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August 4, 2022
Rachel Davis, Chief Communications Officer, Office of Mayor Sam Liccardo, email@example.com
SAN JOSÉ, CA – On Wednesday, a federal trial court denied an attempt from gun rights organizations to halt the implementation of San José's groundbreaking law requiring gun owners to obtain civil liability insurance, and to pay a fee to support gun violence-reduction programs. The San José City Council approved those measures in January of 2022, making it the first city, state, or jurisdiction of any kind to impose such a mandate on gun owners. Several similar proposals have emerged in other cities and states since San José's introduction of their measure.
U.S. District Court Judge Beth Labson Freeman issued a decision denying the gun organizations' motion to issue a preliminary injunction in this matter, holding at this early stage in the case, that the insurance requirement bears sufficient resemblance to 19th century surety laws as to satisfy the Supreme Court's standard for historic consistency, as articulated last month in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. The U.S. District Court also decided that the fee mandate was not yet ripe for review until the City sets the specific fee amount, yet the court's opinion indicated that the mere imposition of a fee itself does not run afoul of the Second Amendment, because– "the Supreme Court in Bruen expressly contemplated regulations that may permissibly include fee payments, so long as the fees were not so 'exorbitant [so as to] deny ordinary citizens their right to public carry.'"
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Tamarah Prevost, a partner with Cotchett, Pitre, & McCarthy, argued the motions for the City of San José. Ms. Prevost asserted that the court's order, "is a preliminary positive development, in that it prevents one gun rights group from immediately blocking San José's groundbreaking law. We will continue to defend the City on a pro bono basis against other attacks to this law, which we believe is firmly constitutional."
San José Mayor Sam Liccardo, who led the effort to propose and adopt these measures last year after extensive study and robust public debate, lauded the decision as an "important step forward for sensible gun regulation." Liccardo continued, "To confront the scourge of escalating gun violence in our nation, we need bolder, more impactful, and more creative solutions than the half-measures that have emerged from Congress. Cities have become the nation's laboratories of policy innovation, and we hope that our efforts will spur others to follow suit, and save lives."
"Our office drafted the ordinance based on the Council's direction and policy goals, mindful of the Constitutional and other legal issues. We appreciate the Court's guidance as the City develops implementing regulations," said City Attorney Nora Frimann, who drafted the measures, agreed with the District Court decision.
Liccardo and his Council colleagues proposed these measures as a means to reduce gun harm. Specifically, insurance would operate to compensate victims of unintentional shootings, while utilizing risk-adjusted insurance premiums to induce safer behavior among gun owners, such as using a gun safe, installing a trigger lock or chamber-load indicator, or taking gun safety courses. The fee requirement would support gun violence prevention programs, specifically supporting mental health counseling, suicide, and domestic violence prevention programs, and gun safety courses targeted at residents in gun-owning households, among other potential initiatives. No other city or state has yet implemented either of these types of interventions, but a gun liability insurance requirement has been previously proposed in several state legislatures—including recently in California--and Congress.
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The City expects the litigation to continue, as the City pursues a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which will be heard today at 9 a.m.
About the City of San José
With more than one million residents, San José comprises the 10th largest city in the United States, and one of its most diverse cities. San José's transformation into a global innovation center in the heart of Silicon Valley has resulted in the world's greatest concentration of technology talent and development.
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