A few weeks ago San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and city council members voted to impose a mandatory fee on legal gun owners in the city, as well as require them to carry liability insurance on their firearms. The move was hailed by the anti-gun press as a groundbreaking, “first-in-the-nation” approach, and I’m sure that Liccardo has been eagerly anticipating other cities following his lead.
So far, though, that hasn’t happened, even in the Bay area. Earlier this week, Liccardo was at the White House for Joe Biden’s latest photo-op on guns and crime, and he apparently used the face-time with the president to stump for his Second Amendment poll tax.
“This is a hopeful moment for me, an opportunity to be able to hear from colleagues from throughout the country and most importantly to be there while the President is hearing them,” Liccardo said.
In the wake of the Santa Clara mass shooting in May, where a transit worker killed ten people including himself, Liccardo followed that event up with pitches for the first-in-the-state city ordinances to require gun owners to have liability insurance and pay a yearly fee to relieve taxpayers of the cost of responding to gun violence. Liccardo discussed these plans with President Joe Biden and others at the White House.
“The president demonstrated he was passionate about this issue; he’s very concerned about what’s happening on the streets of big cities throughout the country,” Liccardo said. “He is really committed toward every prong of the strategy that we articulate around prevention, around intervention, and getting police out there in the street, as well as community-based public safety solutions.”
While Liccardo is putting a the best spin possible on his meeting, the fact remains that Biden hasn’t made any public comment about the mayor’s plan to charge a fee in order to exercise a constitutional right, nor did any other big city mayor come out of the White House meeting praising Liccardo’s big idea and vowing to do the same in their community.
In private, I’m sure that Liccardo’s idea did receive a warm welcome, but I doubt we’ll see too many of the mayor’s colleagues adopt his plan as their own (at least not before the inevitable lawsuits shake out).
Homicides in California increased by 31% last year, and that’s in a state with plenty of gun control laws already on the books, including (but not limited to):
- universal background checks
- a 10-day waiting period on firearm transfers
- background checks on ammunition purchases
- a ban on out-of-state and online ammo purchases
- a ban on so-called “assault weapons”
- a ban on “high capacity” magazines
- a microstamping law that has blocked new handgun models from being sold in the state
- red flag laws
- subjective “may issue” carry permits that require applicants to show good cause
- a ban on open carry
Does Liccardo or any other anti-gun advocate really believe that charging a fee for the exercise of a constitutionally-protected right, or requiring gun owners to purchase an insurance policy that doesn’t appear to exist will really cut down on the number of shootings? Of course not. This is about reducing the number of legal gun owners, not violent criminals.
There’s another reason why other mayors may not be eager to adopt Liccardo’s new gun control law; the mayor himself has no idea how the specifics of his anti-gun ordinances will actually work. The city hasn’t decided on how much it will try to charge gun owners, nor have they been able to point to any insurance companies that offer the policies the city is mandating. Supposedly those issues will all be resolved by September, but at this point the new ordinances are more fantasy than fact.
If and when these new policies actually take effect, perhaps we’ll see a few other mayors jump on the bandwagon, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Liccardo’s “first-in-the-nation” gun control law remains the only one of its kind while the courts consider the constitutionality of his not-so-bright idea.