San Jose still does not have a structure to charge for weapons

By Tran Nguyen, San Jose Spotlight

April 16, 2022

San Jose has an ambitious plan to curb gun violence by requiring gun owners to pay an annual fee. But nothing exists, and the clock for application is rapidly shrinking.

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Earlier this year, San Jose became the first city in the state to require residents who own firearms to pay $ 25 a year per household fee and purchase firearms insurance to cover losses or damages resulting from negligence. The policy, led by Mayor Sam Licardo, designates an association that will collect the annual fees and decide how to spend them.

With the law coming into force in early August, a group of community leaders recruited by the mayor to lead the efforts met only once – in January. The group, made up of local NGOs and arms supporters, is currently in limbo as it waits for direction, friends said.

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Dave Truslau, an arms supporter recruited to help set up the association, said the mayor told the group the city is looking to form an association or recruit an existing organization to enforce its arms reduction ordinance. But none of them happened.

“It was not clear what would happen after that meeting, and it is still not clear what the way forward is,” Treslow told San Jose Spotlight. “I have no idea. There was no surveillance.”

Shika Hamilton, Vice President of Brady United, and Michelle Lou, CEO of the Health Fund – both also involved in the group entrusted with setting up the association – confirmed that the group has no update and referred questions to the mayor’s office.

The mayor’s office initially told the San José Spotlight that the organization was moving beyond leadership after Esther Perls-Dickman, CEO of Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence, which was slated to lead the new organization, left before anything took hold. Lopgren.

The group is reportedly working to achieve non-profit status, said Licardo spokeswoman Rachel Davis. Perls-Dickman did not respond to inquiries regarding the status of the association.

After learning that at least two of the group members said they were waiting for instructions from the mayor’s office, Davis said it was not the municipality’s responsibility to manage and organize the association. According to her, the mayor’s office is working to implement the ordinance by August.

“We are not aiming for it and we are not advising it,” Davis told the San José Spotlight, noting that the group is aware that it must be a separate entity from the city. “We’re just helping to make it easier. The details fall on those who get organized.”

More questions than answers

Councilman Dev Davis, the only one who voted against the gun fee and insurance demand in January, said the policy would not help prevent gun violence and could cost taxpayers money when the city is sued by three local organizations for the $ 25 fee. She also asked if the municipality could enforce the ordinance if the association is not established by August.

“Most of the feedback (from voters) I get about it is distrust and also questions about how it will work,” she told San José Spotlight. “And I have no answers for them because the process is not working out.”

The city’s public safety committee also has no update on the operation of the gun fees, council spokesman Raul Perls said in referring questions to the mayor’s office. Perls heads the committee.

Among a number of other concerns, Truslow said he fears the establishment of the association will lead to further lawsuits against the city’s policies and the association itself. It is not clear to him whether the municipality will help the organization fight litigation.

Information security is another aspect that needs to be addressed, he said.

“It will take a tremendous amount of work for the organization to actually create a database that will be secure,” he said. “Because if this database is leaked, it basically helps every criminal know exactly where he can go to break into a house and steal guns.”

Implementing the plan must also be complicated, as the city does not have a list of all gun owners in San Jose. The program will need this data to send information on commission requirements and payment notices.

“I hope I’m wrong,” Treslo said. “I hope they can run it, but based on what I’ve seen, the scope of work is pretty significant.”

Contact Tran Nguyen at tran@sanjosespotlight.com or follow @nguyenntrann On Twitter.


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