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Requiring gun owners or buyers to provide insurance that will protect anyone injured is one way to address the problem of gun injuries and deaths.  The system that I prefer is one that works on a No-Fault basis, eliminating lawsuits, and provides an incentive for each successive owner to have insurance, in order to release the previous insurer from responsibility for new incidents.  I wrote about this system and received a number of comments with the most common concerns being: requiring insurance is an interference with a right, insurance will protect criminals and wrongdoers, and insurance companies are greedy and corrupt.  To see how the system would work, you can look at the earlier diary.  I plan to address all these concerns, the first in this diary.

The Supreme Court found gun ownership to be an individual right in the Heller Case in 2008 for federally controlled areas such as the District of Columbia and extended it to the state in the McDonald v. Chicago case in 2010.  The Heller decision attempts to set some rules as to what restrictions work to ban traditional uses for lawful purposes and were found to be unconstitutional, but there is a lot still to be decided.  Importantly for the purpose of requiring insurance is the following statement, made somewhat as an aside but prominent in the syllabus.

The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.

The insurance scheme I’m advocating requires only that manufacturers and importers provide insurance.  Any requirement that purchasers or individuals acquiring guns get insurance, is a contractual one by the seller intending to satisfy the seller’s contract with the seller’s insurer and perhaps reduce the expense to the seller.  This would be the only way for an existing insurer to give up responsibility. It should be a condition on the commercial sale of arms.  There are numerous lower court decisions concerning the second amendment since the Heller decision allowing various regulations.

Bringing the two or three hundred million guns existing now in the United States is a somewhat different matter.  Simply requiring an owner to get the required type of insurance is straightforward; but, whether it would be found constitutional by future courts is in the future with all the politics, legal and historical inputs and sheer chance that is implied.  The insurance needs a general information system connecting gun serial numbers or bullet scans to insurers but need not have information on owners.  This privacy for owners is a great advantage of no-fault rather than liability based insurance.  I think that it’s likely to be found to be acceptable, because insurance pricing would be reasonable especially for the protected traditional and lawful purposes so should not be an excessive burden on those uses; but that’s just my opinion.  There are also other ways to bring existing guns—The legislation setting up the system could establish strict liability for guns not in the system.

Even if existing guns are not covered, most of the benefits of gun insurance will be in place fairly quickly.  Various studies has found that most illegal guns involved in violence are fairly new.  An ATI report show median time from purchase to crime for guns seized at 5.7 years with an average age in a general gun owners survey average of 13 years with the one owner.  Illegal holders turn over quickly so stopping the conversion of legal status to an illegal one would greatly reduce the number of guns in improper hands.

Cross posted in guninsuranceblog

Originally posted to guninsuranceblog on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 08:09 AM PST.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA and Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA).

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Comment Preferences

  •  good post- this topic always a good post. (3+ / 0-)

    i've been pushing hard for this as well.

    we all need to- but instead of choir preaching-
    we need to strongly advance this proposal outside the Kos bubble.

    because of threat to profit and liability- carriers would police the hell out of the insured.


    People who say they don't care what people think are usually desperate to have people think they don't care what people think. -George Carlin

    by downtownLALife on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 08:17:16 AM PST

  •  great idea (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hey338Too, DefendOurConstitution

    Also, it assists police in prosecuting criminals -

    they bust a street gang, several members have unliscensed, UNINSURED guns on them - giving another charge, and allowing those weapons to be more effectively traced to their source - imagine-

    When a gun is manufactured

    1) The gun manufacturer has to have insurance on the weapon

    When it is sold wholesale

    2) The distributor or wholesaler has to have insurance

    When it is sold retail

    3) The retail distributor has to have insurance

    When it is sold to a buyer

    4) The buyer has to buy insurance on the spot

    At any point in that chain, if the insurance chain is broken, the liability falls on the last insurance holder to protect the weapon from being stolen (and to immediately report if it has)

    The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. --George Orwell

    by jgkojak on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 08:24:52 AM PST

    •  RE: aiding police (0+ / 0-)

      don't several states require weed to have tax stamps even if it is illegal in the state?  I seem to remember from my NORML days that this was an issue and it was found states could impose such a Catch-22  

  •  Do companies exist that provide or would provide (3+ / 0-)

    such insurance?

