Home>Articles>San Jose Annual ‘Gun Harm Reduction Fee’ is Just an Illegal Tax New Lawsuit Says

Guns and ammo. (Photo: Kiattipong/ShutterStock)

San Jose Annual ‘Gun Harm Reduction Fee’ is Just an Illegal Tax New Lawsuit Says

The fee would go to a private nonprofit organization that the City Manager will designate

By Evan Gahr, April 4, 2022 2:26 pm

The City of San Jose is being sued by three civic groups over a $25 fee on gun ownership that it enacted earlier this year. The law requires that gun owners pay the annual “gun harm reduction fee” to an organization being created by the San Jose City Manager, as the Globe reported in January. Almost all the  groups involved in forming the new organization have a leftist bent.

The Silicon Valley Public Accountability Foundation, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association filed the lawsuit in Santa Clara Superior Court. It charges violations of the First Amendment  because gun owners are forced to support an organization they may disagree with and also violations of the Second Amendment because it creates a new condition for gun ownership.

“We have a constitutional right to not associate with groups we disagree with,” Howard Jarvis legal director Tim Bittle told the California Globe.

The lawsuit also says that what San Jose is passing off as a fee is actually a tax and it has no authority to relegate taxing authority to the kind of private organization that would be created by the ordinance.

“This is a tax because the government is forcing residents to pay money to a nonprofit corporation formed by the mayor in exchange for services provided to the community at large,” Silicon Valley Public Accountability Foundation executive director Jonathan Fleming told the California Globe. “A fee is when person A pays money and only Person A receives that service.  A tax is when the government forces Person A to pay money and Persons A, B, C, D, and others receive services from the money Person A was required to spend.”

Fleming said that at a January 13 meeting with San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo about the new organization, there were representatives from Brady United, the premiere gun control lobby, Moms Demand Action, another anti-gun group. So it sounds like the ideological bent that the new organization would have is very clear.

Charging a violation of the First Amendment the lawsuit says that, “By requiring San Jose gun owners to pay an Annual Gun Harm Reduction Fee to a private nonprofit organization that the City Manager will designate, the Ordinance forces San Jose gun owners to associate with or support that private group and to fund their message, in violation of the gun owners’ rights of free speech and association under the United States and California constitutions.”

The lawsuit also says the fee is actually a tax that is being raised by a private organization in violation of the California Constitution. “Under article XIII section 31 of the California Constitution, the power to tax may not be granted to a private entity.”

“The Ordinance unconstitutionally delegates some of the City’s power to tax and appropriate tax revenue to a private organization, not answerable to the voters.”

In January, the National Association for Gun Rights filed a similar lawsuit asking for an injunction to stop the gun fee. A hearing on the case is scheduled for July 21st.

The National Association for Gun Rights is represented by California lawyer Harmeet Dhillon’s law firm. “Preventing the enforcement of this unprecedented and overreaching law is necessary to protect the First and Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owning citizens of San Jose,” David Warrington, a partner at the firm, told the California Globe.

“If this law is allowed to go into effect, there would be nothing to stop the San Jose City Council, or other municipalities, from enacting similar laws taxing and burdening other Constitutionally protected freedoms—this is truly the first step down the proverbial slippery slope.”

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2 thoughts on “San Jose Annual ‘Gun Harm Reduction Fee’ is Just an Illegal Tax New Lawsuit Says

  1. Thank goodness that conservatives are FINALLY pushing back against this continual overreach by the emotionally-overwrought “progressives” who are undoubtedly triggered and terrified by the image accompanying this article….

    The gun is just a tool, people – you need to figure it out and prosecute those that use the tool improperly and stop focusing all your vitriol on the tool… are you also going to levy a shovel tax on everyone who owns a shovel, because those can be used to kill another, too…

    Stupid snowflakes….

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