First-of-its-kind gun ownership laws passes in San Jose

Photo Credit: San Jose Police Department website

San Jose passed a new city law called the “Gun Harm Reduction Ordinance” this week that will require firearm owners to maintain gun liability insurance and pay an annual fee of $25 aimed at reducing gun violence.

San Jose residents who own a gun must maintain homeowner’s, renter’s or gun liability insurance that covers losses or damages resulting from negligent or accidental use of their firearm, according to the new law. Additionally, the yearly fee of $25 will go to a new city-launched nonprofit that will decide how to disseminate the funds with help from health care executives, nonprofit leaders and domestic violence professionals. The organization will use the money to contribute to a variety of services including suicide prevention programs, domestic violence services, mental health and addiction services, and firearm safety training, according to the City.

Sworn, active reserve or retired police officers, residents who have a license to carry a concealed weapon, and low-income residents facing financial hardships would be exempt from this ordinance.

The ordinance, expected to take effect in August, has received backlash from the National Foundation for Gun Rights, which has already filed a lawsuit against the City, and additional lawsuits are expected to follow.

The city is not planning to collect fees until the lawsuits are cleared up.

Mayor Sam Liccardo introduced the proposal over two years ago in the wake of the 2019 Gilroy Garlic Festival where four people, including two San Jose children, were killed when a gunman cut through a security fence and opened fire at festivalgoers. Liccardo put the proposed policies into action following the VTA yard shooting last summer, which was the largest mass shooting in San Jose to date.