In what could become a trend for cities impact by mass shootings, Sam Liccardo, the mayor of San Jose – where 19-year-old Santino William Legan killed 3 (including 2 children) and wounded 16 others at the Gilroy Garlic Festival last month – has proposed a new city ordinance that would require firearm owners to either carry liability insurance or pay a fee to help cover the public costs of gun violence, Axios reports
San Jose, the tenth-largest city in the country, is the first to propose a “harm reduction” reduction policy aimed at stopping gun violence (though whether these measures will definitively end gun violence very much remains to be seen).
If the city council approves the measure, all gun owners in the city will need to purchase private liability insurance. If for whatever reason gun owners can’t purchase said equipment, they could instead pay the above-mentioned fee, which would go into a pool intended to cover the costs of police and emergency services personnel related to gun violence.
Adding a characteristically Silicon Valley twist, to protect the privacy of gun owners, the city is considering using blockchain technology to get around a state law prohibiting local governments from establishing gun registries (we’re sure all of the libertarian crypto nerds would love to see that).
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo
In an interview with Axios, Liccardo said insurance can incentivize safe behavior and discourage risky behavior.
“Those are all decisions that are influenced in different ways by price signals in the insurance markets,” he said. “In many cases we can say insurance has saved thousands of lives because drivers recognize, for example, the benefit of having a discount for an airbag.”
Liccardo said his plan is an attempt to “try to find ways we can reduce the harm of gun violence without infringing on recognized Second Amendment rights.”
Proposing liability insurance for gun owners isn’t anything new: In the past, these proposals have been unsuccessfully pitched at both the national and the state level.
Opponents say requiring liability coverage would infringe on Second Amendment rights by creating a new financial burden for gun-owners (Licccardo disagrees). The insurance industry has argued that insurance shouldn’t apply to intentional criminal behavior.
But Liccardo said the public safety and health arguments should ultimately trump these concerns, since the state already taxes risky behaviors like smoking. And, of course, automobile insurance is a thing. As Liccardo envisions it, his proposal would see insurance provide coverage for accidental discharge of the gun, and for theft of firearms. .
He’s already starting conversations with California mayors and state legislators, despite the fact that the city council has yet to approve the plan. Though, in deep blue Northern California, we’d wager it has a very high chance of passing.
The only question is, will more moderate cities like Dayton, Ohio, the location of one of last week’s shootings follow suit?