SAN JOSE, Calif. - In the wake of the VTA light rail yard mass shooting, San Jose’s mayor is revisiting the issue of reducing gun violence.
Mayor Sam Liccardo believes residents can’t wait for the federal or state government to act. So he’s proposing restrictions, believed to be the first in the nation, aimed at reducing the emotional and financial cost of gun violence.
"Our families feel the toll of gun violence every day and we need to take action," he said.
The mayor stood in front of a memorial for the VTA shooting victims on Tuesday where he recounted the 11 gun crimes in the city over the past two weeks. Then Liccardo, other elected leaders, and community stakeholders, made the push for change.
"Data and research shows that common sense public safety laws can reduce gun violence," said Yvonne Murray, a volunteer for the non-profit Moms Demand Action.
At the Jun. 16 city council Rules Committee, the mayor will propose an ordinance requiring gun owners to purchase liability insurance. And that they pay a registration fee to legally own a firearm in the City of San Jose. Liccardo also seeks a ban on the possession, assembly and manufacture of so-called ghost guns – weapons without traceable serial numbers.
"So we can use these approaches to mitigate gun harm as well. And we need to," said Liccardo. Added Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen, "All of these actions will save lives."
These proposed changes were first floated in 2019. At that time, the National Rifle Association sent an email to KTVU which read in part, "Criminals are already ignoring California’s more than 800 gun laws, so it’s doubtful many of them would rush out and get liability insurance… This (is) another tax on law-abiding gun owners."
"We already do pay for gun violence. It’s just a question of who picks up the tab?," said David Ball, a professor at the Santa Clara University School of Law. "It makes sense to me to remove the public funding of the social safety net as regards to the harms of gun violence rather than pick someplace else to do it. Like public schools."
City councilmembers said the mayor’s proposal is a first step toward creating a safer city.
"We can’t stop all the violence, all the gun violence. But we’re gonna do everything in our power to reduce gun violence in this city," said Chappie Jones, the District 1 councilman and the San Jose Vice Mayor.
Liccardo also wants San Jose and municipalities to join in calling for an injunction of a federal courts ruling last week removing California’s assault weapons ban.
If the mayor’s ordinance makes it out of the rules committee, it’ll go before the full council as early as June 23.