SAN JOSE, Calif., Jan 26 (Reuters) – Gun owners in San Jose, California, would be required to carry insurance coverage for their weapons and pay an annual “harm reduction” fee under a newly approved city ordinance believed to be the first of its kind in the United States.
The measure, backed on an 8-3 vote on Tuesday night by the City Council for the state’s third most populous municipality, brought an immediate court challenge from national gun rights advocates.
The bill is subject to a final “reading” by the council next month, a step considered largely perfunctory, before it becomes law. Once passed, it would take effect in August.
Even before Tuesday’s approval, the ordinance was singled out by gun rights proponents as a new flashpoint in the national debate between advocates for tougher firearms regulation and those for the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
The measure would require city residents owning guns to obtain special liability insurance covering losses and damages stemming from negligent or accidental use of their weapons.
City gun owners would also have to pay a small annual fee earmarked for evidence-based “harm-reduction” programs aimed at reducing gun violence, suicide, domestic abuse and other firearm-related risks, the city said in a statement explaining the bill.
“We are seeing an epidemic of violence and harm from the use of guns in cities throughout the country, and San Jose is no exception,” Mayor Sam Liccardo told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday. “We are tired of waiting for Congress to act.”
San Jose, in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley south of San Francisco, is the first U.S. municipality to adopt such an ordinance, he said. Opponents said they feared the measure could set a precedent for other cities.