San Jose Gun Insurance Challenge, Fee Law May Continue

  • Judge previously denied injunction, saying challenge unlikely to succeed
  • Most Applications Rejected with Permission to Refile

(Reuters) – A gun rights group’s legal challenge to a San Jose, Calif., city ordinance requiring gun owners to purchase insurance and pay fees to a nonprofit aimed at preventing gun violence can move forward, a federal judge has ruled.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman granted much of the city’s motion to dismiss the case, brought by the Colorado-based National Association for Gun Rights, but said the group could refile most of the rejected applications.

Labson also dismissed a similar lawsuit brought by two other groups, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and the Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association, in its entirety, also with leave to file a new suit.

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San Jose passed the first-of-its-kind ordinance in January, which would require gun owners to carry liability insurance covering loss and damage resulting from the careless or accidental use of their guns. The law would also require gun owners to pay annual dues to a nonprofit anti-gun violence organization designated by the San Jose city manager.

NAGR filed a lawsuit immediately after the law was passed, claiming that the insurance requirement restricted the right to bear arms under the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and that requiring payments to an organization to nonprofit was unconstitutional forced speech under the 1st Amendment. HJTA and SVTA sued in March only challenging the fee requirement, arguing that it violated the right to free speech under the 1st Amendment and the California constitution, and illegally delegated the city council’s taxing authority. to the city manager.

The measure was supposed to go into effect in August, but the city postponed its implementation pending litigation.

In August, Freeman denied NAGR’s motion for a preliminary injunction blocking the law, saying the insurance requirement challenge was unlikely to succeed under the new standard set in June by the state Supreme Court. States in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, who argued that gun regulations are permissible if they conform to those traditionally used in US history. Freeman said the insurance requirement was analogous to some 19th-century laws requiring gun owners to post bond in order to carry a gun.

Freeman also said challenges to the fee requirement were premature since the nonprofit had not yet been named.

Friday’s order followed a similar reasoning. Freeman said the 2nd Amendment challenge should be dismissed because the complaint was drafted before Bruen, but gave NAGR a chance to refile it under the new standard.

She said disputes over the fees were still not ripe to be decided in court, but said they could also be refiled by February, if the city takes further steps to implement the law.

Mike Columbo of Dhillon Law Group, an attorney for NAGR, said the ruling “explains that even now the city still hasn’t made the most basic decisions about how to implement the ordinance” and that NAGR planned to file his complaint again.

Tamarah Prevost of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, a city attorney, said the decision “affirms the city’s belief that this gun ordinance is legal.”

An attorney for HJTA and SVTA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The case is National Association for Gun Rights Inc v. City of San Jose, US District Court for the Northern District of California, No. 5:22-cv-00501.

For NAGR: Mike Columbo of Dhillon Law Group

For HJTA and SVTA: Timothy Bittle of HJTA

For San Jose: Tamarah Prevost of Cotchett, Pitre and McCarthy

(NOTE: This story has been updated with comments from City Council).

Read more:

Judge says she’s unlikely to block California city’s gun insurance law

US Supreme Court expands gun rights, strikes down New York law

San Jose votes to be first U.S. city to make gun liability insurance mandatory

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Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Brendan Pierson

Thomson Reuters

Brendan Pierson advises on product liability litigation and all areas of healthcare law. He can be reached at [email protected]

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