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Gun owners should be required to have liability insurance.

The legal basis to require gun owners to purchase liability insurance would be the same as that for car owners. You have the right to a gun as long as you cn demonstrate you are responsible for any damage you cause. Having insurance is the way to be a responsible gun owner. Involving large insurance companies in the cause for making guns safer and reducing mass shootings like Columbine, Sandy Hook Elementary, and the Dark Knight shooting would result in a safer society.

Perhaps insurance companies would have much more detailed process to give you insurance, especially if you are buying a semi automatic gun with several magazines. They would charge insurance on every gun.

You would need to show proof of insurance when you buy bullets. The insurance company would have a vested interest to make sure people with psychological issues did not get hold of the gun. Perhaps this would have helped in the Sandy Hook shooting.

Even in the Trayvon Martin case the insurance company would have to pay.

To my understanding if the insured gun causes damages to an innocent person the insurance company would have to pay. If the gun owner was involved in the commission of a crime or felony the insurance company could try to sue the perpetrator to recoup the money. If the person injured was hurt because they were committing a felony then that would negate any requirement for a payout.

In the Trayvon Martin case I would expect they would have to pay out. He would have to have been selling drugs or robbing a house, carjacking, etc. for it to negate a payout.

I think insurance companies have made a big impact on car safety, I see no reason we wouldn't see similar results if they insured guns.

This avoids the entire 2nd amendment argument. You cede the right to own a gun but argue that the gun owners must be responsible for their actions, just like car owners must be responsible for their actions.

  • Aug 6 2013: 1. Yes, adding one more regulation does seem pointless if you don't enforce the ones already on the books. The thing is the govt doesn't have the resources to enforce them whereas once people start paying for insurance you will then get those resources. You can be sure Insurance companies will perform all of the background checks already in the law.

    2. The legal system has quantified how much damages should be for various accidents already.

    3. Insurance companies have been the prime mover and lobbyist to get the safety requirements into law.

    4. No, I would argue that the law has to be that if the gun is insured the victims must be compensated. However, in the Sandy Hill case the insurance company could then sue the estate of the deceased killer and take everything. This is a process much better suited to an insurance company with an army of lawyers rather than grieving parents having to form a class action suit. I don't see how they could sue Zimmerman if a court finds him innocent. He had a license to carry the gun in the way he did. However, I do expect that with a big lobbyist like in the insurance industry that there would be an effort to tighten up the laws in Florida.

    5. Just because a death is ruled a suicide doesn't make it so. The best way to murder someone is to make it look like a suicide.
    • Aug 6 2013: Is your suggestion that the insurance companies take over the regulation of firearms from the government? That changes the standard and would not be considered legal by any means. Car owners are required to have insurance but the insurance company does not regulate driver's licenses. You are talking two very different issues there.

      Also, you assume the legal system would work in the best interest of all involved. Insurance companies are profit making entities. They will not pay if they don't have to. That is what they do. They have a cost basis for what they will pay when required and will not pay more unless forced to do so by a court of law.

      As far as the issues of paying out, the insurance companies would be very clear on when they would and would not pay out. For example, most life insurance policies have a "suicide clause" meaning, if you kill yourself, they don't pay. In the case of firearms, they would not pay for self-inflicted injuries or 2/3's of those deaths in the United States. I highly doubt that 2/3's of the "deaths" are faked suicides. So, the insurance comes out ahead with no reason to pay out.

      Also, in the case of Zimmerman, the court found him not guilty of charges and that he used his gun appropriately. The insurance company won't pay on that either. The gun was used correctly, a court found him not guilty, there is no payment. There is precedent for that as well.

      Now, if you want to suggest that Zimmerman's case should be paid out, then you have to bring in all officer involved shootings as well. No police department or insurance company would pay out to a criminal who was shot in a crime.

      As for Sandy Hook, the insurance company would argue that the guns were stolen and the person committing the crime is responsible. All based on police records. Again, the insurance company doesn't pay out unless forced too.

      And ultimately, no criminal would care about this anyways so no real change occurs.
      • Aug 7 2013: 1. No, I have no interest in changing the laws of the land. I also have no interest in trying to add new regulations or requirements concerning getting a gun license. Many politicians have said repeatedly the problem is not a lack of regulation, it is a lack of enforcement of the regulations we have. Then when pressed on this point the police say they don't have the resources to enforce the regulations.

