An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Since gun owners are nothing but big whiny little children, perhaps a little financial incentive will help them grow up a bit:

A bill introduced in the New York State Assembly by Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, a Democrat, would require the state’s residents to acquire liability insurance as a condition for gun ownership.

“Any person in this state who shall own a firearm shall, prior to such ownership, obtain and continuously maintain a policy of liability insurance in an amount not less than one million dollars specifically covering any damages resulting from any negligent or willful acts involving the use of such firearm while it is owned by such person,” the measure, dubbed S2353, reads.

Any person who has not purchased insurance in compliance with the law within 30 days of its passing would be in violation of the law.

Such an occurrence “shall result in the immediate revocation of such owner’s registration, license and any other privilege to own such firearm.”

Free marketz, bitches!
Of course, the namby-pamby little babies are all “But we don’t wannnnnnnnnnnt to!”

“The legislation proposed in the Assembly today is a shot at all legal, responsible gun owners and sportsmen,” said Barclay. “Requiring this outrageous insurance policy is yet another way to try and limit sportsmen and deter people from owning any firearms. This legislation runs counter to the Second Amendment right of all our residents.”

“The fact of the matter is that the majority of gun owners are not involved in any crime. This bill again fails to address the real issue behind gun violence, which is the prevalence of illegal guns in this state,” he continued. “There is a long and storied tradition of sportsmen and gun ownership in our state that is being ignored in favor of political expediency. I strongly oppose this legislation and will continue to work to protect the rights of all responsible, legal gun owners.”

This is possibly the best argument against forcing liability insurance on gun owners.

And it’s an EPIC FAIL. For one thing, the vast majority of homeowners don’t have their houses collapse into a puddle but they carry homeowners’ insurance. The vast majority of drivers don’t have accidents each year, but they carry automobile insurance.

And those are things that have utility. A gun’s primary focus is to kill. It’s a hazard and like any hazard, ought to have some protections available to those it wrongly harms.

Look, I SCUBA dive. This means, I pay higher premiums on my life insurance policy for engaging in a risky activity, despite the fact that mortality rates for divers in general, and divers specifically engaged in the sport, are far lower than for bowlers (who do not pay a surcharge, believe it or not.)

And that doesn’t include the small but not insignificant number of deaths caused by driving after a few beers at the bowling alley.

It’s part of the price I pay to indulge myself.

Owning a gun is an option. We aren’t in a state of war, and we do not have to kill our food. The last studies done…and they are grossly out of date because Republicans banned the CDC from performing anything more recent — even if Obama has now freed them to do so — show that a gun in the home is 43 times more likely to be used against a family member or friend in anger than to repel an intruder. A gun is ten times more likely to be used against a woman in an act of domestic violence than by a woman, either in an act of domestic violence or against an intruder, inclusive. And if I recall correctly, 22% of all domestic violence gun deaths are children.

Too, because of Republican efforts, gun manufacturers are exempt from civil liability statutes. This is outrageous. If a tobacco company puts out a product that, used correctly, kills you, then they are liable for putting that product out there, particularly if they do not take the proper steps to ensure you understand the risks involved from the get-go.

Which is what that tobacco settlement a few decades ago was all about: the blatant cynicism of the cigarette industry to push a product that kills.

Does anyone see a difference between that and guns? Because I sure don’t.

If you own a gun, you’ll be expected to take responsibility for it. Period. No more leaving the safe half-unlocked, no more letting it lie around with bullets in the clip or magazine. You bought it. You own it. Learn how to use it and keep it safe. I imagine insurance companies will fall all over themselves to find ways to offer discounts, like those five hour driver safety courses that get you ten percent off your car insurance.

This will not be expensive, but it will protect responsible gun owners who take great care of their weapons at the expense of the knuckleheads who do not. Because, frankly, those are the people we need to target.

It will take time and arm-twisting for the Federal law exempting gun manufacturers from liability to be overturned. In the meantime, imagine how much more thought George Zimmerman would have put in if he had a premium spike on his mind as he stalked and then murdered Trayvon Martin.

This is a great idea and I endorse the effort, and urge my legislators to pass it quickly. The time has come.

