‘We will be victorious’: Groups look to appeal San Jose gun law
Inside the Gun Exchange in San Jose. City firearm owners are required to carry liability insurance. Photo by Jana Kadah.

    In the wake of the dismissal of legal challenges against San Jose’s new laws for gun owners, pro-gun groups are doubling down on their commitment to roll back these historic efforts—in the name of their Second Amendment rights.

    U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman dismissed claims against the city brought by two national gun rights organizations in a ruling last week. The novel law, which requires gun owners to carry liability insurance and pay an annual fee—partially went into effect on Jan. 1. But gun rights groups are preparing to appeal, and said they will have full support from gun advocates across the country if they choose to proceed.

    “You cannot put precursors on the exercising of a constitutional right, and that’s what this insurance policy and certainly this fee is doing,” Sam Perades, executive director of Gun Owners of California in Sacramento, told San José Spotlight.

    Local policymakers pushed for the law, named the Gun Harm Reduction Ordinance, in 2021 following a mass shooting at the VTA light rail yard near downtown that left nine people dead. The insurance requirement, in effect since January, mandates local gun owners have liability insurance that covers losses or damages resulting from accidental use of the firearm.

    But legal woes started when the San Jose City Council approved the creation of the ordinance in January 2022. Two groups, the National Association for Gun Rights and Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, immediately filed lawsuits claiming the city’s new law was unconstitutional and burdensome. The lawsuits consolidated in September after Freeman refused their calls to immediately block San Jose’s law.

    As a result, challenges in court delayed implementation of the insurance requirement by six months. The city’s policy also includes an annual fee for gun owners, which is tentatively set at about $25 dollars but is not yet in effect. The city is looking for a nonprofit designed to reduce gun violence to receive the fees and provide services.

    Billy Edwards, spokesperson for the Colorado-based National Association for Gun Rights, said his organization is considering appealing Freeman’s ruling, calling it “judicial acrobatics.” He believes his organization could win a fight in the Supreme Court if it makes its way there.

    “This is judicial gaslighting at its finest,” Edwards told San José Spotlight. “We are exploring all legal options in this particular case, but it will be up to the Supreme Court to address the broader trend of lower courts twisting the Supreme Court’s words and thumbing their noses at the clear directive to actually obey the Second Amendment’s text.”

    Last week when announcing the dismissal of the claims, Freeman said the city “had demonstrated that the insurance requirement is consistent with the nation’s historical traditions” and that it did not violate the Second Amendment. However, Freeman said she will allow plaintiffs to file an amended complaint regarding the fee collection mandate.

    San Jose Councilmember Sergio Jimenez said the city has a rigorous process to ensure the laws are legally implemented. Though he isn’t surprised by the latest wave of pushback.

    “I’m totally supportive of doing everything we can to reduce harm, generally in our society,” Jimenez told San José Spotlight. “I expect and hope that once (plaintiffs) do resubmit, the judge will see it our way.”

    As San Jose works to preserve promises of enforcing new strategies to curb gun violence, Perades said he is confident plaintiffs will appeal to the ninth circuit, and his organization will support them when they do.

    “This is one battle in a long-term war and we will be victorious,” Perades said.

    Contact Jana Kadah at [email protected] or follow @Jana_Kadah on Twitter.

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