California

What Constitution? California city to require gun owners to carry insurance and pay annual fee

What Constitution? California city to require gun owners to
carry insurance and pay annual fee 1

SAN JOSE, CA – In a direct challenge to the Second Amendment, San Jose voted Tuesday night to become the first authority in the country to require gun owners to carry liability insurance and pay an annual fee.

Members of the San Jose City Council voted overwhelmingly in favor of a gun-ownership ordinance Tuesday night.

If the measure is passed again after a second reading next month, as expected, the fees imposed on the roughly 50,000 gun-owning households in the city of more than one million residents could take effect in August.

Mayor Sam Liccardo (D) said Monday at a news conference:

“Certainly, the Second Amendment protects every citizen’s right to own a gun. It does not require taxpayers to subsidize that right.’

After passage of the first vote, the mayor praised the ordinance:

“Tonight, San Jose became the first city in the United States to enact an ordinance to require gun owners to purchase liability insurance, and to invest funds generated from fees paid by gun owners into evidence-based initiatives to reduce gun violence and gun harm.

“Thank you to my council colleagues who continue to show their commitment to reducing gun violence and its devastation in our community.”

The mayor estimated that San Jose residents incur about $442 million in gun-related costs each year, and compared the plan to car insurance mandates, which he credits with significantly reducing deaths resulting from automobile crashes.

Under the new ordinance, gun owners would be required to pay a $25 annual fee for the right to bear arms. The fee would be directed to a nonprofit set up to distribute funds to gun crime prevention and gun violence victims.

City officials say the annual “harm reduction fee” will go toward the cost of nonprofits that would help run programs to reduce gun violence, as well as to provide gun safety training, mental health counseling and addiction treatment.

In addition to requiring a fee to exercise their constitutional rights, gun owners would be required to carry liability insurance to cover any harm caused by the firearm.

The mayor said:

“We’re the urban center of Silicon Valley. And the spirit of Silicon Valley recognizes the importance and imperative of innovation when confronted with daunting challenges.”

Billy Rosen, managing director for state policy and government affairs at Everytown for Gun Safety, which advocates stricter gun control laws, told The New York Times:

“It’s certainly not unheard-of to have reoccurring fees associated with gun ownership and possession. But the specific mechanics of this may be unique.

“We’ll be eagerly following to see how this plays out.”

The National Association for Gun Rights and San Jose gunowner Mark Sikes filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday night arguing that the ordinance is unconstitutional and violates both state and city laws.

At a press conference Wednesday, the president of the association, Dudley Brown, said the lawsuit would be successful in stopping the unconstitutional legislation:

“We filed this immediately because we wanted to make it very clear that there are ramifications to passing America’s most insane gun control.

“Frankly, we didn’t have enough paper to print all of the problems with this ordinance.”

The city plans to use the nonprofit to send out letters to registered gun owners who live in San Jose asking them to pay the annual fee. Once a payment is made, the nonprofit will send the gunowner a form with their proof of payment and a space on the form to fill out their insurance information.

Gun owners will be required to carry or store a copy of the paperwork with their firearm, according to the mayor. Police officers would be tasked with enforcement and would ask for proof of insurance, as they do with car insurance during traffic stops.

Police officers and low-income residents facing financial hardships will receive exemptions.

Critics of the plan say the ordinance violates the United States Constitution and punishes law-abiding citizens while having no effect on unlawful possession and use of firearms. Resident Cindy Fulk said:

“This movement attacking our Second Amendment (rights) arises when a mass shooting occurs, but San Jose had been unable to protect its citizens from these maddening criminals and is instead going after middle-class, law-abiding gun owners.

“Holding 55,000 gunowners responsible for the city’s failure to protect us is shameful.”

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Report: 9th Circuit Court rules that shut downs of gun stores and firing ranges violated Second Amendment rights

January 21, 2022

 VENTURA COUNTY, CA- On Thursday, January 20th, the Ninth Circuit federal appeals court ruled that the coronavirus lockdowns of gun stores in Ventura County, California violated constitutional rights. 

The case was appealed to the Ninth Circuit after the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California rejected a claim that Ventura’s County coronavirus orders closing gun stores, ammo shops, and gun ranges violated Second Amendment rights. 

A three-judge panel that included Judges Lawrence Vandyke and Andrew Kleinfeld, reversed the lower court. Vandyke and Kleinfeld wrote:

“Ultimately, the issue boils down to the County’s designation of ‘essential’ versus ‘non-essential’ businesses and activities. While courts should afford some measure of deference to local policy determinations, ‘the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table’ Heller, 554 U.S.”

They added:

“When a government completely bans all acquisition of firearms and ammunition by closing gun shops, ammunition shops, and firing ranges, it’s one of those off-limits policy choices squarely contemplated by Heller. See id. at 630. The Orders cannot satisfy strict scrutiny.”

The judges also noted:

“Not only did Appellees fail to provide any evidence or explanation suggesting that gun shops, ammunition shops, and firing ranges posed a greater risk of spreading COVID-19 than other businesses and activities deemed ‘essential,’ but they also failed to provide any evidence that they considered less restrictive alternatives for the general public.”

The Associated Press (AP) reported that Vandyke also wrote that the Second Amendment “means nothing if the government can prohibit all persons from acquiring any firearm or ammunition.” He added, “But that’s what happened in this case.”

He wrote that because buyers can obtain guns only by personally going to gun stores in California, Ventura County’s 48-day closure of gun shows, ammunition shops, and firing ranges “wholly prevented law-abiding citizens in the County from realizing their right to keep and bear arms.”

Michael Jean, director of the National Rifle Association’s office of Litigation Counsel, said that the court’s decision holds that governments “cannot use a crisis to trample on the Constitutional rights of citizens.” His office sued in the Los Angeles County case and in the Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, and San Mateo counties over their restrictions in Northern California.

Ventura County spokeswoman Ashley Bautista said in an email:

“Ventura County believes this case was correctly decided at the District Court level and is disappointed with the three-judge panel’s decision.”

She added that officials are reviewing the decision and “evaluating options and next steps.”

Judge Ryan Nelson was the panel’s dissenting voice. The case is McDougall v. County of Ventura, No. 20-562220 in the U.S. Court of Appeals in the Ninth Circuit.

Firearms Policy Coalition vice president of programs Adam Kraut said in a statement that the cases resulted “when authoritarian governments used COVID as an excuse to attack Second Amendment rights.” He said that the Ninth Circuit opinions “confirm our claims that the COVID closures of gun stores and firing ranges violated the Second Amendment rights of Californians.”

Reportedly, similar restrictions were imposed in 10 other states, including Connecticut, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, and Virginia.

Three gun-owner rights groups and several individuals and businesses had sought to overturn the lower court rulings in California.  

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