January 28, 2022
By Mark Chesnut
The San Jose, California, City Council’s recent move to tax lawful gun owners and require them to carry liability insurance has many self-defense advocates and pro-gun organizations crying foul.
Split into two separate recommendations, the insurance requirement passed last week by a 10-to-1 margin, while the vote on the tax was 8-3—both despite public comments on the proposal running overwhelmingly negative. If the proposals are passed in a final council vote next month, gun owners would be charged an annual $25 fee and would be required to obtain liability insurance that would cover damage caused by their firearm.
While many on the anti-gun side reveled in the decision, others, including Houston-based U.S. Law Shield, were quick to voice their disapproval of the direct infringement on Second Amendment rights.
“It’s just part of a movement nationwide to incrementally try to make life harder for gun owners,” Kirk Evans, president of U.S. LawShield, said in an exclusive interview with Firearm News. “There are little municipal and local level changes being promoted all across the country, and once this gets enacted, the next step seems that much easier for these guys.
“I guarantee you next year it will be inflation/supply chain, we’re going to go up to $50. We’ll see where they go the year after that.”
Evans said it all comes down to the city council infringing on a constitutional right just because councilors don’t happen to appreciate that particular right.
“What if they charged protestors $50 to exercise their right of free speech?” Evans asked. “Nobody would ever go for taxing the right of free speech. But they picked the one right they didn’t like.”
As Evans pointed out, while many California cities are witnessing dramatic increases in violent crime rates, San Jose's murder rate has stayed constant and is significantly lower than the state's average for the past few years. That reinforces his belief that the move is nothing more than a legal gun owner tax.
“California cities and the state itself should be focusing on arresting criminals and keeping them in jail. Empowering legally armed citizens, not punishing them," Evans said.
As for the insurance requirement, Evans said there’s absolutely no reason to believe that criminals would abide by such regulations. And there are also other problems with the plan.
“The insurance they are requiring is liability insurance, which in California and most states will not cover an intentional criminal act in the first place,” he added. “So even though this was passed after the Santa Clara railyard mass shooting, this would have no impact whatsoever on deterring the criminal. And insurance wouldn’t have covered it in the first place.
“The other aspect is it’s not that easy to get an insurance policy passed and admitted, particularly in California, so we don’t know who’s going to offer the policies. The requirements start in 180 days, and it will be surprising if there is an insurer that even has a policy by then.”
And, of course, there’s also no reason to think that future action won’t make getting, keeping and affording the required insurance policy more and more difficult in order to further inconvenience lawful gun owners.
“Once the policies are in place, my guess is they will up the limits,” Evans concluded. “They’ll ratchet up the difficulty to get insurance, and the cost to get insurance. And also ratchet up the fees.”
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC. An avid hunter, shooter and political observer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for the past 20-plus years.