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  • I own three guns, and I would like for you to point out any instance where I have been whiney of childish about my guns. I have no significant opinions on gun control, pro or con, and have expressed none, so I would like you to illustrate how and where your statement about gun owners applies to me. Thank you.

  • So the proposal here is to:

    * Create a windfall of profit for the insurance industry and litigators. (This insurance idea is not unique to New York state; it is being kicked around by the D party all over the country.)

    * Impose a steep, regressive de facto tax on firearms. The article predicts premiums of about $150 / month so this law will effectively prevent poor people from lawfully owning guns.

    * Add a fixed cost to gun ownership and therefore boost the share of the market for high-end weaponry.

    * Add extra penalties for unlawful possession, which due to uneven enforcement can be expected to come down mainly on poor people and people of color.

    * Put law enforcement squarely in the business of confiscating guns from owners who, today, own legally.

    The arguments put forward for this are:

    1) Gun owners are whiny and childish.

    2) You recognize no value in guns and, besides, cigarettes.

    3) You want us to imagine that concerns about insurance premiums might have influenced George Zimmerman’s choices.

    I’m with the Assembly on this one. The proposal would require more careful study and so belongs in committee indefinitely.

    • Whoa. No value? I said no such thing. I fully appreciate the need to own guns in limited, and I stress limited, situations.

      But soft, perhaps you or the other whiners here would be so kind as to illuminate me and put forth a rational reason, not one based on terrorism, for a homeowner having an assault weapon.

      I have yet to hear one, and I count many many gun owners among my circle of friends.

      • Owning it merely for the sake of collection, without any intention of ever using it. It’s an interesting piece of machinery, one in which form fits function to an admirable degree, and which might well round out a collection of similar pieces of machinery without ever even being loaded, much less fired. Muskets, for instance, are virtually never owned for their functionality, and “assault weapons” (for which there is actually no clear definition) might well be owned for very similar reasons.

        I am not “one of the whiners” here, unless you can point out which of my contributions have consisted of whining and describe the manner in which it meets your criteris of “whining.”

        • whining – present participle of whine (Verb)

          1. Give or make a long, high-pitched complaining cry or sound.
          2. Complain in a feeble or petulant way.
          3. Have the temerity to disagree with a New Yorker certain that their reality is the only one that matters.

  • Jayhawk — Would you agree the term applies to NRA leadership?

    I’ve actually thought some kind of liability insurance would be a good idea. Since guns can have fatal consequences I have no idea how much money the coverage should afford the gun owner….

    Would understanding some of that liability make some less responsible gun owners more careful to report thefts or losses? To make sure there’s a background check if a gun is sold on to someone else?

    ALSO, good to see The Agonist is not GONE, as rumored.

  • It’s a bullshit law and another way for insurance companies to make big bucks and prisons to fill up with people too poor to afford the insurance.

    • Personally, I don’t support the idea – IMHO the politicians are just generating PR by solving problems that don’t exist, because it’s easier than dealing with the real problems.

      That said, your logic sucks: “fill up prisons with people too poor to afford the insurance” WTF?

      You don’t have to go to prison. If you can’t afford the insurance, don’t buy guns and sell any you already have.

      BTW: Considering the cost of a lot of today’s weapons, if you can afford the guns, ammo, accessories & upkeep, you can afford the insurance.

  • Nice post, Actor212, and totally agree with the rationale for this bill.
    With regard to the NRA leadership, yeah big time whiners. Which is weird for such tough guys with guns!

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  • As long as the owner of the gun is part of a “well-regulated militia”, they shouldn’t have to maintain liability insurance. Otherwise, fuck ’em! They have no individual right to own a gun regardless of what the right-wing fascists on the Supreme Court say.

  • Mandatory insurance for guns is one of the best ideas I’ve heard in a long time. Not only would it dramatically reduce gratuitous gun ownership, but it would provide another channel for prosecuting the use of guns, even if notionally “justifiable”. And it would provide a pool of money to help victims of gun crime.

    Gun owners harm civil society. It is high time to begin attaching a price tag to that.

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