        The problem is crystal clear. Gun owners are irresponsible. Perhaps not 100% of them, perhaps not 50% of them, perhaps not even 90% off them. But the gun owners that are irresponsible are causing 100% of the problem.

        Now I don't assume that the insurance companies will do anything other than to work in their best interests which I hope to tie to the liability of irresponsible gun owners. No doubt the overwhelming majority of those do not even have a gun license. So that is the first thing that has to be stopped, that is the camel that everyone is swallowing. This is easy to deal with. Gun owners can resell their guns, no problem with that, but the guns have to be insured, if you own a gun legally then you have to insure it. If the gun is insured you are responsible for it until the new owner insures it. I don't think a front who is selling guns to gangsters wants to be on the hook for the damage done by that gun. No, the minute this happens they'll demand that if you want to buy their gun you need to insure it yourself.

        As to the case with Zimmerman the court didn't find him innocent they found him "not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt". There is a big gulf between the two and in a civil suit the standard is very different. In a civil suit the Martin's will win. That will determine liability.

        As to the Sandy Hook case I am pretty sure that the estate of the woman has already been assigned to pay damages. You are wrong on both cases.
  • Aug 6 2013: I would prefer to see the gun laws that are on the books enforced first rather than enacting new legislation that would again, only impact the law abiding citizens. Consider the illegal gun owner who doesn't pay insurance. What impact would it have on he or she?

    Moreover, what is the cost of human life taken by a firearm? How do you quantify that? Shouldn't you also do the same for the owner of a car? An arm is worth X, a foot is worth Y, and death is worth Z.

    Insurance has done little to decrease the injuries caused by automobiles. Safety requirements and litigation have had a greater impact.

    I will push back on the school shootings and especially on Trayvon Martin's shooting. The insurance companies would state that the "gun was not used in an appropriate manner" and they wouldn't pay out. With Trayvon Martin, they would say, based solely on the verdict, that no crime was committed therefore they would not pay out in his case.

    I feel there are other better ways to pursue safer gun use. And consider, 2/3 's of the roughly 30,000 gun deaths are self-inflicted so you are speaking a similar number compared to roughly the same number of vehicle related deaths per year.
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    Aug 5 2013: Stuart,
    I get it that you are passionate about this idea, but you wind up talking to yourself. Not a healthy sign.
    There are problems with the illegal use of guns. So, address those problems. What I am hearing is you say....
    The house across the street is on fire, so I am hosing down your house.... well, you are wasting your time and your water and the house across the street is still burning.... you see what I am saying?
    • Aug 5 2013: Should non gun owners have to pay for damage done by the use of guns? If we were talking about cars, the cost of the damage is in the same ballpark, yet we feel the owner of the car should be completely responsible for any damage they do.

      Now there are two options: you can have a government tax, which they have done on cigarettes, or you can have liability insurance. In my experience government tax is more wasteful, and although it seems "fair" it is similar to your example of hosing down houses that aren't on fire. The other option is liability insurance. I think it is clear that insurance companies will quickly determine where the real risk is (the houses that are really on fire) and hose them (make the insurance prohibitive).

      Personally I don't care which of the two options we take. My only feeling is that non gun owners should not have to pay for the damage done by gun owners. Simple concept. The constitutional right to gun ownership includes the idea of it being "well regulated". How is it "well regulated" when they hit the taxpayer with a $100 billion dollar bill each year?
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        Aug 5 2013: Stuart,
        One more time, people who damage other things or other people regardless of means are responsible for the damages. Civil suits abound, criminal penalties can be enforced. Again, regardless if it's a gun, a car, a baseball bat....People insure cars because it's big and does a lot of damage... a gun can kill but usually the damage is more confined. Not a big insurance need... insurance companies can make money on insuring guns like they can insuring cars, not guns, no money...
        That's life.
        Go out and live yours.
        • Aug 5 2013: The fact that those who caused the damage with cars were unable to pay is the reason we have made it a law in this country in all but 2 states, that every car owner must have liability insurance. The 2 states where insurance is not required have established a state bond that car owners must pay into every year.

