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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 2:30PM

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 2:12PM
Brilliant idea and one that could reduce the accessibility of weapons to the insane. Imagine if people with so called assault weapons had to have a million dollar policy. Wouldnt the insurance "evaluator" have seen a mentally unbalanced son in the home of the Newtown shooter and refused the policy? Thats something the govt and all the anti weapon laws wont do. But a big insurance policy would. This is the first idea that really might do something about reducing the abuse of weapons by those that shouldnt have them without restricting the rights of those that want them.
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 2:07PM
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 2:05PM
Next on the list "Broken Rubber" Insurance.

.....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 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 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.
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