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Suppose firearms makers had to get insurance on every weapon they put on the market & any time that weapon was used to facilitate a wrongful death, the company which engineered, manufactured, advertised & sold it was held financially responsible.
Well, they'd have to get insurance on every gun they made. Insurance companies would come up with the appropriate fiduciary metric, they'll insure pretty much anything. Then, through the magic of the free market, the actual price to society will be reflected in the price of the armament. Then the onus on stopping gun violence falls on the manufacturers, not on the government.
A gunmaker who deals with a shop in Virginia & keeps getting sued for deaths in New York will make an adjustment when it starts costing them money. I think you'd be surprised at how innovative they could be with suggestions for legislation when it hits them in the wallet. They might be just a little less innovative with the kill power of their product, too. If it hits them in the pocket.
Now I know that the firearms makers would say, "Hey, we just design, manufacture & market these machines. Sure, we do it with the purpose of making the easiest to operate & most lethal tool for killing people we can, but we don't know who's going to end up with it, or what they will do with it."
To which I'd reply, "Yeah. I know."


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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (12+ / 0-)

    Who cares what banks may fail in Yonkers. Long as you've got a kiss that conquers.

    by rasbobbo on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 07:27:54 PM PST

  •  I had been thinking of this (3+ / 0-)

    A bit analogous to having to carry insurance to register an automobile.

    •  Yep. Insuring the owners might make more sense, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hey338Too, radical simplicity

      but that would entail registration & while nobody seems to much worry about the government coming to take their car, some people are extremely concerned with the government or UN coming for their guns.  
      So just put the people who make the real money on the hook for the damages.

      Who cares what banks may fail in Yonkers. Long as you've got a kiss that conquers.

      by rasbobbo on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 07:41:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I believe it should be a combination of the gun... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rasbobbo, radical simplicity

        ... and the owner.  Logic tells us that a semi-automatic rifle in the hands of a teenager in an urban area is inherently riskier than in the hands of a college educated middle aged family man living in a rural environment with a sizable net worth, and the insurance premiums should reflect the differences those risks.

        Sure, a college kid may win a Porshe in a raffle, but after he pays his insurance premiums for a month or two, the Porshe is out the door in favor of a 1979 Chrysler K car with 300K miles on it with an insurance premium of $70 / month.

        I haven't been here long enough to be considered a Kossack, does that mean that I'm just a sack?

        by Hey338Too on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 08:04:54 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thing is, if the manufacturers are culpable (3+ / 0-)

          it's on them to work it out. When it starts costing them multi millions, they'll be the ones pushing for stricter control over who gets & how they are allowed to get their product.

          Who cares what banks may fail in Yonkers. Long as you've got a kiss that conquers.

          by rasbobbo on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 08:09:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  rasbobbo - no chance (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rasbobbo, Neuroptimalian

            The civil liability of gun manufacturers was intensively litigated in the past and the manufacturers won in court. Congress does not want to put gun manufacturers out of business or even add some significant new cost. They are going to try and put in place some sensible gun control and to pass it will require at least some GOP support. Even in states and cities with very strict gun control no one tries to place liability on gun manufacturers, who sell wholesale, and for this round of negotiations novel laws that make bipartisan support harder aren't going to be added into the mix.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 08:25:38 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Of course litigated is different than legislated (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              radical simplicity

              & my expectations of that cotillion of gutless buffoons we call the Congress are very very low, but how horrible would it be if people couldn't afford a few dozen guns. These little private armories are really necessary?
              Seems to me absurd that these companies can make piles of money cranking out their lethal product & just walk away from all responsibility from their use.

              Who cares what banks may fail in Yonkers. Long as you've got a kiss that conquers.

              by rasbobbo on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 08:51:19 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  rasbobbo - I understand your frustration (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                but these are companies making a legal product that conforms to all international, US, state and local laws. If we want to change the economics of manufacturing guns we need to change the laws, but we need to take small steps before we can run. For the last twenty years we have not even been able to take baby steps.

                "let's talk about that"

                by VClib on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 09:04:00 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I can remember when the outrage was about (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  kids in gangs with zip guns. No, we're not taking any steps, baby or otherwise, just a huge slide back & down down down.

                  Who cares what banks may fail in Yonkers. Long as you've got a kiss that conquers.

                  by rasbobbo on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 09:23:05 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

          •  One problem: (0+ / 0-)

            car manufacturers do not insure drivers, nor do they screen drivers as to their suitability to drive before deciding whether to sell to them.  It's the insurance companies themselves which do that ... and take the risk if they're wrong.  There is no constitutional provision that would allow requiring any business to begin conducting a second business if it doesn't want to.  

            Car manufacturers are held accountable if they make a defective product, not for the behavior of purchasers.  And what about buyers of used cars / guns?  Who'd be responsible then?  The individual seller?  Antiques are resold all the time, and they are just as deadly.

