People are required to insure cars, boats and motorcycles for liability. Why? Because they may do harm to others.

Guns should be required to carry liability insurance as well.  I confess I had never thought of this before, until Nada Lemming suggested it in another diary. The more I think about it, the more I like the idea.

Gun owners want to make the case that guns are just another recreational item. As one puts it in today's New York Times article "Many Owners Say Semiautomatic Weapons Are Just Another Hobby,"

“Some people crochet, some people shop, some people shoot guns.”

The difference, of course, is that guns are made to kill, as I argued the other day in another diary. Entire laboratories devote their energies to making bullets more deadly, sights more accurate, and the weapons themselves lighter and easier to carry.

We're not going to get to serious gun control measures until we deal with the reality that the gun industry has successfully, over roughly two decades, managed to convince society that semiautomatic handguns and rifles are mere "toys." And clearly they are not toys.

Here's where liability insurance comes in. We all know that cars are consumer items, with lots of great features and often fun to drive. But they are heavy projectiles that can, in the wrong hands, do a lot of damage. Liability insurance makes car owners more careful about who drives their car, and when and in what condition.

Requiring separate liability insurance for each gun, at the point of purchase, will hold gun owners responsible for where their gun is and who is using it. (I'm talking about a policy that covers weapons specifically, rather than merely grouping them under umbrella insurance). It will encourage owners to buy safety locks, and to stow their weapons carefully, and probably separately from their ammunition. It may also slow the stockpiling of weapons, which has been a frightening development in recent years.

Gun ownership may be a recreational thing. As one gun owner put it in the Times article,

“It’s a challenge to see how well you can do....It’s like bowling or any other kind of sport. You want to see if you can do it better the next time.”
I see the appeal of target shooting. I get it. I don't want to deny anyone a challenge or a way to relieve stress. But if liability insurance will make it harder for that gun to get into someone else's hands, I'm all for it.

6:19 AM PT: Thanks for the rec list and for the great comments and debate below.  And hat tip to cosmic debris for links to articles on the subject that I hadn’t seen:

Congress Should Push For Mandatory Gun Insurance

Newtowns new reality: Using liability insurance to reduce gun deaths

Is Gun Liability Insurance the Next Big Thing?

Originally posted to political junquie on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 04:28 AM PST.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA.

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