Gun Liability Insurance: A Coming Idea?

it's a gun issue

A friend sent me a story concerning a new movement to have owners of guns being required to carry liability insurance on those guns. This has always seemed like a no brainer to me.

Guns do major damage in this country much as automobiles do. It just seems to make sense that if you have a piece of machinery that can inflict personal and property damage that you should be insured to cover that damage. To be honest I do not know if damage done by your gun is covered under another policy such as homeowner’s insurance, but if it is it is purely woeful inadequate.

Last year Mother Jones magazine did a special investigation on the cost of gun violence in this country. They had a hard time tracking down numbers in this area because the study of the effects of gun violence has been squelched by the US congress and various state legislatures. Even with that trouble MJ was able to come up with an estimate that the cost of gun violence is about a quarter of a trillion dollars per year or about $700 for every man, woman and child in this country.

We require every vehicle that is sold to be covered by insurance before the keys to the ignition are handed over whether it be a showroom sale or a private sale. We do this as a society so that if the driver of the vehicle causes property or bodily damage with that vehicle then the person driving is accountable and responsible for their damage. This concept of responsibility and accountability also extends to machinery used in businesses and also to products produced by a business.

So as a society Americans are supposed to carry insurance on anything that they do that may cause anyone harm and they get that insurance BEFORE they buy a vehicle or tart a business or even purchase a home. That is with on glaring exception. Americans are allowed to purchase guns and rifles that are designed to inflict injury and death without purchasing any insurance that would cover victims of such injuries or death. That is bad enough, but it is also galling that the cost of injuries and death are not borne by the gun owner, but by society as a whole.

One of the Republican Party’s major talking points over the years has been “personal responsibility and accountability.” It would surely seem to me that if you own a gun that by purchasing that gun you become responsible for the damage done by that gun. Therefore it seems that buying insurance to cover potential damage would be the responsible and accountable think to do, doesn’t it.

There would also be a major plus if insurance companies were on the hook for potential large payouts if gun owners were not responsible. So they would probably employ some of the same methods they use to rate automobile customers. If a person is deemed to be likely to cause damage he or she would be rated up or denied insurance.

But how could that stop someone from getting a gun? Well as I said, no insurance, no gun. The gun would have to have a mechanism that could only be implemented for one person at the time of purchase either by a licensed seller or by an insurance agent in the case of a private sale. This would also ensure that a background check would take place, since the insurance company would want to check on the clients background.

If the gun is lost or stolen it would need to be reported immediately. Remember that the gun can only be operated by the owner and any messing with that mechanism could disable the gun. There would be annual premiums for the insurance which would rise and fall based on the insurance company’s experience and that of the gun owner.

Gun insurance should be a step in an overall effort to curb the insane gun violence in this country. Do you want your children, your grandchildren and beyond to have to live in a society terrorized by guns? We need to begin somewhere. I offer this rudimentary proposal with market based solutions based on personal responsibility and accountability.

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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