N.Y., Va., D.C. representatives propose federal gun insurance law

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Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and eight Democrat cosponsors have introduced the “Firearm Risk Protection Act” (H.R. 1369) into Congress, the first bill that would require liability insurance of gun buyers nationwide.

Carolyn Maloney

Carolyn Maloney

She was joined in sponsoring the bill by Reps. James Moran of Virginia and Eleanor Holmes Norton of Washington, D.C.

The proposal was introduced into the House Judiciary Committee.

James Moran

James Moran

The law would require gun buyers to have liability insurance coverage before being allowed to purchase a weapon and imposes a fine of $10,000 if an owner is found not to have the required coverage; service members and law enforcement officers are exempt from this insurance requirement.

Attempts to pass similar legislation requiring liability insurance in several states have failed.

“We have a long history of requiring insurance for high-risk products – and no one disputes that guns are dangerous,” Maloney said in a statement. “While many individual states are debating this issue now, it makes more sense for Congress to establish a national requirement to allow the insurance markets to begin to price the risks involved consistently nationwide.”

Eleanor Holmes Norton

Eleanor Holmes Norton

Although the bill would require gun owners to have “a qualified liability insurance policy,” obtaining such coverage could be nearly impossible as few companies offer that type of product.

“Legislatures can mandate, but can’t compel insurers to sell it,” said Robert Hartwig, president of the Insurance Information Institute when asked recently by IFAwebnews.com if the insurance industry was prepared to offer firearm liability insurance.

Currently, guns are only insured as property in most cases, but bodily and property injury due to accidental discharge may be covered under a traditional homeowners policy, akin to slip and fall incidents.

According to Hartwig, most insurance companies understand the low probability of such an event and do not even ask prospective policyholders if they own a gun.

The National Rifle Association currently endorses an “excess personal liability” plan with up to $250,000 in coverage, administered by Lockton Affinity. A “self-defense” rider is also available, covering NRA members involved in an act of self-defense.

The six other co-sponsors of Maloney’s bill are Keith Ellison (Minn.), Michael Capuano (Mass.), Bobby Rush (Ill.), Nikki Tsongas (Mass.), Stephen Lynch (Mass.) and Earl Blumenauer (Ore.).

Maloney is also the lead sponsor of “straw-purchase” legislation, H.R. 452, “The Gun Trafficking Prevention Act of 2013,” cosponsored by Reps. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) and Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.). The proposal would make buying a gun on behalf of someone else who is prohibited by federal or state law from possessing one a crime, subject to a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Organizers or managers of firearms trafficking networks would be subject to an additional five years in prison.

13 Responses

  1. Elizabeth Says:

    How exactly would this protect the public? I think you have missed the mark with this.

  2. Mark Says:

    What a stupid idea. The only people who will purchase this insurance, assuming it is even available, are law abiding citizens. And for what purpose? Do you really think that criminals and mentally ill people are going to check to make sure their policies are current before they go out and start shooting their guns? I don’t think so. Better that we do what we can (over the gun rights fanatics howls of protest) to prevent guns from getting into the hands of these people. In other words, try to address one of the causes of the problem, rather than one of the symptoms. Perfect solution? No. But its better than passing stupid laws that create more costs and do NOTHING to solve the problem.

  3. This is silly Says:

    Are you serious? I love the fact that congress wants to push this off onto the private insurance market. They think insurance companies are going to now miraculously solve the gun problem currently facing the country. Just like they did with making automobiles safer by pushing the industry to install better safety measures like airbags???? I don’t think so. This is a problem that needs to be solved by the public sector – not the private insurance market. Insuring the accidental discharge of a firearm? We don’t need regulations for this because its already covered by your homeowners policy. Obviously congress is worried about the massacres that appear to be happening at grater rates these days. The only way to cover this would be to make insurance carriers responsible for intentional acts related to gun violence. Wait until all the gangsters and drug dealers figure out some way to turn this into a lucrative money making fraud scheme. Can you say “Moral Hazard”? Then imagine being the claims adjuster that has to settle all the claims for the innocent victims (especially the kids). Yeah – I want that to me my job. Good luck with this one congress.

  4. W_B Says:

    I guess they feel that if they can mandate health insurance they can mandate anything else that makes them feel good about themselves. Elizabeth has it correct, this and all the other gun legislation does nothing to protect the public. An armed public is the best defense! When seconds count, the police are minute away.

  5. Matt Says:

    Agreed, Elizabeth. It sounds more like a Bar Association idea to pay for their legal fees. No, thanks.

  6. Pamela Says:

    Once again Washington wants to put the citizens that abides by the laws under the bus, or in this case the train. With Congress as it is, if this somehow would get passed once again the good guys would get saddled with more money out of their thin pockets and the bad guys would not buy insurance in any case. Washington politics should get out of citizen’s personal business and not let the individual members of Congress think up the idiotic ideas for their five minutes of attention.
    p.s. Mr. Obama could save his 5% pay give-back and stop flying all over the country to make speaches to improve his approval rate! That would save a huge amount of money.

  7. Will Says:

    Don’t they know that liability insurance does not cover intentional acts, so there will not be any coverage for intentional shootings!

  8. Deb Says:

    why not tack a fee on to gun and ammunition sales to build a victims fund for those injured and killed by guns? Howling about “rights” being taken away should stop. After all, illegal guns started as legal guns at some point. And people don’t get killed easily if there are no bullets in the guns. So fees on ammo sales would be logical, too.

  9. Insurance Guy Says:

    No wonder Congress has such a low approval rating. They come up with some well-intentioned but idiotic ideas. Will is absolutely correct, but with a clarifier. Liability insurance policies do not cover intentional acts that result in “injury or damage” to others(“expected or intended”). Add “criminal acts” to the list of types of losses excludedfor bodily injury and/or property damage (also under “personal injury – detention or imprisonment”)

  10. David Says:

    This won’t stop anything illegal and the law would be quickly ruled illegal and unconstitutional. This is the equivalent of the old poll taxes meant to keep the poor and minorities from voting. If you can’t afford a right, you can’t have it? Yeah, right. If we check these Democrat’s campaign funds will we find massive donations from insurance companies or are they simply racists trying to disarm those who can’t afford to live by their rules?

  11. JustSumStuff Says:

    I see a back door registration plot.

  12. Fred Calabrese Says:

    This is unnecessary. I have renters insurance; that is my general liability coverage. This is just an attempt to discourage firearms ownership.

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