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Can insurance stop gun violence?

A proposal has surfaced in a number of states to require gun owners to buy liability insurance.

By MSN Money Partner Feb 11, 2013 12:58PM

This post comes from Jay MacDonald at partner site


Bankrate logoAs long as we're engaged in a heated national debate on ways to curb gun violence, let's ask the obvious question: What role might insurance play in making our neighborhoods safer?


Image: Criminal with gun © Flying Colours Ltd, Digital Vision, Getty ImagesLegislators in Massachusetts invited insurance into the discussion last month when they proposed a state law that would require gun owners to purchase liability insurance in the event one of their firearms should cause injury or death.


The proposal, which has surfaced in several other states, comes in the wake of the December slayings of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Such mandatory insurance coverage could include incentive discounts for gun owners who take firearms safety courses and store their weapons properly.


In addition, the bill would enable insurance companies to do what law enforcement agents cannot under current Massachusetts law: enter a person's home to verify that guns are secured. That's a step that could be taken before a liability policy is issued.


The proposed gun insurance law does not address how much liability insurance would be required or whether coverage under a homeowners insurance policy would be sufficient. But it does state that those found to be in possession of an uninsured gun would face a fine of between $500 and $5,000 or up to a year in jail.

State Rep. David Linsky, the bill's sponsor, says there are ample precedents that insurance used for the public good can save lives. "Insurance companies were able to discourage smoking through the marketplace and make cars safer through the marketplace," he observed.


Gun rights activists have been quick to denounce the bill as what they call another misguided attempt to saddle law-abiding gun owners with unnecessary regulation. They maintain that such a law would penalize those who buy and own guns legally while having little impact on those who acquire weapons illegally.


"Now we're going to have insurance companies telling us how we are supposed to be trained and where we are going to store our guns?" asked Jim Wallace, executive director of the Gun Owners Action League in Massachusetts.


But in the wake of the Sandy Hook slayings, the idea of inviting insurance into the discussion was welcomed by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, who co-chairs Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.


"It's time that we think about alternative ways that we can effectively deal with gun violence," Warren said. "We need better research. We need better understanding. We need to try different approaches to protect our children."


What are your thoughts? Would a gun liability insurance law stem gun violence in America?


More on and MSN Money:

Feb 11, 2013 2:00PM
Another attempt to burden responsible, law abiding taxpayers, while doing nothing to prevent the perpetrators of gun violence from their criminal acts.  Maybe people who have been treated for mental illness should be required to carry liablility insurance, or maybe those who have been prescribed anti-depressant narcotics should be required to carry liability insurance.  Almost as ridiculous as attempting to hold manufacturer's liable for the misuse/criminal use of their products.
Feb 11, 2013 2:07PM
To answer the questions...

Should gun owners be required to purchase liability insurance? Absolutely not.

Would a gun liability insurance law stem gun violence in America? Absolutely not.

It's a stupid idea brought about by an anti-liberty, anti-individual philosophy. The best way to "stem gun violence" is to not legally disarm individuals - or to refrain from infringing in any way on their absolute right to self-defense. It's a pretty simple concept.
Feb 11, 2013 2:30PM

Lets just put the criminals in jail and keep them there.


Then there will be no need to "re-invent the wheel" with stupid ideas like gun owners insurance.


70% of crimes committed with guns are committed by criminals with prior convictions for gun crimes.


Catch and release, it isn't just for fishing anymore !


Put them in jail. Keep them there for a long time. This will solve more problems than gun problems as well.

It's time tested and it works.  Anything else is just left wing garbage...End of story.


Feb 11, 2013 2:08PM
May as well start building bigger jails. I am tired of paying PENALTIES for crimes I have not committed and have no intention of committing. LOCK ME UP!!!!!!!!!!! I WILL NOT BUY LIABILITY INSURANCE!!!!!!
Feb 11, 2013 2:39PM

Just another end around play to dismantle the 2nd amendment. Who defines "safe storing of a weapon" ?  If a person, or a couple never has children in the home, there should be no objection to a loaded weapon in the drawer of a night stand, or on a coffee table for that matter. Those living in a high crime area are probably in a low income situation and would only be further burdened by this ridiculous law.

Here's a novel idea for the wizards of Washington. Classify gang activity as domestic terrorism. Your sorry *ss goes to a black hole somewhere and you get no lawyer and you have no rights. You kill someone, you get the needle and I personally don't care if you are only 12.

