San Jose’s new ordinances requiring most gun owners to purchase liability insurance and pay a private third-party a fee in order to lawfully possess a firearm in the city was just approved on Tuesday evening and won’t take effect until August, but the first lawsuits challenging the new rules have already been filed by Second Amendment organizations and individual gun owners hoping to halt the law from being enforced.
On today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, I’m joined by Mark Walters, the host of Armed American Radio and my colleague on the board of directors at the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and Mark has plenty to say about Mayor Sam Liccardo’s attempted power grab. To Walters, San Jose’s move is part of a broader attack on our Constitution by the left; one that also includes Joe Biden’s end run around the Constitution by imposing vaccine mandates and declaring an eviction moratorium through administrative orders.
Thankfully, most of those efforts have been roundly rejected by the Supreme Court, but as Walters points out, SCOTUS only hears about one out of every 10,000 cases that are filed. Walters believes that Liccardo and his fellow anti-gun politicians are counting on Ninth Circuit upholding San Jose’s gun control scheme and the Supreme Court taking a pass on judicial review, and that seems like a pretty sound bet, given that since the Supreme Court issued its decision in Heller in 2008, the Ninth Circuit has yet to find a gun control law it’s examined to be unconstitutional.
Still, these new ordinances are so egregiously awful that even the Ninth Circuit may not be able to defend them. The mayor and city council members say mandating these new Second Amendment “sin taxes” is designed to encourage responsible gun ownership, but this is really about making legal gun ownership more burdensome and legally dangerous. Failure to abide by the law, after all, is punishable by up to a year in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both. If Liccardo and his colleagues on the city council were truly interested in promoting responsible gun ownership, they could have incentivized things like buying a gun safe or a locking safety device. Instead they decided to impose criminal penalties on the mere possession of a firearm in the home.
We already know that those who illegally possess a firearm aren’t going to abide by the insurance mandate or pay their annual fee to keep ahold of their ill-gotten guns, which means legal gun owners are being singled out to help pay for the damage done by violent criminals in the city. Public safety is a concern of the general public, so why are only those exercising a constitutionally-protected right being forced to pay a fee to a private third-party non-profit that will supposedly benefit anti-violence programs (along with things like resources for mental health and addiction treatment)?
In fact, while the entirety of San Jose’s new gun control scheme is constitutionally suspect, the idea that the city could force gun owners to pay money to a private entity is particularly troubling. What’s stopping San Jose from designating an outfit like Everytown for Gun Safety or Giffords as the third party through which gun owners’ money is funneled to various groups?
If there’s any doubt that San Jose’s new ordinance is unconstitutional, imagine what the courts would say about a city imposing insurance mandates and requiring payment from all those who don’t own a gun. There are several cities, including Kennesaw, Georgia, that require residents to own firearms, but those ordinances are largely symbolic and have no real enforcement mechanism, unlike San Jose’s ordinances.
Maybe that will change now that San Jose has decided to impose financial burdens and red tape mandates on legal gun owners. I suppose it’s possible that we’ll start to see red-state communities penalize those who aren’t exercising their Second Amendment rights as a reaction to San Jose’s new ordinances, though I don’t think those laws would any more constitutionally valid than the gun control measures adopted by the San Jose city government. Who knows, though. Before too long we could see both extremes on the books and facing court challenges.
What I’m really hoping will happen is that a federal judge will grant an injunction blocking enforcement of San Jose’s new provisions while the lawsuits play out, the Ninth Circuit does the right thing and invalidates the law, and the Supreme Court leaves the lower court’s decision intact.
Relying on the Ninth Circuit to actually recognize the validity of the Second Amendment is a dicey proposition, even when it comes to measures that are clear infringements on the right to keep and bear arms, but if the Ninth Circuit gets this one wrong, gun owners are going to have keep their fingers crossed that the Supreme Court will step in and eventually set things right.
Be sure to check out the entire conversation with Mark Walters in the video window above, and if you’re not already listening to Armed American Radio on a regular basis, be sure to tune in right here.