          Can the person who shot up Sandy Hook pay restitution? So what if there are civil suits they just confirm that those who have wronged you are completely irresponsible and unable to pay. This is especially true of all felons. Money is a root of all sorts of evil and as a result, going after the money is a very effective way to shut down criminal enterprises. Once there is a law that you must be insured it could include all those who have possession of a gun, whether they have a license or not. As a result you can make the penalty for people the police apprehend with guns much more serious. This also makes it easier to shut down the guys who sell guns to criminals. They might have legal possession of 20 semi automatics, but no way they have insurance.
  • Aug 4 2013: On average the US sells 10 billion bullets a year. Since gun violence costs the US about $100 billion a year why not have a $10 tax on every bullet. This money goes into a fund that pays for the damage from gun violence. Of course if you go with the tax you don't need the liability insurance.
  • Jul 29 2013: 2nd Amendment

    "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

    The context of this right is "a well regulated militia". This link shows how well regulated the police are in the matter of shootings ( Likewise with the military and FBI.

    "Well regulated" means that the militia must abide by laws and regulations to insure that their use of guns is safe and responsible.

    Organized crime is also a "militia" but they are not well regulated, on the contrary their use of guns violates the laws of the land and is completely irresponsible. Every effort they make is so that they are not responsible and accountable for their use of guns.

    Therefore laws that require licensed gun owners to be "responsible" gun owners is part of the constitutional right to guns. The founders made it very clear in the letter of the law that the right to bear arms included the concept of being "well regulated".
  • Jul 29 2013: Gun Trafficking

    "One percent of licensed firearm dealers account for 57 percent of guns recovered in crimes. Law enforcement can put such offenders out of business, but the police and prosecutors need the tools to do so." (Americans for responsible solutions).

    The way to stop gun trafficking is to have a universal background check on every gun sold. This would happen if you had a mandatory liability insurance on every gun sold.
  • Jul 29 2013: High capacity magazines:
    "High capacity magazines are a deadly factor in gun violence. According to the Department of Justice, they are used in between 14 and 26 percent of gun crimes and between 31 and 41 percent of fatal police shootings. And the data has shown that limiting such magazines helps save lives. According to the Washington Post, during the previous ban on high capacity magazines (which has since expired), there was a 60 percent decline in share of recovered crime guns with high capacity magazines. After the ban expired in 2004, that share increased from the 2004 low – more than doubling by 2010." (Americans for responsible solutions).

    Once again, the best people for calculating the risk and liability for a high capacity magazine work at insurance companies. They can put an accurate dollar figure on this item. Depending on the circumstances they might also have special requirements before insuring this item. With tens of thousands of deaths attributed to guns every year in the US even incremental improvement of a few percent could save thousands of lives.
  • Jul 29 2013: Gun show loophole. The law requires background checks for gun purchases, and this is an effective way to keep guns out of the hands of felons and the mentally ill. However, guns sold at gun shows can avoid this background check. If you require that gun owners have liability insurance, then the person who originally bought the gun before selling it to another party would then have the insurance. The insurance company would still be on the hook for what that gun did and hence the seller would need to inform the insurance company of the change in ownership. No doubt the insurance company would require the background check prior to issuing a new insurance policy, so this would close the loophole. Yes, gun owners can sell their guns just as car owners can sell their cars. People who buy used cars/ guns still need to have insurance.
  • Jul 26 2013: Concerning your second point, requiring insurance will not impact illegal use of guns.

    We have discussed events like Sandy Hook Elementary, or the Colorado Movie shooting already. So, then lets discuss how this requirement might impact the local drug dealer.

    The cost of a gun owners liability insurance will be a direct result of how I use the gun. If I walk the streets like Zimmerman I would have a much higher liability than if I keep the gun in my bedroom to protect against an intruder. Especially if I have taken the necessary precautions to make sure a child could not get the gun. But, how could the insurance company prove that this is the case? We have the technology to monitor the location of a gun and how many times it is fired. If the owner permitted the insurance company to monitor them then it could save them significant money on their premium. As a result many guns, perhaps all legally purchased hand guns and semi automatic weapons would come with this added feature since it would pay for itself in lowered premiums.

