Proposing ineffective and unconstitutional firearms restrictions following a mass murder has become a tradition in major American cities. This time, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo is proposing two draconian new measures following an attack in his city that left nine people dead.
Liccardo is planning to ask the city council to back a proposal that would require all gun owners to purchase liability insurance and pay an annual fee, and mandate that gun stores video record firearm purchases. The mayor believes gun-related violence and mass murders are the result of the “system that we have created,” and he aims to change that system in his city.
“What we are proposing are initiatives that have not been tried before in recognition that what has been tried and implemented hasn’t done enough,” Liccardo told The Mercury News. “People may believe that gun violence is unpredictable and irrational, but in fact, it is a result of the system that we have created and it will continue to be that result until we change that system.”
California gun rights groups have criticized the ruling as government overreach. Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, called the proposed ordinance a “knee jerk reaction” that will not solve the problem Liccardo is trying to address, adding that the mayor would “have his rear end handed to him in a basket by a judge.”
“We are genuinely startled that the mayor believes that he has the ability to implement laws that he doesn’t have authority to do and the courts will soon follow,” Paredes told Mercury News.
It’s unclear how Liccardo’s plan would stop future mass murders or any other type of gun-related crime. Liability insurance cannot legally cover the commission of a crime. It would only cover unintentional firearms-related deaths, injuries or property damage, but the mayor has not indicated that such costs are a major problem in his city.
The annual fee, which Liccardo described as “modest” but has not named yet, would help the city cover emergency responses to shootings, medical care, and related services.
“Insurance can provide a useful mechanism for harm reduction,” Liccardo wrote in a 2019 op-ed. “Risk-adjusted premiums provide financial incentives that reward good driving and installing air bags, and discourage parents from handing the keys to their risk-taking teenagers. Similarly, insurers could use premium discounts to prod law-abiding gun owners to take gun-safety courses, purchase gun safes and install child-safety locks.”
“Insurers would also hike the premium on a 19-year-old looking to buy his first semiautomatic weapon,” Liccardo added.
Gun stores are already required to take strict safety measures to secure their inventory, but Liccardo wants to add to their regulatory burden. Under his plan, store owners would be required to video record every gun purchase to discourage straw buying.
Chicago enacted a similar law in 2014, but there is no evidence the policy reduced crime or violence.
Neither proposal would have stopped the most recent mass murder in San Jose. The suspect legally owned all three handguns he used in the crime, and he had no criminal record.