San Jose becomes 1st city in nation to approve liability insurance, fee for gun owners

San Jose on Tuesday is believed to be the first city in the nation to approve liability insurance and a fee for San Jose gun owners. 

The gun control ordinance, introduced by San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo was approved in a virtual meeting. The meeting included discussion portions by the mayor, city council and public comment. 

The San Jose City Council overwhelmingly approved the measure despite opposition from some gun owners who said it would violate their Second Amendment rights. 

There were two separate votes; one on the insurance mandate, which passed 10 to one, and a second on the annual fee, which passed 8 to 3. The fee would go towards firearm safety education and services such as domestic violence prevention and mental health services. The fee would be between $25 and $35. 

Two mass shootings in the South Bay led to the Gun Harm Reduction Ordinance. In 2019 a gunman killed four people at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Then in May of 2021, a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority worker killed nine of his co-workers at a rail yard. 

During Tuesday's Zoom meeting, City Councilmember Raul Peralez talked about losing a friend who was shot and killed. "We can and should be doing more," he said.

Liccardo said he and the councilmembers are looking to reduce harm from guns. In a statement released after the vote, he thanked his colleagues and said, "I look forward to supporting the efforts of others to replicate these initiatives across the nation."

However, others who sounded off during public comment did not see it that way.

"This is not fair. To a person that has legally done nothing wrong, who owns a gun, to basically be reprimanded," said Mike Grant a member of the National Rifle Association. "You've gotta go after the criminal that is stealing the gun, committing the crime and prosecute them."

This is a very common-sense approach to looking at the impact of gun violence. We pay millions of dollars in costs for gun violence that happens in San Jose and we need different solutions," said Esther Peralez-Dieckman from the Gun Harm Reduction Ordinance.

Disagreement over the ordinance spurred 50 people, opponents and supporters to speak at the virtual meeting. Some questioned the rights of those who want to be peaceful and safe. Others complained that the gun control movement only arises after mass shootings occur and that the city is still unable to protect its citizens from criminals. 

A second reading of the new ordinance is scheduled for Feb. 8. The new measure will go into effect Aug. 8. 

Associated Press contributed to this story.