The idea of allowing private parties to limit liberty is becoming more popular with politicians who have been limited by individual constitutional rights. These people can target individual freedom and not restrict it explicitly, as a brat kid waving around his sibling while shouting “I’m NOT touching you!” San Jose, California’s government is the latest to do so. They insist that the city is Constitutionally compliant in mandating gun owners to have liability insurance, and to pay an “annual fee for gun harm reduction” in order to protect a Second Amendment-protected right.
“Tonight San José became the first city in the United States to enact an ordinance to require gun owners to purchase liability insurance, and to invest funds generated from fees paid by gun owners into evidence-based initiatives to reduce gun violence and gun harm,” San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo A January 25th statement. Thank you to all my council members who have continued to express their support for reducing gun violence in the community. I am deeply grateful also to our advocacy and legal partners with Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP, EveryTown, Moms Demand Action, SAFE, the Gifford Law Alliance and many others who work tirelessly to help us craft a constitutionally compliant path to mitigate the unnecessary suffering from gun harm in our community. This is something I hope to continue to encourage and support.
This smug statement has many flaws. It assumes firearm ownership is costly and does not provide benefits. Also, it claims that the requirement for people to have liability insurance and to pay taxes to government to exercise the Second Amendment right to bear arms, are constitutionally permissible. Liccardo’s claims are not grounded in reality. However, he is particularly sensitive to the fact that imposition of costs on gun owners could be considered government overreach.
Liccardo: “This isn’t really governmental regulation.” NPR was insistentThis week. “This is private sector regulatory. It is the insurance companies. Since five decades insurance companies have been controlling safety in automobiles. As a result we’ve all seen per-mile deaths fall dramatically.
It’s an easy comparison that gun prohibitionists use and doesn’t get better with repetition. First, “the right of bear arms” is protected by the Constitution in a way that car ownership does not. California is, just like other states, a state that allows you to bear arms. Registration and insurance are not requiredFor vehicles that can only be used on private land or are transported via trailer. Gun ownership would not be protected by the Second Amendment. mayCar insurance requirements and fees should be comparable to the burdens that people carry concealed weapons. But not like those on people who keep guns at home and take them to range.
Worse, automobile regulations are a sad example of the burdensome restrictions that can be placed on certain activities without any protection. After tags and taxes, we moved to inspections and fuel efficiency requirements. Now politicians are proposing. Mandating interlock technologyIf our bodies contain alcohol, the sensors in vehicles can prevent them from starting. This is not an indication of what’s in store, and it’s not the right path.
It’s even more true when politicians secretly provide private party representatives to impose restrictions they can’t put into law. Liccardo’s press release cites a list of San Jose gun control groups as evidence that the city has a restrictionist agenda. There is no doubt that increasing fees and adding insurance requirements will increase the barriers to firearm ownership. Either insurance companies will be supportive of this goal, or heavily regulated industries may succumb to government pressures to cooperate. It wouldn’t be first time that the private sector was asked to play this role.
The then-New York Governor said, “I direct the Department of Financial Services that I urge all insurers and bankers to examine whether they have any relationships with the NRA and similar organizations. This sends the wrong signal to their clients as well as their communities which often turn to them for support and guidance.” Andrew Cuomo A 2018 statement urged this..
According to the ACLU, “The NRA asserts that Cuomo (and top members of his government) abused their regulatory power over financial institutions in New York to threaten New York bank and insurance companies that associate with NRA or other gun promotion groups and that these threats have jeopardized NRA’s access at New York’s basic banking services.” Responded. The ACLU believes that targeting non-profit advocacy groups and trying to stop them from receiving financial services is a violation of the First Amendment.
The private sector is not allowed to be leaning on politicians directly, so “constitutionally compliant” in this sense only. It is an attempt to bypass legal protections for individual rights.
If San Jose had made its regulations on bloggers and journalists, the problems of requiring them to have insurance and pay fees might become more apparent. If liability insurance was imposed to compensate for the alleged harms from misinformation or disinformation, it would clearly violate First Amendment rights. Liccardo, and his company might still think that this is a good idea.
Freedom House: “In a recent trend, many governments sought to shift the burden on censorship to private businesses and individuals by pressuring them to remove content. Sometimes, they resort to direct blocking only after those efforts fail.” Warning in 2015. Local companies are particularly vulnerable to law enforcement agencies’ whims and the recent proliferation of restrictive laws. Due to their immense popularity and reach, large international corporations like Google and Facebook have been subject to similar demands.
Privatized authoritarianism only has grown since then. Now, we see companies requesting that disfavored speakers be removed from their premises. The White House is highly placed. Politians that believe it is okay to force private companies into muzzling opponents are not going to hesitate to draft those very same businesses to help them disarm the population. Instead of submitting, those who value liberty must exercise it against all external control.