    Now if the insurance companies can track the gun so can the police if it is stolen. Felons cannot legally obtain guns, they must steal them, but if they are stealing a gun that the cops can track that would be very, very bad for their business and make the job of cops very easy. We did the same thing with cars and it has greatly lowered the risk of your car being stolen.

    If it is cheaper for hand guns and semi automatic weapons to have tracking device then it would be an incredible coincidence if the only guns stolen by criminals were those that did not have this device. The odds against something like that happening by chance would be astronomical. Which gives a second advantage to the gun owner. If buying insurance for a gun makes it less likely that a criminal can use a gun then that also makes you safer.
  • Jul 26 2013: There are two points to your post:

    1. Requiring liability insurance for guns will hurt honest gun owners


    2. Requiring insurance will not impact illegal use of guns. (We have already discussed possible impacts in great detail).

    First, I do not see this law as "hurting" honest gun owners. Anyone who owns a gun must have a fear, even a slight fear, that a child, grandchild, etc. would find their gun and play with it. Such an event could bankrupt you and the tragedy would scar you for life. Even if that is not an issue, then surely you are concerned about the possibility of an accident similar to what happened with Dick Cheney. This is no different from driving a car. I don't like paying the insurance until I need it and then I am very thankful I have it. We are operating in a competitive market place and the insurance companies are expert at calculating risk. Therefore it is reasonable to conclude that the cost you pay for insurance will accurately reflect the actual risk. If the risk is negligible the cost will be too. If the biggest risk is a kid finding the gun I am sure there are products you can buy that would then bring down the cost of the insurance.

    In my opinion the US constitution does give US citizens the right to own a gun, however it is also very reasonable for the rest of society to require that this right be exercised in a responsible way. Once again, the analogy to driving a car fits. Yes, you have the right to drive a car, but only if you exercise that right in a responsible way. We define "responsible" as meaning that you must make provision beforehand for what would happen in the event of an accident. In all but 2 states that means you are required to buy liability insurance. In the other 2 states you are required to pay a bond to the state each year. To say that these laws are designed to "hurt" lawful drivers is self centered and false. These laws are designed to protect society, including the driver.
  • Jul 25 2013: What something that many of you are failing to realize is that this is just a legal way of hurting more honest gun owners. Guns are acquired through illegal means today to commit crimes. Harsher laws will only restrict law-abiding citizens in attempts to own a gun, but will do nothing to slow down crimes with guns, if anything it will speed it up!
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    Jul 25 2013: i also suggest to remove any laws regulating what information insurance companies can account. they should be allowed to incorporate family history, gender, religion, psychological profile or even race. there should be no mandated guidelines of "fairness" at all, or the entire thing is a bust.
    • Jul 25 2013: What insurance companies typically do is ask for permission for the information and in return you get a discount. If you refuse to give them permission they could charge you top dollar or else refuse to cover you at all.
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        Jul 25 2013: that is perfectly fine. also, they can take your willingness to disclose information into account.

        for example: Q: do you have drug problems, were ever treated for addiction? A: i won't tell.
        license: denied
        • Jul 25 2013: Insurance companies don't have the right to deny you a license, only to deny you insurance. There could also be a bond option where you pay money to the State for a bond. That is an approach that two states use for auto insurance. The reason is that there is no dispute over the idea that having a license to drive a car requires that you are a responsible driver. But ther is some dispute over the constitutionality of requiring someone to buy a product from a for profit company.
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        Jul 25 2013: which is the same thing. if you are utterly unfit for carrying a gun, no company in the right mind will ever make a contract with you, unless you put down hundred million bucks upfront. which is cool with me, unfit persons should not carry a gun.

        also, the idea could be extended to "privatizing" the requirement too. there would be no state-wide demand for an insurance, but for example cities or neighborhoods could require an insurance in order to let you in. even airplanes. if you want to carry a gun with you onboard, you probably need a very special training to get an appropriate level insurance.
  • Jul 25 2013: There are 6 factors that affect your insurance rates for a car. Let's look at 5 of them:

    1. What you drive. Likewise with guns what you own would carry varying amounts of liability.
    2. How much you drive. Likewise with guns they could vary insurance rates based on how many bullets you buy.
    3. Where you drive. Likewise with guns where you live would likely play a role.
    4. Your driving record. Ditto with guns.
    5. Your age and marital status. Likewise, gun owners with small children, or family members with mental illness, or even a family history of mental illness might have to take extra precautions or else pay higher rates.

