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San José to Become First U.S. City to Require Gun Owners Have Liability Insurance

San José to Become First U.S. City to Require Gun Owners Have Liability Insurance
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The epidemic of gun violence in the United States has stolen lives, devastated families, and traumatized countless people, but there's been virtually no federal intervention to curb this carnage, largely thanks to the gun lobby's grip on Congress.

But at the municipal level, the city of San José, California took an unprecedented step in the effort to reduce firearm fatalities.

This past Tuesday, the city council voted on an 8-3 margin to require gun owners to insure their weapons, in addition to paying a yearly harm reduction fee of $25 that goes toward funding gun violence reduction programs in the city.

The program is also expected to reduce the hundreds of millions in gun-related costs incurred by taxpayers every year, according to San José mayor Sam Liccardo, who said:

"Certainly, the Second Amendment protects every citizen's right to own a gun. It does not require taxpayers to subsidize that right."

The move comes about two and a half years after a mass shooting at the garlic festival in the neighboring town of Gilroy saw a 19 year old gunman kill three people.

Predictably, gun rights groups have leapt to decry the law, with the National Rifle Association (NRA) filing a lawsuit against the city, as did the National Association for Gun Rights, whose attorney, Harmeet Dhillon, warned that criminals wouldn't comply with the law.

Nevertheless, Americans weary of mass shootings and gun-related negligence supported the new law, which takes effect in August.

Others argued that San José is mandating insurance for a constitutional right, and that the law would negatively impact low-income gun owners.

There's lots of litigation ahead for this first-of-its-kind law.

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