San Jose passes crazy ordinance to punish law-abiding gun-owners

The Second Amendment says Americans have an inherent right to bear arms because each of us is an integral part of a citizen's militia that can be called up to defend against enemies both foreign and domestic.  Leftists hate this because it threatens the totalitarian government they envision.  San Jose, California, the hard-left capital of Silicon Valley, thinks it's come up with a clever way to bypass the Second Amendment: the city council passed an ordinance imposing a tax on law-abiding gun-owners that forces them to compensate San Jose for the costs it incurs dealing with gun crime.  If they don't pay, the city will steal their guns (under color of law, of course).

Here's Fox Business:

Gun owners in San Jose, California, will soon face a yearly tax and be required to carry additional insurance after their city council voted unanimously Tuesday evening to impose the new measures.

The forthcoming fee for gun ownership in the city has not yet been determined, but officials said that anyone found to be in noncompliance will have their weapons confiscated.

The city council's aim is to try to recoup the cost of responding to gun incidents such as shootings and deaths. According to the Pacific Council on Research and Evaluation, which studied the issue and sent a representative to testify before the panel, gun-related incidents cost the city roughly $63 million every year in the way of paying for police officers, medics and other expenses, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.


While the council directed staffers to draft up the law for a final September vote, the dollar amount on the new tax for gun owners has not yet been determined. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo suggested the new annual fine will likely be "a couple dozen dollars," and claimed insurers assured the city that firearms owners adding gun liability coverage to existing policies would cost the affected citizens little or nothing.

There is so much wrong with San Jose's plan.

First, we don't punish the innocent for crimes that others commit.  When we're children, we hate it when the teacher says, "Because Bobby chewed gum in the class, everyone is getting a 'pop' quiz."  When we're adults, collective punishment not only is offensive, but also almost certainly violates the Due Process clause in the Fifth Amendment.  That amendment states, in relevant part, that "No person shall be ... deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."  There is no due process when someone is automatically subjected to a penalty for a crime that another committed.

Second, if the San Jose government is intent upon depriving people of a constitutional right, the governing body must have passed the law to further a "compelling governmental interest," and it must have drafted the law in the narrowest way possible to achieve that interest.  San Jose contends that its compelling state interest is to recoup its losses for policing crime.  It will be hard pressed to maintain that the narrowest possible way to achieve that interest is to tax a specific group of innocent citizens and to steal their property if they don't cough up the money.  And the law will do nothing to stop illegal gun ownership or the gun crimes that are costing the city so much money to begin with.

Third, assuming for the sake of argument that even the insane Ninth Circuit doesn't strike the ordinance within minutes, it's discriminatory in that it is a regressive tax on gun-owners with lower incomes.  (A progressive tax is one that takes a larger percentage of money from wealthier people.  A regressive tax is one that takes a larger percentage of money from poorer people.)  In this case, whether law-abiding gun-owners are forced to pay a flat tax or the government steals their valuable weapons, the penalty exacts a much higher percentage from a poor person's net worth than from a rich person's.

Currently, San Jose doesn't know who owns a legal gun.  The plan is that whenever it discovers that someone owns a gun — someone who did not commit a crime — it will demand that the owner show proof that he paid the tax.  If he can't, the police will instantly steal the owner's valuable weapon.  (Note that I don't say confiscate, which has an official, law-abiding sound.  This is theft, pure and simple.)

Just remember: gun laws do nothing to keep criminals from guns.  They are all intended to keep law-abiding citizens from guns — and the only reason a government would want to do this is because it has plans — not nice plans — for law-abiding citizens.

Image: Classic Walther PPK by Tomascastelazo.  CC BY-SA 4.0.

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