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San Jose dismisses gun rights group threat, pushes on with citywide gun ordinance

A national gun rights group sent San Jose city leaders a cease-and-desist letter on Wednesday, just two weeks after the city council approved calling for an annual gun fee and mandating gun liability insurance.

The letter from the National Foundation for Gun Rights, sent to Mayor Sam Liccardo and council members, puts the city on notice that the group will sue if the city moves forward with plans for a citywide gun ordinance.

The organization is the legal division of the National Association for Gun Rights, a Second Amendment advocacy group that considers itself the “conservative alternative” to the National Rifle Association.

The foundation maintains the city would violate the Second Amendment by imposing a tax on “a select group of law-abiding citizens” exercising their right to keep and bear arms.

Hannah Hill, spokesperson for the foundation, said:

“A right that you have to pay a tax to exercise is not a right at all,”  “You would not dream of imposing a tax to attend a church or to disseminate or read a newspaper which are protected by the First Amendment.”

Executive Director Dudley Brown called the ordinance a “full-frontal assault” on gun owners “by the gun control zealots running the city of San Jose.” The foundation sees the ordinance as unfair to law-abiding citizens, Brown said.

Harika Maddala/Bay City News Sheriff’s tape blocks the shooting scene at a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority maintenance yard in San Jose on Wednesday, May 26, 2021. The shooting resulted in multiple casualties and is prompting the VTA to shut down all light-rail service for the day at noon.

Liccardo, who met Monday with President Joe Biden and other mayors from the around the country to discuss gun violence, disagreed with gun rights group’s assertions.

Liccardo said in an email:

“In the realm of sensible gun regulation, the gun industry and their lawyers ensure that no good deed goes unlitigated.”

He added:

“I suppose that I should not be surprised that they have threatened to sue the city before they’ve even seen a single word in the ordinance.”

Rachel Davis, press secretary for Liccardo, said the city will continue to draft the ordinance despite the cease-and-desist letter.

The gun harm reduction proposals approved by the San Jose City Council at the end of June include a mandate for gun insurance; impounding guns from those who do not comply with insurance mandates and other laws; and recording all gun purchases to mitigate gun straw purchases, among many other proposals.

A draft ordinance is expected to come back to the city council in September for a vote.

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