A collection of handguns from Rock Island Armory are prepared for shooting during a demonstration at SHOT Show 2022
A collection of handguns from Rock Island Armory are prepared for shooting during a demonstration at SHOT Show 2022 / Stephen Gutowski

Gun-Rights Group Files Suit Against San Jose Gun Ownership Tax

The legal challenges against San Jose’s novel gun-control ordinance are starting to pile up.

The Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), a California-based gun-rights organization, filed a new lawsuit against the city’s annual firearms tax and liability insurance mandate in federal court on Tuesday. The group alleges that the law violates citizens’ gun rights and freedom of association, calling the ordinance “facially unconstitutional in several ways.”

“The government may not impose a fee on the choice to exercise a constitutional right,” the complaint reads. “But that is exactly what the Ordinance does. The government also may not restrict firearm ownership in ways that are wholly unknown to the Nation’s history and that fail entirely to advance the government’s asserted goals.”

The suit marks the third major legal challenge against the city and its novel ordinance since it passed in January. The law drew an immediate challenge from the National Association for Gun Rights just one day after it passed. Last month, a California taxpayer advocacy coalition also filed suit against the law’s fee provision. Now, facing a third challenge, the city finds itself embattled before it has fully fleshed out the details of the law.

San Jose City Manager Jennifer Maguire, a named defendant in the suit, did not respond to a request for comment. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo (D.), the ordinance’s chief proponent, has stood by the mandatory tax and insurance provisions despite the multitude of lawsuits it has drawn thus far.

“No good deed goes unlitigated,” Liccardo previously told The Reload.

The law, which is slated to take effect this August, would require all gun owners to obtain liability insurance coverage and pay an estimated annual $25 fee to a non-profit organization created with help from the city. The non-profit would be tasked with distributing fee revenues to gun-violence prevention services and firearm safety training, according to the law’s supporters. Failure to comply with either mandate could result in a fine and the confiscation of a resident’s firearms.

The spotlight on the city has grown in the months since the first-of-its-kind ordinance cleared the city council earlier this year. In addition to facing a series of constitutional challenges to the ordinance, the city has struggled to work out the details of implementing the law ahead of its effective date. San Jose Spotlight reported earlier this month that the non-profit tasked with collecting the annual gun ownership fee has yet to be formed, and the group tasked with creating the non-profit has only met once.

Officials with FPC say the city’s novel gun-control scheme won’t improve public safety. Adam Kraut, Vice President of Programs for FPC, said the ordinance stands only to burden the constitutional rights of San Jose gun owners.

“Governments cannot run roughshod over the constitutional rights of their People simply because they do not care for the rights they choose to exercise,” he said in a statement. “San Jose’s gun-owner insurance requirement is a demonstrable attack on a right exercised that lies outside of the policy preferences of its Government. We look forward to aggressively litigating this matter on behalf of individuals in San Jose and striking down this unconstitutional Ordinance.”

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Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

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Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

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