By a unanimous vote, the Executive Committee of the Libertarian Party of Santa Clara County has declared the party's opposition to a new gun ordinance being considered by the San Jose City Council.
The ordinance would require all gun owners in the city to pay for liability insurance and also pay a "harm reduction fee". Opponents note that complying with the first requirement may be impossible for most gun owners, as liability insurance with this kind of coverage is not a commonly available product. Even if it does become available, the price is not known, and might well be too high for many gun owners to afford.
The so-called "harm reduction fee" would in reality be yet another tax imposed by the city. Calling it a "fee" is misleading, since it would provide no benefit directly to the person paying it. It would, like any other tax, be taken by the city and used for other purposes, supposedly related to gun violence generally but not connected with any "harm" done by the particular tax payer. Even worse, this tax money would be passed on to a private non-governmental organization, with no control over how that organization spends the money.
Both the insurance premium and the tax would have a disproportionate effect on lower-income gun owners, who would effectively be prohibited by these costs from legally exercising their right to self-defense. Wealthy residents, on the other hand, would be better able to pay these additional costs, and still have the option of owning a gun.
Critics also point out that the ordinance raises constitutional questions. Lawsuits by gun-rights organizations are likely, which would mean additional legal expenses for the city, a cost that would be borne by city taxpayers, whether they own guns or not.
The City Council will be considering this ordinance at a meeting on Tuesday, 25 January starting at 1:30pm. More information about how you can help fight this proposal, including by speaking at this meeting, can be found on the information page provided by the Golden State Second Amendment Council.