gun on behalf of someone who cannot legally own a firearm.