San Jose Mayor Pushes "Gun Liability Insurance" Nonsense

It’s been a little while since the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting. In fact, it’s been long enough that many of us don’t really think much about that incident. It didn’t have a high body count, thankfully, and it was soon eclipsed by other, more horrific shootings.

Yet some of the idiotic ideas that sprung up during the aftermath of that shooting haven’t gone away.

In particular, the scheme devised by San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

A year after a gunman opened fire at the beloved Gilroy Garlic Festival, killing two San Jose children, little progress has been made on San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo’s plan for first-of-its-kind measure to curb gun violence.

The mayor’s proposed ordinance, which he unveiled just two weeks after the shooting in late July 2019, would require gun owners in the nation’s 10th largest city to either carry liability insurance or pay a fee to cover taxpayer costs — such as emergency response and medical care — associated with gun violence.

Liccardo’s novel idea gained widespread national media attention at the time — from the New York Times to CNN to the Washington Post. But just as episodes of gun violence can quickly fall from the news cycle and the public eye, in some ways, so has the mayor’s proposal.

Over the past year, staff in the mayor’s office have been working with representatives from the Giffords Law Center to understand the legal parameters of such an ordinance and acquire funding. But when the COVID-19 pandemic struck the region five months ago, work on the ordinance came to a screeching halt.

But that doesn’t mean the plan, itself, is dead. Oh no, it’s still very much alive.

However, there are questions that Liccardo needs to answer. In particular, just how this doesn’t become the Second Amendment equivalent of a poll tax?

See, I remember when the state of Georgia started requiring picture ID to vote. A lawsuit was filed at it was determined that the law was unconstitutional. Not because you can’t require a state-issued ID for voting, but because people had to pay for the ID. The court ruled that the fee amounted to a poll tax.

The state then started issuing free photo IDs–not driver’s licenses, just identification cards–and all was well with the requirement.

Yet Liccardo trying to force gun owners to pay a fee or purchase a product in order to exercise a constitutionally-protected right is likely to spark significant legal challenges. In fact, I can guarantee that it will.

While California is pretty anti-gun, including most of its federal judges, the truth is that this one doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room. Sooner or later, it’s probably going to be struck down.

I don’t think Liccardo cares, though. In fact, I suspect he knows that’s a strong possibility.

Instead, I think he’s using this as a springboard for higher office. San Jose may be the tenth-largest city in the nation, but it’s not one of those cities you can jump from the mayor’s office to national politics. It ain’t New York, after all.

So, Liccardo is pushing this to raise his profile with the national party. Maybe he wants to translate this into a senatorial campaign or governorship. It doesn’t matter, though, because for it to accomplish these possible goals, he’s got to implement it.

Folks in San Jose? You might want to start vetting attorneys.