    What would the cost be?

    Notice: This Comment © 2013 ROGNM

    by ROGNM on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 08:32:02 AM PST

  •  I have a question about gun liability insurance (5+ / 0-)

    My question is this:

    In most kinds of liability insurance there is a condition that the insurance company won't pay out if the claim arises from criminal behaviour on the part of the insured.

    Last I checked shooting up a school, a movie theater or your local Congresswoman's voter outreach effort is a crime .

    So how would liability insurance have worked in say, Columbine?  (I'm deliberately using a somewhat distant rampage, rather than the more recent, still-raw event.) Would the insurance companies have said that the guns were used in a crime, so go pound salt?  

    If so, what is the practical point of having insurance? Claims for accidental injury might be relatively rare, and modest, compared to block buster shoot-em-ups where the sky would be the limit in tragedy and outrage.

    I'm not against it, just curious.


    •  question to the questioner (0+ / 0-)

      Does that also apply to no-fault insurance?  I thought no-fault meant there was no attempt to either ascribe blame or to attach criminality to an accident (such as a car being crashed during a bank robbery)
      I had never considered this aspect of no-fault before

    •  Liability vs No Fault (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Liability insurance is primarily to protect the gun owner, any protection for victims is because the insurance makes sure the owner has money to pay if they lose a lawsuit.  The kind of no-fault insurance I'm envisioning pays the victim directly and is for that purpose.  NY State No-Fault automobile insurance works that way if a car hits a pedestrian.  You can see details on guninsuranceblog.

    •  Compare to other insurance for your answer. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Homeowner's policies don't cover floods so the Federal government offers flood insurance. Business policies don't cover acts of war or acts of god, so those things require supplemental insurance coverage. Medicare only covers 80% of medical costs so fortunate seniors purchase Medigap policies. Auto insurance policies don't cover a driver who causes intentional property damage or sets their own car on fire.

      Etc. etc. etc.

      A waist is a terrible thing to mind.

      by edg on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 08:53:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  there has to be compromise as I note, I think, (0+ / 0-)

    it was the GA delegation calling for a loosening of gun laws.  The problem with reform is that there are those on either extreme who want an absolute solution to a complex problem.  Calling for a complete ban of all guns (yes even wallhangers) of all sorts forever is not a very productive position but neither is advocating TOW missiles for everyone.

    The bright spot is that SCOTUS refused to hear an appeal of an attempt overturn a ban on guns in church (TEC 9 Jesus?) which gives hope that the dialogue may be fruitful this time and we can reach some sort of real world solutions (because sadly, we will never completely do away with murder but we can reduce the event and try to prevent it)  

  •  Excellent idea and diary. Thanks. n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    A waist is a terrible thing to mind.

    by edg on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 08:46:49 AM PST

  •  Also need Taxes on Guns and Ammo (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Somebody has to pay for all the police patrols at schools and taxing the gun owners is only fair.

  •  Why limit insurance to only guns? (0+ / 0-)

    If a person is injured by another, what matters is the injury and the ability to receive financial compensation not if a gun was involved.  Why not just require liability insurance for everyone regardless of gun ownership?

    On an actuarial basis, insurance companies may want to charge higher rates to those who have guns, ride bicycles, play contact sports, engage in unprotected sex with strangers, etc..  or use other products or engage in activities that may be associated with higher deaths and injuries. Right now there are more annual deaths from hammers and clubs than from all rifles including assault rifles.  There are even more deaths from people using their fists and bare hands each year than from rifes.  Why require insurance coverage for less likely events while ignoring more likely events?

    Why limit the insurance requirement so narrowly, when the range of death and injury is so much broader?

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 09:02:30 AM PST

    •  Is there somewhere that we can see the ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... statistics you reference?