Feb 11, 2013 2:48PM
The answer is simple...  NO.    The Constitution says the RIGHT shall not be infringed, that means it cannot have taxes applied to it, or require any limiting factors.  Like sales taxes cannot be applied to printed media.   Even requiring fees is UNCONSTITUTIONAL.   

Do you need liability insurance to exercise Free Speech?  How about liability insurance to VOTE?
How about liability insurance to get an abortion?

Sorry this would be in front of the Supreme Court right away, and struck down.

Pretty much any law, regulation or executive order that limits, taxes, or places requirements on this right is not Constitutional, plain and simple...

 If they don't do anything to eliminate those that are not honest gun owners, then the alternative is for all of us to be dishonest gun owners. 


All you gun owners better vote this coming fall for those that do not want to take away your rights. 


For all of you that don't own firearms, you better vote for the right to own firearms so the Gov't doesn't enforce their brand of tyranny on you next.


.....and the stupidity just keeps rolling from politicians mouths. Don't you think that insurance companies and lawyers now have to much input into the US government as it is?

It's either one or both of them putting their hands in our pocket to much because that is where major influence comes from.

Come on people, pay attention to who you vote for.

Feb 11, 2013 1:59PM
I imagine that any such laws - outside of California and the liberal northeast - would be very dangerous for police officers to try to enforce and would make a political career a very risky profession. 

The clowns who advocate for and propose these laws are playing with fire.
Feb 11, 2013 2:05PM
Next on the list "Broken Rubber" Insurance.
Feb 11, 2013 4:03PM
What a wonderful idea!  I also think people should be required to purchase stupidity insurance so that they can continue to exercise their First Amendment rights (others could file claims when the person says something stupid), media should be required to purchase liar insurance, churches should have to purchase anti-proselytism insurance, groups must purchase gathering insurance, the government should have to purchase anti-quartering insurance, and individuals should have to purchase anti-cruel and unusual punishment and search and seizure insurance.  Or we could just respect the Constitution.  
Feb 11, 2013 3:28PM
The highest crime and welfare rates are where there is the highest density of democrats.
Feb 11, 2013 3:51PM
To: K4chat, that is a typical liberal idea. Using yet another agency outside of government that is being attacked by the government to do their dirty work for them. Do you really think an insurance representative would have recognized a mentally disturbed young man in his own home as being a threat to having a gun? Are the insurance agents now Professional medical therapists? What if you were sitting in your living room with your upset teenager that wants to do something and you deny them that right? Then you have to yell at them to get your point across. It happens in every household everyday. It's time you take responsibility for your kids actions yourself and stop expecting someone elst to do it for you. The insurance companies are already in your business more than they should be. So is the government. The only way to stop gun violence is to make a crime comitted with a gun a Federal offense and give a mandatory 10 yr. jail system. No chance for early dismissal. Problem solved.
President Obama said gun control was important "even it it saves one life".   Maybe  he should rediscover Abortions in America and prevent the millions of deaths annually.
Feb 11, 2013 4:51PM
wow, this is a good idea.

i can subsidize all the criminals and make the insurance companies richer at the same time!

this is a great idea ...
Feb 11, 2013 4:01PM
I wish the NRA would bring a lawsuit forward to stop the collection of Sales Taxes on weapons.

These should be exempt. like newspapers...   Isn't there one lawyer out there to bring this suit?

Poll taxes and newspaper taxes are not Constitutional...   Why are Gun taxes?
Feb 11, 2013 4:57PM

"Would a gun liability insurance law stem gun violence in America?"


The short answer is "no."  Individuals set on illegal use of a firearm are not going to buy the insurance.  As the article rightly states, this penalizes law-abiding persons while having ZERO effect on criminal behavior.  Comparing it to smoking or car safety is a sham since neither were illegal to begin with.


We have laws that criminalize use of a weapon.  Guns are not the only weapons, nor are they the only ranged weapons -- a recurve bow can be bought without even a background check and it is just as lethal.  Punish the criminals, not the innocent....or has everyone forgotten what principles we founded this country on?

Feb 11, 2013 4:32PM
Any American without a criminal record should not even have to register a firearm. (enough with the "assault rifle bs"). We all are liable if we commit a crime with our weapons, well maybe not the criminal law breaker in this time in America's history. You cannot justify confiscation of firearms using logic, so someone always has to come up with bs rules that have no effect whatsoever in violent society.
Feb 11, 2013 4:59PM
I think it is fine to make those who own guns illegally buy violence insurance.......... heck when they come in to buy the insurance the cops can pick them up........ there's your sign... problem solved.
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