The San Jose City Council unanimously voted for a measure that would impose a yearly tax on gun owners, as well as additional insurance requirements. The council has asked staff to have the laws written by September for a final vote.
“The City council agreed that while the Second Amendment protects the rights of Americans to own guns, it doesn’t require taxpayers to subsidize gun ownership. This is a landmark decision for taking action against gun violence,” tweeted San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.
The council’s rationale is the cost of gun crime in the city. According to the Pacific Council on Research and Evaluation, which studied the issue and sent a representative to testify before the panel, gun-related incidents cost the city roughly $63 million every year in the way of paying for police officers, medics and other expenses.
The move comes just weeks after a disgruntled Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority employee shot and killed nine colleagues at a San Jose railyard. It was the deadliest mass shooting in bay area history.
Citizens spoke both in favor of and against the measure at the city’s virtual city council meeting. “I strongly oppose more taxation on legal gun owners. Each time a gun owner buys ammunition, they pay an 11% tax, plus a background check fee,” said Sasha Sherman of San Jose.
Another new law set to take effect in September will require gun retailers to have video and audio recordings of all gun purchases.
With no official state or federal gun registry, officials acknowledged that enforcement of this policy will be very difficult, if not impossible. This is why they have authorized law enforcement to confiscate weapons from those who have failed to comply. “Crooks aren’t going to follow this law,” Liccardo told reporters. “When those crooks are confronted by police and a gun is identified, and if they haven’t paid the fee or insurance, it’s a lawful basis for seizure of that gun.”