by Bob Barr
California’s slide into a socialist wasteland is hardly news. What is somewhat surprising, or at least intriguing, are the depths of stupidity to which local and state officials in the “Golden State” will go to fulfilling their destiny. Take, for instance, San Jose’s latest anti-gun gambit – a compulsory tax to pay for the “costs” of criminal gun violence, coupled with a tax directly on lawful gun owners by forcing them to purchase liability insurance.
These ordinances most assuredly will be challenged in court, and all but certain to be eventually struck down, even if they survive appeal to the uber-liberal U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
This means significant public resources will be spent defending mandates not even considered by their proponents to be meaningful. City officials admit as much, saying the ordinances “won’t magically end gun violence,” but vowing to press forward regardless. This should remove any doubt that the city of San Jose considers law-abiding gun owners to be part of the problem and sees them as second-class citizens to be run out of town rather than respect their constitutionally protected rights as Americans.
In all their gushing over how smart and innovative they are with their latest anti-gun scheming, Mayor Sam Liccardo and his equally clueless cohorts on the city council fail to explain how punishing 99.9 percent of non-violent, law-abiding gun owners for the misdeeds of the other .1 percent will have any positive effect on crime in the city.
If California’s already highly restrictive gun laws could not prevent the horrific mass shooting at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority rail yard in May, what do these dunderheads think a tax and insurance mandate will do?
The same question applies when considering instances of “gun violence” perpetrated by criminals wielding illegal firearms, such as gang members and career criminals. Does Liccardo think these individuals themselves are paying into the system? The answer obviously is “No,” a reality again reflected in the mayor’s own admission that, “criminals won’t obey these mandates.”
This head-scratching, self-contradicting logic would be absurd if stopping gun violence truly was the goal. It is in fact worse. These mandates are designed directly and perversely to chill lawful gun ownership. Even where San Jose could make actual strides in tackling criminal gun violence, such as aggressively pursuing straw sales (already illegal under federal firearms law), the city instead has decided to further harass gun owners by ordering audio and video recordings of all retail gun sales.
Under current law, there is nothing to prevent law enforcement from tracking the serial numbers of guns used in crimes back to the original straw purchaser without such privacy-invasive recordings, but the opportunity to use the threat of a back-door registry via government surveillance in order to chill lawful gun purchases appears to have been too enticing for Liccardo to pass up.
While Liccardo and the San Jose city council may fancy themselves brilliant pioneers of anti-gun proposals, their vacuous ideas simply demonstrate their fundamental incompetence and their unwillingness to enforce laws already on the books to target criminals. For these municipal officials, it obviously is easier to scapegoat law-abiding gun owners for the costs of run-away gun violence by gangs and other criminals within their jurisdiction.
Such strategy, if it even qualifies as one, may score political points with liberal voters and the mainstream media, but the backslapping and fist-bumping will not last long when violent crime does not subside – which it will not. In fact, by running law-abiding gun owners out of town, San Jose will become even more of a haven for criminals. And, for a city that bellyached over “illegal” fireworks stretching their emergency response capabilities too thin, such a future is all but certain.
Instead of targeting citizens who obey the law and just want to be free from government harassment, perhaps Liccardo should ask why it is that so many people are fleeing California cities like his for the prairie towns of Texas. Asking such a question, however, would take a degree of objectivity and common sense clearly not present in today’s San Jose.
Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He served as the United States Attorney in Atlanta from 1986 to 1990 and was an official with the CIA in the 1970s. He now practices law in Atlanta, Georgia and serves as head of Liberty Guard.