Legislation has been introduced in six states that would make gun insurance mandatory for all gun owners. New York, Hawaii, Washington, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts would require government-mandated firearms insurance, and several insurance companies are considering offering such a product.
In fact, the National Rifle Association offers scaled down coverage called Carry Guard right now in all 50 states. The organization’s website states rather dramatically that: “There is a whole team of lawyers attached to every bullet that leaves the barrel of your weapon. If the suspect goes down, even if you’re justified in shooting, we guarantee you the world is going to come crashing down on you.”
Should every gun owner be required to buy liability insurance? After all, if you drive a car, you are required by every state in the U.S. to have liability insurance. So, if drivers have to have auto insurance, why shouldn’t gun owners have to have gun owner’s insurance?
First of all, courts nationwide have determined that driving is a privilege. And not a (second amendment) right as defended by gun owners. A driver is generally on a public highway, built with taxpayer funds, and the “rules of the road” require liability insurance. It should be pointed out that a driver is not required to have either a driver’s license or insurance if the vehicle is driven on private property. I taught my kids and assorted nieces and nephews to drive at our family camp in rural Louisiana, where they could practice on dirt roads. No license or insurance necessary.
Based on my experience as a former Louisiana insurance commissioner, I can also tell readers that the cost of such proposed gun liability insurance would not come cheap. New York is presently considering in their legislature a proposal to require every gun owner to have a minimum of $1 million in liability coverage.
I have not sat down with insurance actuaries to figure out specifically what the premium would be, but I would estimate that a gun owner is looking at a minimum of $2,000 a year to pay for such insurance. The insurance premium could be significantly more for someone living in the inner city. Such a cost would price the ownership of a gun outside the reach of the average citizen.
Unless the activity to be insured is considered a privilege, there is no requirement or a “right” to insure any object or undertaking. I do not have to insure my house, but it just makes good financial sense to do so. There is no requirement that an individual have life insurance. One makes such a choice to protect their loved ones when they die. Many people have general liability insurance coverage on any activity that might subject them to a lawsuit. That would include protection against a lawsuit involving a gun accident. But purchasing such insurance is not mandatory. It’s a choice.
With so much interest in gun safety, numerous ideas will be floated in an effort to regulate gun ownership. Certainly there are some people who should not be in the possession of a gun. To many gun owners, the issue is about restrictions on hunting. But to others living in crime-infested areas, and in the face of violent criminal threats, your weapon and your wits may be all you have to protect yourself.
There are no easy answers here. But it’s unrealistic to think that gun fatalities will decline simply by making gun insurance mandatory.
“Democracy is two wolfs and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.” Benjamin Franklin, 1759
Peace and Justice
Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.