            "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

            by Neuroptimalian on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 10:51:34 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  The 20 year old Man (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rasbobbo, Jackson L Haveck

          Who just shot up an elementary school was a well-educated man from a wealthy community, whose father works for an investment banking firm.

          The kids who shot up Columbine high school were from a wealthy, suburban community, with well-off, well-educated parents.

          The 25 year-old man who shot up the theater in Colorado was well educated, and came from the wealthy, suburban Torrey Highlands village of San Diego.

          Your image of who is a safe gun owner may need some adjusting....

          •  All gun owners are safe. Until they're not. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            radical simplicity

            They're all responsible citizens. Until they're not. Then there is blood & tears & shock that anyone would actually use something marketed as a superior killing machine to, you know, kill.

            Who cares what banks may fail in Yonkers. Long as you've got a kiss that conquers.

            by rasbobbo on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 09:34:44 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  With the exceptions of the Aurora and VT... (0+ / 0-)

            ... shooter, the insurance on the weapons would have been paid for by the parents.  The premiums would have been based not only on the parents, but on the situation they are living in.  My guess is that a kid in the house would automatically raise the rate for the firearm because of the risk involved.  If the kid had problems with the law, or got bad grades the premiums would have been raised - just like care insurance.

            As for Aurora and VT, those weapons were procured by the murderers.  For each weapon they procured, they would have needed to purchase insurance (like with a car) before they could take delivery.  Again, I would assume that a 20 something with an AR-15 is going to pay a dear premium because of the algorithms used to generate the premium structures.

            I haven't been here long enough to be considered a Kossack, does that mean that I'm just a sack?

            by Hey338Too on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 10:29:55 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  The problem is back in the 1990's or so, the gun (4+ / 0-)

    manufacturers saw the writing on the wall with what happened in the asbestos industry and got laws passed that they couldn't be held liable for the mayhem caused by their products.  So your idea is unfortunately a non-starter.

  •  Good if gun owners would be responsible (7+ / 0-)

    for all costs associated with their use of the gun, including paying the victim (or victim's family if deceased) for loss of income and pain and suffering, and indemnifying the health insurance company for the medical expenses.

    I am sick and tired of hearing Republicans talk about personal responsibility.  If they truly believe in personal responsibility let them be responsible for all damages caused by the guns they own.  

    •  Cleaning the environment of lead ... (3+ / 0-)

      But lead doesn’t mix with children and the environment. Lead is one of the most deadly toxins on the planet. Poisonous Pastime documents in detail the ways in which the shooting range industry is poisoning children and heavily polluting the environment with lead and other toxins:

          Most ammunition used at ranges is made of lead....between 400 and 600 tons of lead are used each day to make bullets and “a high proportion of it is left to clutter up shooting ranges.” It is no wonder,then, that numerous studies—since at least the 1970s—have documented that outdoor shooting ranges are major sources of lead pollution in the environment, and that indoor shooting ranges are significant sources of lead poisoning among people who use them.

      "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

      by indycam on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 07:56:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  night cat - if you shoot someone with a gun (2+ / 0-)

      and it's not in self defense, you are not only a criminal but also have the type of civil liability you suggest in your comment.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 08:27:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Doubt young Mr Lanza will do much time, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        radical simplicity

        much less be paying out on any civil litigation. Bushmaster, on the other hand, will be selling their weapon like hotcakes & making mega jack off this tragedy.

        Who cares what banks may fail in Yonkers. Long as you've got a kiss that conquers.

        by rasbobbo on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 09:03:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's certainly true (3+ / 0-)

          I went online to the website to look for assault weapons. You can't sell guns online but you can see what is available at a Walmart near you. Walmart is the largest retailer of guns in the US. I just checked five cities in the Mountain West, Soutwest and West but in every case every assault rifle was out of stock. It would appear that over this weekend Walmart sold out of its entire inventory of assault rifles. I have also heard that ammunition is flying off the shelves. I am not surprised.

          "let's talk about that"

          by VClib on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 09:09:29 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Mrs. Lanza's estate will almost certainly be sued (0+ / 0-)

          for her actions which contributed to the killings.  She knew her son was mentally ill yet not only taught him to shoot and made it possible for him to have access to her guns, she most likely exacerbated his mental condition with her Doomsday Prep activities.

          Unfortunately, winning those lawsuits won't result in the resurrection of the dead.

          "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

          by Neuroptimalian on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 10:59:45 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Massachusetts tried something once... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rasbobbo, radical simplicity

    saying that certain guns were 'defective' and as such could not be sold. The HK USP was a pistol used by virtually every special operator in the world. The company that made it is know for its ultra high quality but, under some definition, it was adjudicated to be 'defective'...the ban on selling these pistols was lifted along with a host of others two or so years ago.

  •  ALEC has boilerplate ready to prevent this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The various bills labeled as liability reduction, liability limitations, tort reform, and other misleading names have already been enacted into law by many states.

    This Tort Reform article from PRWatch provides an example of ALEC's effects on limiting the rights of victims.