      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 Jan 07, 2013 at 10:00:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Here is the latest FBI data by state (0+ / 0-)

        The column labeled other weapons is overwhelming clubs, hammers, etc.

        The data is provided by state, so below are the sums of the states for 2011.

        Rifles   323
        Hands, feet, etc.  728

        The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

        by nextstep on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 10:53:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  But the rest of the list is important too, right? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Handguns: 6220 (49% of the total murders)
          Rifles: 323 (2.5% of the total murders)
          Shotguns: 356 (2.8% of the total murders)
          Unknown Firearms: 1684 (13% of the total murders)
          Knives / Cutting: 1694 (13% of the total murders)
          Other Weapons: 1659 (13% of the total murders)
          Hands / Feet: 728 (5% of the total murders)
          Note: the percentages are rounded off and may not total 100%

          Firearms account for 67% of the total murders in this survey.  With long guns accounting for roughly the same number statistically as hands and feet.  But certainly some of those "Unknown Firearms" are long guns too, which would then make them account for a higher number in the survey.  

          So we should definitely target handguns, right?

          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 Jan 07, 2013 at 11:22:39 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Homicides with Firearms overwhelming use (0+ / 0-)

            handguns that are quite ordinary, not exceptionally large magazines, not fully automatic and few rounds are fired.

            There can only be little impact if changes are limited to "assault weapons" as they are used in less than 1% of homicides, and the murderer could be just as destructive using a non-assault weapon.  

            The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

            by nextstep on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 11:38:51 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  So are we both arguing that any ban on... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              ... long guns won't do as much good relative to the murder rate than a ban on handguns?

              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 Jan 07, 2013 at 12:15:59 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Any policy change on Rifles will have little (0+ / 0-)

                effect because it is such a small part of the problem, so even a 100% effective policy against rifles will have little effect

                I actually prefer to see the focus be on solving the problems of urban violence, gangs, etc.,  Not only do these problems result in homicide and other violence, they create poverty, degrade quality of life, lives destroyed through drugs, contribute the the massive population in prisons, etc..

                The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

                by nextstep on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 12:29:56 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  This diary may be a start: (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  nextstep, DefendOurConstitution


                  Interesting compilation of information.  Some using the FBI links you cite.

                  A brief synopsis:

                  Conclusion: The most important factor for gun related murders is the State’s poverty rate and its economic inequality. Poverty is also the most important factor explaining gun related assaults. Race is the best predictor of gun use in robbers where States with lower minority populations have lower rates of robberies using guns. States with the highest rates of college graduates have the lowest rates for gun deaths, with gun ownership and percent urban contributing to more gun related deaths. The greater a State’s level of inequality, the more likely a gun is used in murder cases.

                  States with the highest rates of gun ownership have the highest suicide rates with greater urbanization having a contributing effect. Interestingly, greater inequality and college degrees are also contributing factors but they reduce the suicide rate.

                  Another interesting finding:
         you can see from the data below “Importance of Religion” is one of the better predictors. For gun murders, all murders, gun robberies, and guns as a percent of all murders, the importance of religion has a positive impact. That is States with a higher percent of their population claiming religion is important in their lives have higher murder rates. Important of religion was negatively associated with suicide rates.

                  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 Jan 07, 2013 at 12:38:17 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

      •  Here is data for 2005 to 2009 from FBI (0+ / 0-)

        It shows the homicide rate from hands & feet is more than twice the rate of rifle, which includes assault rifles.

        For example for 2009

        Hammers, Clubs, etc.  611
        Hands & Feet.  801
        Rifles  348

        The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

        by nextstep on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 11:07:34 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Statistically the numbers are the same... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ... as the previous list.  Handguns are by far the choice weapon for murder.  And total firearm related murder is at 67.5%

          More to your point.  It doesn't appear that there is a way to break out the murders by rifle type from the data we're given.  If it could be proven that 90% (or 60%) of the rifle murders were attributed to "assault style" weapons, would you change your mind?

