San Jose

Councilwoman Critical of SJ Mayor's Gun Insurance Proposal

Just days after San Jose’s mayor introduced a historic gun control proposal, a councilwoman is going on the offensive against him.

Maya Esparza said Mayor Sam Liccardo was grandstanding this week when he announced the idea to have gun owners buy liability insurance.

Esparza, who rarely gives interviews, said she felt compelled to speak out. Stephen Romero, the 6-year-old boy killed in the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting, is her cousin.

Stephen’s mother and grandmother were also hit by gunfire, but survived.

"This is personal for me, and I haven’t spoken about it to anyone else," Esparza said.

The news conference Liccardo called Monday announced a proposal that gun owners in the city be required to buy liability insurance. That rubbed Esparza the wrong way.

"To me, it felt like the mayor was more interested in chasing headlines than committing to specific action that would make communities like mine safer," the councilwoman said.

Esparza said she spoke with Liccardo last Friday about establishing some sort of gun ordinance, and she had suggested hate crime provisions be a part of it.

Then she saw the mayor’s news conference.

"I came home from the burial, the funeral, and to read about this was just too much," she said.

The mayor said he doesn’t take offense to Esparza calling the proposal headline-chasing. But he explained that he’s been talking about and working on a gun insurance ordinance for nine months and provided NBC Bay Area with recent emails with Esparza’s office discussing the issue.

But Esparza says the first time the mayor’s office reached out to her on the gun insurance ordinance was on Monday, while she was at her cousin’s funeral, after the news release was already written.

"We continue to welcome her input and input of others who care as passionately about the issue as we do," Liccardo said. "I would support (a version) that would plug any gaps for hate crimes, but as you know, those issues are at the state and federal level."

Esparza said it reduces victims to "tax burdens." She said she will likely propose her own legislation.

Councilman Raul Peralez and Vice Mayor Chappie Jones have signed on to the mayor's insurance memo.

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