    Not only do states regulate liability provisions, each state also regulates the insurance businesses, not the federal government.  So any attempts to regulate these things at the federal level will be met with overwhelming resistance from the states and the NRA and insurance lobbyists.

    As it stands today, the gun manufacturers, the distributors, and even the shooters in states with Stand Your Ground laws, it isn't possile to even file a civil liability lawsuit. Trayvon Martin's parents cannot file a civil liability lawsuit against George Zimmerman, for one example.

    In this context, there's no liability that needs to be covered by an insurance policy.

    This needs to be a strong federal gun liability Act in order to have any effect at all. Something this broad won't ever pass. It would be creating and entirely new insurance industry that includes a mandate for every single gun owner in the US.

    Not exactly something that I'd like to see happen. Unless I had no scruples and wanted to get rich by starting my own insurance company that preys on violence. Another bad concept, ya think?

    "Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it"

    by GrumpyOldGeek on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 08:23:18 PM PST

  •  A few years ago... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rasbobbo, radical simplicity

    following yet another mass shooting, I did some research.

    I'm not going to dig up the links again, you'll just have to trust me.

    Turns out the Consumer Products Safety Commission had triggered a huge recall of kitchen knife blocks because the holes were not drilled deep enough to contain the entire blade. This was deemed dangerous because if you grasped the knife in a certain way you might cut your fingers while pulling it out of the block.

    I'm not against policing knife blocks. And I'm certainly anti-cut finger. But it strikes me as absurd that our government is more committed to the safety of kitchen knife blocks that the capacity of assault rifle magazines.

    I understand the CPSC apparently has no jurisdiction. I'm sure they do their best. But what the hell?

  •  I can't see how that would work. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Guns, unlike dynamite are not inherently dangerous.  There is no leakage of nitroglycerine or the need to turn boxes of ammunition upside down every six months.  

    You would need to establish a duty of care and that would be difficult.  If the manufacturer produces a sound design and correctly manufactures it, they can't have much liability if they sell to an FFL holding distributor.  Doing otherwise could have some interesting legal consequences.  

    Would this mean that pharmaceutical manufactures who follow GMP and follows the law for testing and marketing their product would be legally liable if the users of their drugs became addicted because of the proscribing practices of a doctor?

    Would this mean that GM would need to insure every sports car they produce or include an ignition interlock to prevent drunk driving?  

    The question I am asking is what would happen if everyone had to follow the same rules.  

    Under capitalism man exploits man, under communism the roles are reversed.

    by DavidMS on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 08:35:16 PM PST

    •  I'd be happy if guns were regulated like a sports (0+ / 0-)

      car. License them & their operators & mandate liability insurance. Be a nice change.

      Who cares what banks may fail in Yonkers. Long as you've got a kiss that conquers.

      by rasbobbo on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 09:45:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No need for it... (0+ / 0-)

        Most everyone with any any assets or sense has liability insurance.  People without assets generally don't need it, as sueing them isn't worth it.  If you require liability insurance, you will price many people out of owning guns or the NRA will step in and fill the gap will cheap insurance for its members.  

        Licensing would be resisted by the right.  You could accomplish most of the same by requiring a gun safety class.  

        Under capitalism man exploits man, under communism the roles are reversed.

        by DavidMS on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 06:02:53 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Interesting topic (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Neuroptimalian, rasbobbo

    Though your title is off.  Indemnify basically means "to make whole" or "restore to previous condition".  So when your home insurer pays your claim, they are indemnifying you for a loss.  When a liability insurer protects you from a lawsuit by covering the expense and settlement, they are indemnifying you  You can not indemnify an object.  

    I work in insurance and risk management.  Some items and things carry with them strict liability, where it is basically assumed that if something went wrong then liability almost automatically adheres due to the inherently dangerous nature of the item or thing.  The keeping of wild animals is a strict liability, dynamite/explosives is another.

    However something has to go wrong to "trigger" the injury.  As such you can't really stick the manufacturers unless the weapon is defective.

    I disagree with Grumpy Old Geek above though.  There is an opening I think to tie liability to anyone who sells or gifts a gun on the unregulated market, provided you can trace it back, or a retailer who takes shortcuts with the background check.   Similarly, in the Newtown case, had the mother survived, she might have been found negligent in training her mentally ill child in the use of weapons, and not securing those weapons properly.

    That said, usually liability insurance would exclude a "Newtown" claim as these policies only cover the use of force ("intentional acts") if and as necessary to protect life and property, they would absolutely not provide coverage for an intentional criminal act.

    Case in point were the suits against Klebold and Harris's parents and the folks that sold them their weapons ( ).  According to this article and others, their homeowners policy was initially involved in the defense, but then backed out or sued to not have their "duty to defend" invoked.  

  •  How about gun manufacturers (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    promise to do everything in their power to guarantee that their weapons are not used to murder people, and for every person that is murdered with their product, they will voluntarily publicly cut off one of their own fingers and eat it?

    In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

    by Troubadour on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 11:11:08 PM PST

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