    Right now if you want to respond to gun violence the NRA and Gun lobby shuts down every attempt. If you look at this reasonably you must conclude that there is a significant portion of the US population who consider guns an important part of their heritage and their constitutional right. Fighting to take that right away or limit it has been a failed cause. Especially viewing the fact that there are hundreds of millions of guns already sold in the US.

    However, enlisting Insurance companies doesn't limit the right, it only asks that the owners be responsible. Also it puts a financial powerhouse, the Insurance industry, into the position of ally with the same goal of less violence. This is an ally that is adept at the political process in the US. The insurance industry may not be able to stop a particular incident, but they will institute policies that will reduce the amount of accidental injuries that take place.

    Auto deaths in the US have dropped from around 55,000 in 1979 to about 32,000 projected for 2015. That is the year that gun deaths in the US are projected to overtake auto deaths. This improvement is the direct result of a focus on auto safety. This is the kind of improvement I envision.
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    Jul 25 2013: 2000 characters to justify an idea that is resolving a liability problem.... to answer... most do...
    except those gun holders who are using their guns to do illegal activities.
    In fact, if you have insurance to cover valuable items and have a gun, that could get you a reduction in your premiums.
    • Jul 25 2013: Yes, it does resolve the liability issue, But the hope is that since the liability on Sandy Hook would be astronomical that the insurance companies would figure out 1,000 ways to reduce the likelihood of that kind of issue. Giving a gun license is a matter of constitutional right, but selling insurance allows for much more in depth view than the government could ever have and they have the money to finance it. The legitimate gun owner would see this as peace of mind, the criminal could never qualify, but the Colorado shooting is where the insurance company might be able to spot a cause for alarm based on the number of assault guns, the amount of ammo, the bullet proof vest, and some psych evaluation they might do.
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        Jul 25 2013: You give insurance companies too much credit. If you ask for liability because of your gun your car, they will at most check with the police to see if you have any record.
        Although you addressed Sandy Hook and the Colorado shootings, I would be hard pressed to understand how any insurance plan would have affect either of these incidents.
  • Jul 24 2013: I think requiring liability insurance is the first step in greatly reducing the risk of ....

    deaths caused by "Alcohol" abuse helped lead to the imprisonment of four out of five inmates in the nation's prisons and jails, a three-year study has found.
  • Jul 24 2013: I think requiring liability insurance is the first step in greatly reducing the risk of mass shootings. It might not happen overnight, but just as insurance companies are a powerful advocate for safer cars so also they would be very influential on cars.

    Let's consider the two recent mass shootings: Colorado Movie house and the Sandy Hook Shooting.

    How would insurance have impacted that?

    1. Insurance rates could be higher for automatic weapons. This might have discouraged the number of weapons and the type of weapons purchased, especially in the Colorado shooting.
    2. Insurance companies can ask more detailed questions concerning mental health. That could certainly have had an impact on the Sandy Hook Elementary school as they would have discovered this woman's son was a liability. It might have also uncovered that the shooter in Colorado was unstable.
    3. Insurance companies can adjust rates based on security measures that you put in place. This might have made it more difficult or even impossible for the Sandy Hook Shooting to take place. Once they understood her son was unstable they might have required that the guns be locked in a very safe way for the mother to get a reasonable rate on her insurance.
    4. Insurance ID could be required to buy bullets. If that was the case that could have alerted officials to the Colorado shooting prior to the event.

    These are four ways that come immediately to mind.

    However, you are talking about enlisting the resources of an industry that makes hundreds of billions of dollars. They have the brain trust, the computer power and the political power to get things done. They have proven they can influence cars to be safer.

    Mass shootings by definition are done by those who are unstable mentally. These people probably do many things that can be tracked and that indicate they are unstable. Give them 10 years and my bet is they will have a big impact.
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    Jul 24 2013: In retrospect what impact would your proposal have had on the most recent mass shootings in America? I think the answer is "No effect.", but I want to hear your take on it.