politics

San Jose Looks to Curb Gun Violence With Insurance Mandate

San Jose could become the first city in the U.S. to implement a novel ordinance aimed at curbing gun violence: requiring gun owners to carry liability insurance.
"If we can require drivers to have car insurance, there is no reason why we can not have gun owners with insurance," the city's mayor, Sam Liccardo, told Cheddar.
The proposal, which Liccardo introduced last week, would mandate that firearm owners buy private insurance or pay a fee that would help fund the public cost of gun violence, such as police and first responders operations.
Liccardo's plan comes just weeks after a gunman killed three people, including two children, at a festival in Gilroy, California. Both children were residents of San Jose, which is just 30 miles north of Gilroy.
<i>Police escort people away from the Gilroy Garlic Festival following a deadly shooting on July 28. Photo Credit: Noah Berger/AP/Shutterstock</i>Police escort people away from the Gilroy Garlic Festival following a deadly shooting on July 28. Photo Credit: Noah Berger/AP/Shutterstock
Liccardo likens his insurance-or-fee mandate to other "harm reduction" strategies, such as insurance discounts for safe driving records and healthy lifestyle habits like not smoking.
"We know there are things that folks can do — including buying gun safes and getting guns with safety locks on them — that insurance companies can encourage," he said.
The proposal has been widely supported by other elected officials in the Bay Area.
"Since Trump and his Republican allies have abdicated their responsibility to address our country's gun violence crisis, cities and states must lead," Assemblymember David Chiu, a leading voice in Sacramento for stricter gun control, said in a statement.
Following the back-to-back mass shootings in Texas and Ohio earlier this month, President Trump did express a willingness to pursue increased background check legislation. Yet on Sunday, Trump appeared to back away from the issue, telling reporters that "people don't realize we have very strong background checks right now" and that he is "also very, very concerned with the Second Amendment."
Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna, whose district includes northern parts of the city, also backed the ordinance, saying on Twitter that "the costs of gun violence are far too high."
Gun related crimes in San Jose — the 10th largest city in the U.S. — have increased in recent years. In 2016, there were 367 reported robberies carried out with guns and 431 reported aggravated assault with guns, according to a county report. The figures are up from 259 and 238, respectively, in 2010.
The proposal is still pending a vote by the city council.
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