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California mayor wants to force gun owners to carry liability insurance for their firearms

'Another tax on law-abiding gun owners'

emholk/Getty Images

The mayor of San Jose, California, on Monday announced a proposal to force gun owners to carry liability insurance on their firearms, according to KTVU-TV.

Under the proposal, all gun owners in the city would have to take out liability policies that would include coverage for accidental discharges as well as for actions taken by third parties who borrow, steal, or obtain the guns through other means.

"A mayor doesn't have the luxury of just offering 'thoughts and prayers,'" Mayor Sam Liccardo (D) told the TV station. "We have to solve problems. While this is far from a complete solution, it is something we can do to reduce the harms of firearms, without waiting for Congress to take action."

Two victims of the recent shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival were children from San Jose — 13-year-old Keyla Salazar, and 6-year-old Stephen Romero.

Liccardo called the idea a "harm reduction" approach meant to emulate other models already in effect.

"We require motorists to carry automobile insurance, and the insurance industry appropriately encourages and rewards safe driver behavior," Liccardo said. "We tax tobacco consumption both to discourage risky behavior and to make sure non-smokers are not forced to subsidize the substantial public health costs generated by smoking-related illnesses and deaths."

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) called the move "another tremendous step" in a Monday tweet.

"The costs of gun violence are far too high," Khanna continued. "If you need to have insurance to drive an automobile and follow safety guidelines, then why shouldn't you need insurance to operate and keep a gun safely[?]"

Opponents of the proposal see it as just another onerous burden on people legally exercising their Second Amendment rights.

City council member Johnny Khamis said the move "could be seen by gun owners who are doing everything legally as a punishment."

The National Rifle Association responded to the proposal as "another tax on law-abiding gun owners" in a statement.

"Criminals are already ignoring California's more than 800 gun laws," NRA spokesperson Amy Hunter told WTVD, "so it's doubtful many of them would rush out and get liability insurance."

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