Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy Announce Federal Judge Upholds Gun Insurance Law in San José

SAN JOSE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy announces a federal court has dismissed the Second Amendment claims filed by a gun rights group challenging the constitutionality of a 2022 San José ordinance that requires gun owners to carry liability insurance for accidental shootings involving their firearms. Described by some as a first-of-its-kind law, the San José law ordinance has been widely praised by gun regulation advocates and others as a common-sense measure to help stem the increasing toll of gun-related deaths and injuries. The plaintiffs, led by the National Association for Gun Rights, asked the court to hold the ordinance was unconstitutional.

In a 23-page decision issued yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Beth Labson Freeman permanently dismissed most of the gun rights group’s challenges to the ordinance, including their claim that the insurance mandate violates their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Applying a new test announced last year by the U.S. Supreme Court in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, Judge Freeman ruled that the insurance mandate did not violate the Second Amendment for multiple independent reasons, including the fact that it was consistent with the nation’s long-standing “historical tradition” of shifting the costs of firearm accidents from the victims to the firearms’ owners.

The judge allowed the challengers another chance to re-file their complaint as to another part of the San José ordinance, which requires that gun owners in the city pay an annual $25 fee to fund efforts to prevent gun-related injuries. Judge Freeman did so after concluding that the plaintiffs’ First Amendment challenge to the $25 fee was not currently “ripe” for decision because the City is still working to implement the fee requirement, which is not presently being enforced.

Sam Liccardo, the former Mayor of San José who led efforts to pass the ordinance, stated in response to the ruling:

Judge Freeman’s order is a victory for San José and cities throughout the nation. The gun lobby’s grip over Congress and state legislatures leaves it to local leaders to offer our families something more than “hopes and prayers,” and we need to press ahead with more innovative solutions to reduce the relentless human toll of gun violence in our communities.

Nora Frimann, the City Attorney of San José, reacted to the ruling with the following statement:

This decision affirms that there are constitutional ways to provide protections from gun-related harms, such as liability insurance, for the public and gun owners. We believe that this decision will inform the work of other local and state entities working on gun safety initiatives.

Tamarah P. Prevost, a partner at the law firm Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, which is defending the City of San Jose against the lawsuit, said:

The Court’s well-reasoned decision confirms that it is possible to draft legislation that is both constitutional and sensibly aimed at preventing the epidemic of gun violence; that is what the City of San José law does here. This is the correct result and a critical moment in the broader conversation about gun violence.

Andrew F. Kirtley, also a partner at Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, stated:

We applaud the City for having the courage to pass this ordinance, and we are pleased with this significant new decision upholding the constitutionality of the insurance requirement. We have been honored to represent the City of San José in this important litigation, and we look forward to continuing to do so.

The case is National Association for Gun Rights, Inc. v. City of San Jose, No. 5:22-cv-00501-BLF, in the U.S. District Court for the Norther District of California.

About Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP

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Tamarah P. Prevost

Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP

(415) 690-6727

[email protected]

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Lee Houskeeper

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