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Mandatory Liability Insurance For Gun Owners

The latest in a long line of backdoor gun control proposals is a call for all gun owners to be forced to buy liability insurance policies as a condition of owning firearms.

Let’s take a look at what this is likely to entail. First, a gun owner clearly would be required to list each firearm in their possession, which is on its face plenty of reason to reject this idea. Then, we’d likely have to open our homes for inspection to prove our firearm storage provisions meet some arbitrary standard. I’m sure premiums would be increased for those who carry in public under the authority of a carry license, due to some arbitrary perceived risk. Will we have to prove our level of training beyond what is legally required to carry?

Let’s look at why insurance might be necessary. Liability insurance is nothing more than financing of risk. We require liability insurance on motor vehicles, since accidents are a common occurrence and cause property damage and injury that often costs many thousands of dollars. In most accidents, someone is at fault and liable for the costs of the damage caused. Most drivers cannot afford to cover those costs out of pocket, so they need to carry insurance.

When the State does not enforce strict liability insurance requirements, we see a large number of liability judgments that never get paid. Many people become victims of the financial irresponsibility of others. I’ve known people who have lost their vehicle and who were badly injured through no fault of their own when a person who hit them had neither assets nor insurance. Some of these irresponsible drivers had already lost their license for a previous conviction of driving without insurance. Their victims are forced to drain whatever assets they had in order to pay for the medical bills, and often lost their ability to make a living and provide for their family. Meanwhile, the offending driver often walks away, buys another cheap car, and continues driving with no real consequence.

Now let’s take this to the discussion of gun ownership. Is there some epidemic of lawful gun owners causing property damage and bodily injury to innocent parties, then failing to be financially responsible after a court finds them liable? Not only is there no epidemic, statistics show lawful gun owners are among the safest, most law-abiding, and most responsible segments of our entire population. The fact that a tiny percentage of handgun licensees ever have their licenses revoked supports these statistics. Further, when a law-abiding gun owner uses a firearm in legitimate self-defense, they are protected by law from criminal and civil liability in most states.

But what about criminals with guns? Criminals certainly won’t participate in this backdoor gun control scheme. They aren’t going to insure their illegally owned firearms. Is further discussion of this point even necessary?

The only legitimate reason to require mandatory liability insurance on an object is to protect the public from a problem like the one seen with uninsured drivers. The problem of uninsured drivers is clear and well-documented. The law abiding gun owner not only is not causing injuries and property damage, there are certainly no significant numbers of unsatisfied judgments languishing on court records, waiting for a lawful gun owner to take responsibility for their actions.

Those who want to artificially make firearm ownership prohibitively expensive are being disingenuous about their true goals. They have learned from experience that political assaults on gun rights are very unpopular in most jurisdictions, since people are far smarter than they give them credit for. This insurance idea is nothing more than a disguised attempt to price firearms out of the reach of those who can least afford to be without them. Regular people cannot well afford to live in nice, safe neighborhoods with gated access and private security. Lawful access to firearms is their most efficient option for personal self defense. The idea to require mandatory liability insurance as a condition of gun ownership needs to be soundly defeated in the court of public opinion, before it ever has a chance to gain traction in the various legislatures across our country.