The Mayor of San Jose tries shaming lawful gun owners

Pirates Cove checks in with this bit of despicable government overreach

Commentary: I’m asking San Jose residents to insure their guns

Mayors who experience such suffering in their communities after senseless gun violence do not have the luxury of waiting for Congress to act, as lawmakers offer their “thoughts and prayers.” Cities demand problem-solving over posturing. So this month, I proposed an oft-considered but as-yet-never-implemented idea: require every gun owner in the 10th-largest city in the United States to buy liability insurance.

Every U.S. state mandates that automobile drivers buy liability insurance; we should require no less of gun owners. Cars and guns have exacted a similarly grim human toll, each causing about 40,000 deaths in 2017. If San Jose’s gun owners can’t get liability insurance, they can comply with the mandate by paying a fee to compensate taxpayers for the “gun violence subsidy” borne by the public.

That is, for decades, taxpayers have subsidized gun ownership and the harms that accompany it. Direct costs of gun violence to California taxpayers—for ambulances, cops and emergency rooms—exceeded $1.4 billion last year, according to a study from gun-control advocacy group Giffords. While the Second Amendment protects a right to bear arms, it does not require taxpayers to subsidize the exercise of that right. Courts routinely uphold the imposition of reasonable, nonobstructive fees or taxes on constitutionally protected activities, such as forming a tax-exempt nonprofit, selling a newspaper and purchasing a gun.

Insurance can provide a useful mechanism for harm reduction. Risk-adjusted premiums provide financial incentives that reward good driving and installing air bags, and discourage parents from handing the keys to their risk-taking teenagers. Similarly, insurers could use premium discounts to prod law-abiding gun owners to take gun-safety courses, purchase gun safes and install child-safety locks—a welcome improvement for a nation where more than 4.6 million children live in a household where a gun is kept loaded and unlocked. Insurers would also hike the premium on a 19-year-old looking to buy his first semiautomatic weapon, someone such as the Gilroy shooter.

Dear Mayor, how about Hell no? This would be the first step in pricing guns too high for more and more Americans, call it disarmament by any means

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