When I first suggested this a couple of years ago, a lot of people thought I was cuckoo. But it seems like gun liability insurance is an idea whose time has finally come. And what’s not to like for politicians? After all, free market! Insurance donors! One of the points raised in this article is that insurance would not cover willful acts, but that’s not true in the case of a minor child. Lots of ways for the underwriters to fine tune it, too. (For instance, a willful act by a family member with known mental illness.) I hope this becomes reality, because so far, gun owners have rarely suffered any financial consequences for their carelessness or negligence:
Both sides in a nation sharply divided over guns seem to agree on at least one thing: a bigger role for the insurance industry in a heavily armed society. But just what that role should be, and whether insurers will choose to accept it, are much in dispute.
Lawmakers in at least half a dozen states, including California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania, have proposed legislation this year that would require gun owners to buy liability insurance — much as car owners are required to buy auto insurance. Doing so would give a financial incentive for safe behavior, they hope, as people with less dangerous weapons or safety locks could qualify for lower rates.
“I believe that if we get the private sector and insurance companies involved in gun safety, we can help prevent a number of gun tragedies every year,” said David P. Linsky, a Democratic state representative in Massachusetts who wants to require gun owners to buy insurance. He believes it will encourage more responsible behavior and therefore reduce accidental shootings. “Insurance companies are very good at evaluating risk factors and setting their premiums appropriately,” he added.
Groups representing gun owners oppose efforts to make insurance mandatory, arguing that law-abiding people should not be forced to buy insurance to exercise their constitutional right to bear arms. But some groups, including the National Rifle Association, endorse voluntary liability policies for their members. And as several states pass laws making it easier for people to carry concealed weapons and use them for self-defense, some gun groups are now selling policies to cover some of the legal costs stemming from self-defense shootings.
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