San Jose approves 1st U.S. law requiring liability insurance for gun owners

A man holds a gun.
A man holds a gun. Scott Olson/Getty Images

With a vote of 8-3, the city council in San Jose, California, passed a city ordinance Tuesday night that requires gun owners to carry liability insurance and pay an annual fee.

This is the first measure of its kind passed in the United States, according to Brady United. The council will do a final "reading" of the bill in February, with it expected to become law in August. Already, several gun rights organizations have said they will sue to stop the measure from taking effect.

There are 55,000 homes in San Jose that have at least one registered gun, CBS News reports. The liability insurance would cover losses or damages stemming from the accidental use of a gun, including death or injury. The annual fee, which would likely be $25, would go to "harm-reduction" programs for domestic violence, mental health, and suicide prevention services, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement.

During Tuesday's city council meeting, Councilmember Raul Peralez said one of his childhood friends was shot and killed last year, and Councilmember Sergio Jimenez called gun violence "a scourge on our society." Critics of the law told the council that the measure "does nothing to reduce crime" and taxes "a constitutional right," KPIX reports.

Liccardo said he knows the law "won't stop mass shootings and keep bad people from committing violent crime," but most of the nation's gun deaths are from other causes, including suicide and accidental shootings. He said he believes the measure puts the city on "a constitutionally compliant path to mitigate the unnecessary suffering from gun harm in our community."

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