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In July, Gilroy, California, experienced one of America’s now-routine mass shootings. Nearby in San Jose, Mayor Sam Liccardo has had enough.

Unfortunately for American mayors, having enough of the nation’s mass murder epidemic still comes with myriad constraints; there’s not much that individual cities can do to limit gun “rights” after Congress and an increasingly conservative Supreme Court have spent decades putting up new restrictions on regulating any of it. What Liccardo decided the city could do, after months of consultation with attorneys and others, is require the city’s gun owners to have liability insurance for their weapons. If you own a gun, you would be expected to have insurance that covers the costs of what happens if you accidentally discharge it or if someone else uses it to commit a crime.

Mother Jones talked with Liccardo and makes clear just how precarious even this small requirement might be. The big problem is that gun liability insurance is, for reasons that are probably easy to imagine, currently hard to come by. Liccardo’s proposed ordinance, therefore, allows a second option, in which gun owners can instead pay a city fee toward a “public compensation pool” intended to offset the taxpayer cost of shootings.

So long as those fees were reasonable, the experts Mother Jones queried believe it could pass constitutional muster. But it is a stopgap. The most it can do is make it slightly less financially onerous on taxpayers who get shot, or on cities forced to deal with the aftermath.

And yes, if the proposal is approved by the city council, you can expect it to be tied up in court for as many years as gun advocacy groups can manage.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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