Local support for San Jose's new gun laws surprisingly weak

Photo Courtesy of the National Shooting Sports Foundation

The mandatory insurance requirement and annual fee that San Jose gun owners will have to pay starting in August of this year has already come under some criticism from some surprising quarters, with CNN and the gun control website The Trace both publishing pieces this week that say the new ordinances will have far less of an impact than what supporters like San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo have claimed.

Now a new poll of San Jose residents suggests that the new measures aren’t all that popular inside the city itself.

Voters said they believe the measure is constitutional by a 54 to 46 percent margin. But an even greater number of respondents said they wished that the measure did not exclude low-income gun owners or people who have obtained a permit to possess a concealed weapon.

Almost half of all participants said they regard the measure as perhaps the mayor’s greatest political legacy. Almost half also indicated that they believe the fee should be much greater than the $25 to $35 per year envisioned by the measure’s supporters.

But virtually every respondent raised some objection to the measure. Many voters liked the insurance but not the fee, while others held the opposite position. Even more voters objected to the city’s plan to have the program administered by a still-to-be-created nonprofit organization instead of the City of San Jose.

Now, there’s one big caveat to these numbers. The poll was conducted by the website San Jose Spotlight, and the media outlet acknowledges that it is not a scientific poll. Instead, it surveys “influential people with a wide range of viewpoints to help advance informed dialogue about the city.”

Honestly, given who was actually responding to the poll, I would have thought support for the new law would have been much higher than 54%, though I suppose that whether or not a respondent believes the law is constitutional isn’t a perfect barometer of whether or not they actually think the law will do any good. And given that more people said the law should not have exempted low-income and the handful of concealed carry licensees in the city, it looks like the new ordinances are supported even by some residents who view the ordinance as unconstitutional to begin with.

But as the San Jose Spotlight says, even those who support the ordinances have problems with it. For some, the measure doesn’t go far enough, but the fact that the annual fee legal gun owners are supposed to pay is going to a third party, which will distribute the funds without any say or oversight on the part of the city appears to be drawing objections from both supporters and opponents of the new ordinance.

It also appears that there’s some cognitive dissonance at work among the city’s “influential people,” or at least the ones participating in this survey. Beyond quizzing respondents about San Jose’s new gun laws, the poll also asked this question:

Last summer, Democratic consultant James Carville said “wokeness is a problem and everyone knows it.” His concern was that “woke” urban progressives are talking about race, gender, law enforcement and other topics in ways that will alienate moderate voters essential to political victory. Do you agree?

Now, in a Bay Area city like San Jose, I would have thought that most respondents would have disagreed with Carville’s diagnosis. Instead, 70% of those “influential” citizens surveyed by the San Jose Spotlight concurred with what the Democrat strategist had to say. I find that remarkable, especially since Mayor Liccardo’s mandated insurance requirement and annual fee for legal gun owners is the epitome of anti-gun wokeness.

Does any of this actually matter? After all, it’s not like the city council is going to reverse its decision based on one unscientific poll, though the San Jose Spotlight’s Stephen Buel says he wouldn’t be surprised to see the city council “revisit” the ordinances based on the lukewarm support and the legal efforts to overturn the new regulations.

Merely modifying the ordinances isn’t likely to get gun owners and 2A groups on board, and discontented progressives don’t appear to be in agreement as to what changes they’d like to see. My guess is that the ordinances will take effect later this year without any major changes, and if these new rules are tossed aside, it will come as the result of San Jose gun owners and Second Amendment organizations challenging the law in court rather than the San Jose city council and Mayor Liccardo seeing the light or feeling the heat from residents.