Lawsuit Threatened Over San Jose Gun Control Law

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

The city of San Jose, California thinks that it’s not a handle on its gun violence problem. Or, they’re confident they do, at least. After all, requiring a fee in order to own a gun and mandating insurance for gun owners is something anti-gunners have said for a while would reduce so-called gun violence.

While I’m doubtful any such thing will happen, there’s one result we know is going to take place. We know there are going to be lawsuits over this measure.

And one national group has stepped up and issued its warning.

A national gun rights group sent San Jose city leaders a cease-and-desist letter on Wednesday, just two weeks after the city council approved calling for an annual gun fee and mandating gun liability insurance.

The letter from the National Foundation for Gun Rights, sent to Mayor Sam Liccardo and council members, puts the city on notice that the group will sue if the city moves forward with plans for a citywide gun ordinance.

The organization is the legal division of the National Association for Gun Rights, a Second Amendment advocacy group that considers itself the “conservative alternative” to the National Rifle Association.

The foundation maintains the city would violate the Second Amendment by imposing a tax on “a select group of law-abiding citizens” exercising their right to keep and bear arms.

“A right that you have to pay a tax to exercise is not a right at all,” said Hannah Hill, spokesperson for the foundation. “You would not dream of imposing a tax to attend a church or to disseminate or read a newspaper which are protected by the First Amendment.”

Executive Director Dudley Brown called the ordinance a “full-frontal assault” on gun owners “by the gun control zealots running the city of San Jose.” The foundation sees the ordinance as unfair to law-abiding citizens, Brown said.

Plus, let’s face it, the insurance doesn’t seem to exist.

This won’t be the only potential lawsuit coming down the pipe. Pretty much every gun-rights group that can find a way to have standing will jump knee-deep into this one. Hell, don’t be surprised if new gun rights groups form just to jump on San Jose over this.

After all, as Hill notes, if you have to pay a tax for a right, it’s not really a right. That’s why poll taxes are unconstitutional and I can’t imagine the legal challenge over this actually working out for San Jose.

How bad do I figure it will be? Well, I wouldn’t be surprised if an en banc review of the measure by the Ninth Circuit actually comes down and hammers San Jose. Yeah, this might even be too far for them.

What Liccardo and company are doing is tantamount to a backdoor gun ban. After all, charging a tax will keep the poorest in San Jose from being able to exercise the right at all. The fact that the required insurance doesn’t exist will likely keep the rest from being able to exercise it either.

Hence, lawsuits.

I don’t know how or why Liccardo and his buddies on the city council figure this is a winning measure, but they do. They apparently figure they can get away with this and survive legal challenges when it’s all said and done. Otherwise, it’s unlikely they’d try it. Yet only a fool would think there wouldn’t be challenges, and while I figure Liccardo is a bit of a fool, he’s not that big of one.

This won’t be the only challenge and the city of San Jose is going to foot the bill for the defense of the law for all of them, only to find out at the end of the day that the Second Amendment isn’t a second-class right.

Let’s just hope for everyone’s sake they learn the lesson quickly.