San Jose City Council unanimously approves gun violence reduction initiatives

San Jose's City Council heard public comment and debated for more than two hours Tuesday night on a gun violence reduction ordinance. Ultimately the council unanimously approved the gun violence reduction initiative. 

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said the initiative included two first-of-its kind proposals: "mandatory gun insurance, and mandatory gun ownership fees." 

The second proposal makes it so gun users pay a fee that would be used to offset costs of responding to gun incidents.

"The City council agreed that while the Second Amendment protects the rights of Americans to own guns, it doesn’t require taxpayers to subsidize gun ownership. This is a landmark decision for taking action against gun violence," Liccardo tweeted. 

At the virtual city council meeting, community members spoke out for and against the proposals.

The proposal comes one month after a VTA employee opened fire at the transit yard, killing nine people.

The city council reviewed a study by the Pacific Institute on Research and Evaluation that found taxpayers ended up paying some $39 million to cover the costs of about 205 incidents of gun violence in San Jose every year between 2013 and 2019.

Some community members said a gun owner fee is unfair. 

"I strongly oppose more taxation on legal gun owners. Each time a gun owner buys ammunition, they pay an 11% tax, plus a background check fee," said Sasha Sherman of San Jose.

Another public commenter said the new initiative puts a financial burden on the constitutional right to bear arms.

City council members debated whether retired law enforcement officers or law-abiding gun owners should be exempt. David Cohen, city councilmember representing District 4, said everyone should be included in a public safety proposal.

The council has asked staff to have the laws written by September for a final vote.

Another law, which was passed two weeks ago, takes effect in September. That law requires gun store owners to have video and audio recordings of every gun purchase.