It comes my way from a hyper-smart retired Navy commander who calls occasionally with suggestions. His latest: Require gun owners to carry liability insurance for the firearms they own.I like it. Seems to me it wouldn't even touch the Second Amendment argument so easily bandied about. You want a gun, fine. A simple regulation would require you to have each weapon insured in order to be legally registered.
Here’s how it would work. Before anyone could buy a gun or ammunition, he or she would have to acquire an insurance policy for it and present proof of that policy to the gun shop, gun-show dealer, or private seller. Current gun owners would also have to carry such insurance.
Such a requirement would quite literally put a premium — a market premium — on sanity and safety.
Now consider how an insurance requirement could change gun ownership. The more potentially lethal the weapon, the more a liability policy would cost. A hunter who wanted a pump-action shotgun or a lever- or bolt-action rifle — that is, firearms that don’t reload automatically after the trigger is pulled — would pay only a nominal fee. A traditional semi-automatic big-game rifle — a .308 or a .30-06 or a .30-30, say — with a limited magazine might cost just a little more to insure.Right. So the insurance companies will report to the authorities that your insurance is paid up. If your insurance lapses, then you turn in your weapon. And if your weapon is used in a crime, then the insurance company will compensate the victims and the state for the costs associated with the event.
But if you want or own a military-style semi-automatic with features like a pistol grip, which lets you spray fire from waist-level; a collapsible stock, which makes a weapon easier to conceal; or a high-capacity detachable magazine, well, insuring one of those would be far more expensive. That expense would not only discourage ownership of those types of weapons; it would also be a disincentive to accumulating an arsenal of guns.
For people who own simple revolvers or hunting rifles, have passed numerous training and safety courses, have cleared background checks, and have proven safe storage, the lowest possible premiums would be available. For those who insist on owning huge arsenals of semi-automatics, well, you'll have to pay to mitigate the risks of owning such things.
Marsha Cohen writing at SFGate adds more:
States may decide to take a "no-fault" position, requiring coverage for all harm caused by the gun, even without fault of the gun owner. Alternatively, they could require gun owners to insure only against their own negligence, and could legislatively declare certain types of behavior to demonstrate negligence. For example, states could declare that a gun stolen from a vehicle (except, perhaps, one locked in a trunk or additionally protected by a trigger lock) is the result of negligence. The states' choices will vary, but it will not take many years to determine whether this new strategy has an impact on gun-related harms, and which versions of a mandatory insurance law are most successful. Of course people will cheat, and people will lie.Reasonable regulations that vast majority of gun owners could accept in my view. Doesn't take away your right to go all Charles Bronson. Doesn't infringe on your right to fight government tyranny. Doesn't prevent you from owning the latest and greatest in mass death intruments. Simply put, you'll just need to make sure its insured.
They will cheat by ignoring the law. And they will lie about the nature of their guns, about their own criminal and mental health histories, about risky people who reside with them. And those are reasons, among many others, for pursuing a variety of measures to deal with our firearms-related public health crisis. But cheaters and liars will pay the price if they are caught: Those without proof of insurance can have their guns seized, be fined, and, at least for repeat violators or whose guns are used to cause harm, be charged with a crime.