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Gun insurance would become compulsory under proposed California city law

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Tens of thousands of people die in the United States every year after being shot./AFP
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Jan 26, 2022 - 07:36 AM

LOS ANGELES — Gun owners would be compelled to take out insurance to cover any damage caused by their weapon, under a law being debated Tuesday in one California city.

The planned ordinance will also require that they pay an annual fee that will fund a non-profit group to help victims of gun violence.

The law, which is expected to go to its first vote in San Jose on Tuesday, is intended both to reduce the harm caused by firearms and to cut down the costs to taxpayers.

“We have seen how insurance has reduced auto fatalities over several decades, for example, by incentivizing safer driving and the purchase of cars equipped with airbags and antilock brakes,” Mayor Sam Liccardo said.

“Similarly, gun liability insurance available today on the market can adjust premiums to encourage gun owners to use gun safes, install trigger-locks, and take gun safety classes.”

Guns abound in the United States, where around 40 percent of adults live in a gun-owning household, according to the Pew Research Center.

Almost 23 million firearms were sold across the country in 2020 and 40,000 people die from gunshots annually.

Despite the horrific toll and the fact that a majority of Americans favor the tightening of gun control rules, repeated attempts to limit gun ownership have failed, with opponents arguing controls are an infringement of individual liberties.

A press release from San Jose city council said gun violence costs the city nearly $40 million a year, including for emergency police and medical response, health care, and investigations.

“While the Second Amendment protects every citizen’s right to own a gun, it does not require taxpayers to subsidize that right,” said Liccardo.

The $25 annual fee will help to fund programs aimed at reducing gun violence, as well as mental health counseling and addiction treatment.

The National Foundation for Gun Rights, an advocacy group, described the proposed law as “a blatantly unconstitutional scheme.”

“This is just as unthinkable as imposing a ‘free speech tax’ or a ‘church attendance tax.’

“The National Foundation for Gun Rights is preparing a lawsuit to challenge this gun ownership tax in federal district court.”

The ordinance must pass a second reading on February 8 before it becomes law in August.

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