Just five weeks after last month’s massacre at a San Jose light-rail yard that left nine people dead, the city has taken unprecedented gun-control action.
In a unanimous vote Tuesday night, San Jose’s city council approved a national first that will see gun owners being forced to compensate taxpayers for the spiraling costs of gun violence. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, gun owners in California’s third-largest city will be required to take out liability insurance for their firearms, and pay an annual tax that will help fund emergency responses to gun-related calls.
In a news release ahead of Tuesday night’s vote, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said: “While the Second Amendment protects the right to bear arms, it does not require taxpayers to subsidize gun ownership... We won’t magically end gun violence, but we stop paying for it. We can also better care for its victims, and reduce gun-related injuries and death.”
The vote came one month after 57-year-old Valley Transportation Authority employee Samuel Cassidy carried out the worst mass shooting in Bay Area history. On May 26, Cassidy shot nine of his colleagues dead and then, when the police showed up, he turned the gun on himself. After the shooting, investigators found rifles, shotguns, handguns, and around 25,000 rounds of ammunition at the gunman’s home.
According to the Chronicle, the exact details of the gun tax are yet to be worked out. City officials haven’t decided exactly how much they’ll charge gun owners each year as the cost will be determined after an academic study calculates how much gun violence costs the city. The mayor’s office recently estimated its costs at around $442 million every year.
The move is expected to face legal challenges from gun-rights groups.
ABC7 reported that the Sacramento-based Firearms Policy Coalition already announced plans to sue the city, but Mayor Liccardo sounded optimistic that his proposals will stand. “I’m confident that we’re on the right side of the Constitution,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of smart attorneys that have been working with us, and a lot of organizations.”
The new financial measures are the second round of gun-control proposals enacted since last month’s mass shooting. Two weeks ago, San Jose officials also passed a law that requires gun retailers to record all firearm purchases on camera in order to make gun owners easier to trace.
Liccaro celebrated the new vote in a tweet on Tuesday night, writing: “This is a landmark decision for taking action against gun violence.”