After three mass shootings across the country claimed 33 lives over six days, the mayor of San José, California, has proposed a mandatory insurance requirement for the city’s gun owners.
“A mayor doesn’t have the luxury of just offering ‘thoughts and prayers’ — we have to solve problems,” Mayor Sam Liccardo (D) said in a statement on Monday. “While this is far from a complete solution, it is something we can do to reduce the harms of firearms, without waiting for Congress to take action.”
The proposed city ordinance would require all firearm owners in San José to carry liability insurance, a measure Liccardo referred to as a “harm reduction” strategy like those that have been implemented to address smoking rates and automobile accidents.
If passed by the city council, it would be the first of its kind in the country.
Those who are unable to purchase private firearm insurance may pay a fee instead, compensating taxpayers for public costs stemming from gun violence.
In his statement, Liccardo acknowledged that the 2nd Amendment protects gun ownership in the U.S.
“However, the Constitution does not require taxpayers to subsidize that individual choice,” he said. “The cost of city police and emergency services required to address gun violence should be paid by gun owners, not all taxpayers.”
The mayor also proposed taxing gun and ammunition sales to fund gun safety courses, gun violence prevention programs and assistance for survivors of gun violence; starting a “consent-to-search program” that would allow parents to choose to allow local law enforcement to search their children’s property; and offering cash rewards to individuals who report illegally obtained weapons.
Mandatory firearm insurance is only one of many steps needed to address the gun issue, Liccardo said. “With this measure, we won’t suddenly end gun violence,” he said. “But we’re going to stop paying for it.”