(Update) ‘Time Is Ripe To Consider Liability Insurance For Gun Owners’


Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Hartford Courant political reporter Rick Green reports, Time Is Ripe To Consider Liability Insurance For Gun Owners:

As the gun debate heats up, one idea seems particularly suited for Connecticut to consider: liability insurance for gun owners.

This is the kind of mandatory insurance you have to get to drive a
car — and the kind of protection that costs more if you want to take
what the industry knows is a calculated risk.

* * *

Because I'm paying more to let my son drive, I'm also paying more
attention to make sure he drives safely. Advocates say the same could be
done for firearms: the more dangerous the gun, or the more unsafe the
home, the more you pay for insurance. While the idea for mandating
liability insurance has been floating around for years, no state has
ever tried it.

This wouldn't stop a shooting and other crimes, of course, but it could
add another layer of safety, perhaps making it more difficult for
mentally unstable people to access firearms. It might also protect gun
owners, keeping them away from high-risk situations.

"There is not one perfect solution here. There are a lot of
incremental steps that can each prevent a little bit of gun violence,''
said David Linsky, a state representative from Massachusetts who last
week introduced legislation requiring liability insurance for gun owners
in his state. [Massachusetts Bill Would Require Gun Liability Insurance].

"The bigger impact is to get the insurance industry involved in
trying to make guns safer. That's what happened with car insurance,''
Linsky said. "They may be able to, through the marketplace, change
people's behaviors."

The idea of requiring insurance for guns surfaced 25 years ago, in an
Alabama Law Review article about the Second Amendment by Nelson Lund, a
law professor at George Mason University.

"One of the problems with gun control measures is that they are
really designed in a way that substantially interferes with the rights
of law-abiding citizens while doing very little about the behavior of
criminals or irresponsible people,'' Lund said.

"My idea was to suggest an idea in which a statute might be drafted
that would be designed to inhibit the possession of firearms by
irresponsible people and do what liability insurance at least partly
does and that is compensate the victims of irresponsible behavior.''

Obviously, criminals won't bother with insurance, gun-safety classes
or storing their weapons properly. But the insurance industry, which is
built upon careful analysis, could force larger changes in gun safety
while keeping at least some guns out of the hands of the irresponsible.

Peter Kochenburger, a University of Connecticut
Law School professor and executive director of the Insurance Law
Center, noted that insurance is often used as a form of private
regulation. In this case, liability insurance would also create a pool
of money to compensate victims of gun violence.

Insurance companies "have the ability to collect the data and they
have the analytical approach to understand the risk,'' he said. "This is
their business. They make money or lose money over time by their
assessment of risk. They aggregate a lot of data and assess risk."

Shortly after the Sandy Hook shootings, Robert Cyran and Reynolds Holding wrote an op-ed at Reuters, Congress should push for mandatory gun insurance, and Forbes columnist John Wasik revived the
liability insurance for guns issue, arguing that "guns as weapons are
inherently dangerous to society and owners should bear the risk and true
social costs." Newtown's New Reality: Using Liability Insurance to Reduce Gun Deaths.

I posted an economic analysis from Megan McArdle at The Daily Beast who did a lengthy economic analysis of Wasik's proposal in Should People Be Forced to Buy Liability Insurance for their Guns?

It's time Arizona politicians and the media give this issue more serious discussion and consideration.