Gun Owners in San Jose Need Insurance in 2023 – San Jose Spotlight – San Jose Spotlight | CarTailz

Gun owners in San Jose – prepare to comply with the city’s new gun ordinance in January.

Starting next year, all gun owners in San Jose will be required to have insurance that covers damage caused by firearms or accidental shooting. It’s part of the city’s new gun damage reduction ordinance — a controversial, unique law that aims to reduce gun incidents by requiring liability insurance and charging an annual fee from gun owners. The annual fees would be used to fund programs dedicated to suicide prevention, mental health and addiction services, as well as firearm safety training or victim compensation.

Households in San Jose with a firearm are required to have homeowners, renters, or firearms liability insurance for their firearms. The city is still drafting plans to collect the annual fee, which is tentatively set at $25. San Jose will begin raising once the city selects a nonprofit organization to manage the money.

Mayor Sam Liccardo, who drafted the policy, said it was a big step in making San Jose safer from gun violence. According to his office, more than 200 people are killed or injured by gunfire in San Jose every year. Fatal and nonfatal shootings involving San Jose residents cost $995 million in 2019-20, Liccardo said.

“Gun insurance encourages safer behavior,” Liccardo told San Jose Spotlight. “Just as drivers with car insurance received rebates on their premiums in the 1990s for having safe driving records, buying a car with anti-lock brakes, or buying a car with airbags in the 1980s, insurance companies can also encourage gun owners to take gun safety classes , make sure their guns have chamber loading indicators, buy gun safes, and get trigger locks.

How does it work?

A San Jose resident’s liability insurance must cover loss or damage resulting from the accidental use of a firearm, including but not limited to death, personal injury, or property damage. There is no mandatory minimum insurance.

“Firearm owners have the option of meeting liability insurance requirements through homeowners’ or renters’ insurance policies that provide liability coverage,” city spokeswoman Kristen Van Kley told the San Jose Spotlight. “Homeowner and renter insurance is widely available with many different insurers in California.”

Gun owners must complete an insurance certification form and have a valid policy by January 1st. The form must also be with the gun at all times as proof of compliance. If a firearm is discovered without the form, it will trigger a police report and may result in administrative subpoenas, with charges starting at $250.

According to city documents, the only gun owners in San Jose who are exempt from compulsory insurance are police officers and those with concealed carry permits. Low-income gun owners can apply for an exemption.

“There should be little burden for gun owners since most home and rental insurance policies already cover the benefits required by law, or the policyholder can purchase a rider for free or at little cost,” Liccardo said. “Gun owners only have to confirm that they have such insurance.”

But the issue of coverage can be more complicated. Council members Maya Esparza and Dev Davis previously said most insurance agencies they spoke to told them only accidental layoffs outside of a household could potentially be covered. negligence or criminal conduct.

“I’ve spoken to two insurance agents, including my own, from different companies, and neither of them said that the use of negligence is specifically covered in their policies,” Davis said. “I’m still not sure how we can require a specific type of insurance that doesn’t exist.”

Why now?

Liccardo originally proposed the idea after filming the 2019 Gilroy Garlic Festival, which resulted in the deaths of three children. Things stalled when COVID-19 struck in March 2020, but Liccardo brought the idea back in May 2021 after the mass shooting at the VTA city train station in downtown San Jose. The ordinance passed almost unanimously in February and garnered support from groups like Moms Demand Action and other organizations campaigning for gun reform.

The ordinance was also highly controversial. Its implementation was delayed as the city dealt with multiple lawsuits from gun rights activists and taxpayer associations. In August, a federal judge ruled not to block San Jose’s gun law, allowing the city to proceed with enforcement. So far, the court has dismissed nine of the 10 lawsuits filed by two litigants, and a third plaintiff withdrew his lawsuit, according to Liccardo.

However, San Jose is not out of the woods yet. Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, said his organization and a coalition of Second Amendment proponents plan to sue the city once the law is implemented. They oppose the ordinance because it violates their right to bear arms by putting up barriers and requiring gun owners to pay to use that right. He also said he believes gun insurance will have “zero impact” on gun violence reduction.

“This law simply will not prevent criminal abuse,” Paredes said. “What it will do is make it a little more difficult and awkward for some of the people in the lower-income areas of San Jose — those people who live where crime is more prevalent — to own a gun.”

Contact Jana Kadah at [email protected] or @Jana_Kadah on Twitter.

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