Gun owners in San Jose, California, will soon face annual taxes and are required to carry additional insurance after their city council voted unanimously Tuesday night to enact the new measures.
The future costs of gun ownership in the city have not been determined, but officials say anyone found disobedient has their guns confiscated.
The city council’s goal is to try to recoup the costs of responding to gun incidents such as shootings and deaths. According to the Pacific Research and Evaluation Council, which studied the matter and sent a representative to testify before the panel, gun-related incidents cost the city an estimated $63 million annually in paying police officers, medical personnel, and other costs, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The new measures come just weeks after a disgruntled Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority employee was shot dead and killed nine of his colleagues on the San Jose railroad.
CALIFORNIA’S STRICT GUN LAW CAN’T STOP SAN JOSE GUNMAN
San Jose-based Fox 2 reported that residents were considering the proposal, with some praising the council for the move and others condemning the move as unconstitutional.
“I strongly oppose a bigger tax on legal gun owners,” San Jose resident Sasha Sherman told the council. “Every time a gun owner buys ammunition, they pay an 11% tax, plus a background check fee.”
Another speaker argued, “This places a financial burden on the constitutional right, namely the right to bear arms.”
While the board is directing staff to draft legislation for a late September vote, the dollar amount for the new tax on gun owners has yet to be determined. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo suggested the new annual fine would likely be “a few dozen dollars,” and claimed insurance companies convinced the city that adding gun liability coverage to existing policies would hurt affected residents little or nothing.
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But without official registers of gun owners both locally and federally, officials acknowledge that enforcing the forthcoming tax and insurance requirements could be difficult if not impossible. So they said they would authorize law enforcement officials to confiscate firearms from any gun owner they find that does not provide evidence that they have complied.
“Criminals will not follow these laws,” Liccardo told reporters. “When the criminals are confronted by the police and a gun is identified, and if they have not paid fees or insurance, that is a valid basis for confiscation of the weapon.”