Nearly 1.2 million law-abiding Californians bought a firearm in 2020 and the ranks of gun-owning Golden Staters has grown even more in 2021. They had good reasons but their purchases may now cost some even more.
Gun control cheerleaders and their media allies are heralding a new “innovative” achievement as a shining example city officials in San Jose, Calif., believe is needed to offset the costs of criminal violence. That focus is entirely misplaced. They just want to impose a new “gun ownership” tax and require already law-abiding gun owners to purchase liability insurance just to exercise their Constitutionally-protected Second Amendment right. The plan has nothing to do with stopping criminals that commit crimes.
CNN commentators latched on to the idea once they heard the proposal had passed. Reciting San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo’s words, CNN’s John Avlon said, “Skeptics will say that criminals won’t comply. They’re right. Yet that’s an important feature of these proposals.” He added, “It’s always good to see innovative public policy proposals.”
Golden State Gun Grab
The Golden State already imposes among the strictest gun control in the country. San Jose City Council one-upped it, unanimously passing an annual gun ownership tax and requiring all gun owners to acquire gun owner liability insurance. The tax proposal passed even though the tax amount hasn’t been decided.
San Jose residents bristled. “I strongly oppose more taxation on legal gun owners,” Sasha Sherman told the council. Another speaker added, “It [the proposal] puts a financial burden on a constitutional right, which is the right to bear arms.”
Mayor Liccardo recognized the financial impact the new tax, fees and insurance requirements may have on gun-owning residents. Mayor Liccardo dowplayed fines as “a couple dozen dollars,” and claimed insurance providers promised policy increases would be minimal.
Here’s the kicker; Anyone found to be out of compliance or with outstanding fines will have their firearms confiscated.
Mayor Liccardo knows this isn’t a crime prevention measure. He admitted it. “Crooks aren’t going to follow this law.”
Meanwhile, criminals breaking the law and committing firearm-related crimes cost the city upwards of $63 million. The city’s answer is to target those gun owners that follow the law.
What’s a Couple Dozen Dollars?
NSSF industry data revealed the average gun buyer in 2020 spent close to $600 on average for their firearm. San Jose gun owners are being forced to pay even more just to exercise a Constitutionally-protected right. It’s a dressed-up poll tax and it is absurd.
That’s the point for the San Jose City Council. The punitive tax doesn’t affect them. It’s about making the circumstances harder for people to practice the Second Amendment and another example of “enlightened elites” pushing their gun control on everyone else.
In San Jose, there’s a name for the rest: the “non ultra-wealthy.” That’s because San Jose has the highest concentration of “ultra-high-net-worth” individuals in America. Those with $30 million are in the club.
Court Challenges Assured
The ink didn’t dry on the San Jose gun owner tax when opponents lined up legal challenges. City leaders should’ve seen this outcome though as there is no shortage of failed attempts at similar schemes before.
Connecticut and Maryland both tried to pass similar legislation in 2013, but those proposals were withdrawn amid backlash. Gun control bastion New York also had a similar bill but it never made it out of legislative committee.
Additionally, critics of the tax-and-insurance scheme point out it’s a backdoor firearm registry since the city would know what firearms law-abiding gun owners own, not what guns criminals are using.
This is far from innovative. It’s a devious way to punish gun owners.
Matt Manda is Manager, Public Affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.