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The City of San Jose has taken the first step towards adopting an ordinance that would require gun owners to obtain insurance and pay an annual fee, with the proceeds of the fee going towards efforts to reduce gun harm.

This city voted Tuesday night to require gun owners to carry liability insurance and pay an annual fee, in what's believed to be the first measure of its kind in the United States.

The San Jose City Council overwhelmingly approved the measure despite opposition from gun owners who said it would violate their Second Amendment rights and promised to sue.

The Silicon Valley city of about 1 million followed a trend of other Democratic-led cities that have sought to rein in violence through stricter rules. But while similar laws have been proposed, San Jose is the first city to pass one, according to Brady United, a national nonprofit that advocates against gun violence.

We've talked about the insurance proposal from time to time on this board. Advocates have suggested that the insurance requirement might dissuade gun ownership, or force owners to practice more gun safety (such as trigger locks or safes) to get their insurance costs down. While that's possible in theory, this ordinance is unlikely to do either of those things. The ordinance only covers accidental or negligent damages and doesn't include a minimum amount of coverage, so there's not likely to be much actual premium cost for coverage to homeowners.

In fact, reading the ordinance, I think the most likely significant outcome will have nothing to do with firearms or firearms safety (assuming that it survives legal challenges and that people actually bother to comply with it, neither of which is assured). The biggest impact will be on renter's insurance. Nearly all homeowners have homeowners' insurance, so they won't have to do much (if at all). But most renters don't have renters insurance. So it's unlikely that gun owners will do anything different with their guns, but you might see an increase in the number of renters who have renters' insurance.

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