A new lawsuit is looking to challenge San Jose’s pending gun insurance law, arguing that the law is forcing residents to pay fees against their will.
The city of San Jose, CA voted earlier this year to approve a law that requires residents to secure liability insurance for their firearms. Expected to take effect this coming August, the law will not only require gun-owning residents to purchase insurance, but also to pay a fee of between $25 and $35. This fee will be collected and managed by a nonprofit organization, which will distribute the funds to suicide-prevention programs, firearm safety training and gender-based violence services.
But taxpayer organizations Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the Silicon Valley Public Accountability Foundation, and the Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association are critical with the law’s fee requirement. Together with local residents James Barry and George Arrington, five organizations have filed a lawsuit in Santa Clara County Superior Court last week, The Mercury News reported.
While this is not the first time San Jose’s gun insurance law faced a legal challenge – the National Association for Gun Rights immediately launched its own lawsuit after San Jose City Council passed the legislation in January – Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association director of legal affairs Tim Bittle explained that this new lawsuit has nothing to do with the Second Amendment.
“Our interest is not in the right to own guns,” said Bittle. “But we’re very concerned about the potential precedent that could be set by this unusual requirement that gun owners pay a fee to a private nonprofit organization, which then has control of how the revenue of the fee gets spent.”
In the lawsuit, the organizations claimed that the insurance law’s fee is more of a tax. It goes on to argue that taxes require two-thirds voter approval by the California Constitution. The organizations also maintain that the legislation violates free speech rights, since gun owners are required to pay a nonprofit - whose message may be against their will.
Mayor Sam Liccardo issued a statement in response to the lawsuit, saying that “no good deed goes unlitigated.” Liccardo also indicated that he had expected legal challenges to the law, but the city has “spent nearly two years in deep discussion with legal experts throughout the country” and locally about how San Jose could create an ordinance that would be constitutional and enforceable and would help reduce gun risk violence in the community.
A representative for the mayor confirmed with The Mercury News that the city was served the lawsuit yesterday afternoon.