          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 Jan 07, 2013 at 11:34:54 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  What is assault style? (0+ / 0-)

            The Assault Weapon Ban that expired targeted cosmetics that have no impact on lethality.  It targeted using plastic Vs wood for stocks, having a flash suppressor, a mount for a bayonet, etc..  

            The cartridge size used in many "assault weapons" is actually considered quite small (.223 ) and weak compared to "real" hunting cartridges.  Many states prohibit the use of these small cartridges in hunting larger game such as deer, elk, bear, wild boar, etc..

            I don't see a policy that results in people switching to more powerful and lethal cartridges as good policy.

            The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

            by nextstep on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 11:50:19 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  I'm pretty sure it is a REASONABLE restriction BUT (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cedwyn, DefendOurConstitution

    ... I question allowing Insurance Companies to have yet another free profit center.

    So IF it were a non-profit government insurance program, like flood insurance is. I would support it.

    In fact, ALL insurance should be a non-profit government agency, like the USPS. With Social Security's operating overhead, all of our insurance costs would go down on everything AND there would never be any bullshit of trying to find ways to weasel out of paying the claims.

  •  Seems okay at first (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    But as long as the courts hold that gun ownership is a right, mandatory insurance for the gun owner is a non-starter. It would be like saying you cannot meet on a corner and talk politics with three friends unless you have a "free speech insurance" policy or voting unless you pay a "poll tax".

    Most of the time such fees that are mandatory relate to public use of the item in question, like owning a car vs. taking it out on the roads.

    On the manufacturer side, you might have more luck, but I think the courts have ruled against that so far as well.

    No, I'm not equating free speech with carrying a gun, I'm just noting that if courts hold it to be a right, then you cannot apply things to it that would deny that right to a class of people that cannot pay an appropriate fee. What seems superficially reasonable easily has the ability to become arbitary and punitive, as things like the transvaginal ultrasound laws are for women seeking abortions in some states, or literacy tests for voting or even the numerous photo ID laws that came up prior to the 2012 elections. Conservatives and gun owners will be just as suspicious of liberal motives for mandatory insurance as liberals were about the motivations behind photo ID laws that "just happened" to disenfranchise groups of people that tended to vote Democratic.

    Conceptually speaking, those who would misuse the guns are the one least likely to buy the insurance, so if the goal is to reduce gun crime, I suspect it will be about as effective as car insurance curbs drunk driving.

    I do not want to sound like I am shooting down the idea in its entirety. The notion of having to be able to cover the costs of misuse of your property seems reasonable enough, and I actually approve of the notion for weapons that people want to take off of their own property (exceptions for taking it to or from a range, repair shop, etc.). This allows you to not lose ownership of a gun you just because you cannot pay insurance on it, you just cannot take it anywhere, much like losing car insurance does not make you lose your car.

    Applying this to something the courts consider a right is the sticky part.

  •  I think I have insurance...? It's called ....... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wayward Wind

    a fireproof, burglar proof, childproof electronic and tumbler with key, gun and valuable bolted to the floor safe.  It's very heavy to move.

    Cost me a lot when I bought it....  But well worth it.  I also keep (and have for years) what I buy, and will never re-sell what I own.  

    And no, I do not support the "wing nuttia" NRA but am very formally trained in the use and legal responsibilities of firearm ownership and keep my skill set up monthly on my private property along with having a CCW for my state that I take very seriously, and do not carry in public as I don't feel the need to do so.  I also believe that the 2nd Amendment needs to be looked again in terms of it's interpretation.  I also see the need for some oversight needed regarding this "ownership/rights thing" along with gun shows (went to one this past weekend - they always give some concern as to the activities taking place at these shows) as well with respect to a 50 state set of laws that protect the public with, and those without firearms.


    “The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.” — Marcus Aurelius

    by LamontCranston on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 12:23:22 PM PST

  •  Great idea guninsuranceblog! It certainly would (0+ / 0-)

    help to hold responsible those that are irresponsible and allow their firearms to be purchased for or otherwise used in a person's death or injury.

    Then they came for me - and by that time there was nobody left to speak up.

    by DefendOurConstitution on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 01:18:40 PM PST

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