Editorials and blog posts calling for an insurance “fix” to mass shootings are appearing in newspapers and online since the horrific school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
Here’s the argument: Requiring registered gun owners to carry liability insurance in the same way car owners must carry liability insurance will significantly impact gun crime and murders committed using a firearm.
Let me state: I do not own a gun. The only gun I have held in the past 25 years is the BB-gun game in the midway at the state fair. I have no dog in this fight.
Also, while common sense might dictate some sort of restrictions on the size of bullet magazines or types of permitted firearms, my comments do not address the 2nd Amendment, as guns are legal.
Those calling for insurance requirements say a law would increase gun costs, thus reducing their number or at a minimum forcing more safety considerations by owners and makers. A high-powered hunting rifle, for instance, would cost more to insure than a small handgun in the home.
Getting insurance companies involved, they say, will bring a major force into play, because premiums will be based on gun locks, who owns guns, etc., increasing awareness and safety. Some argue that insurance companies that would insure gun owners would cover medical costs of those shot.
If only it were that simple to decrease gun deaths.
Some homeowner’s policies cover guns in homes; some specifically exclude use of weapons, even for self-defense. (The NRA offers self-defense coverage, underwritten by Lockton Affinity.)
But even if coverage were required of registered gun owners – thus bringing carriers and thus agents/brokers into the debate – would crime decrease?
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) statistics show that 93% of all gun crimes in the U.S. involve unregistered guns. Would insurance coverage laws stop those 93%’ers? Or would those with bad intent ignore new laws?
Scofflaws repeatedly drive with no license or insurance, despite laws. In New York alone, more than 100,000 people are arrested each year for driving without a license; the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that many of those arrested for driving without a license do so in the commission of another crime.
For purposes of this commentary, I went to a local indoor shooting range to observe only. The high level of safely procedures, educational safety courses, and the serious nature of gun owners I observed regarding safety would embarrass any of us who gets behind the wheel of a 4,000 lb. vehicle and talks on the phone or drinks a soda while our children are in the back seat. Guilty as charged.
Perhaps a law requiring gun owners to prove insurance coverage would be another product in a broker’s portfolio. Perhaps it would only increase costs for law-abiding citizens. But the jury is out if it would have an impact on crime or deaths when guns are used by those intent on breaking the law; criminals do what they want regardless of what the law states.
That’s my take.