Guns

Doesn't Seem Like There Was Any Damage When You Shot Me, But Let's Exchange Insurance Information

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Bang!

Good lord! A letter to the editor published in a major newspaper that actually makes an interesting point in an intelligent manner. Who knew such a thing was possible? The pitch: In light of the ongoing re-regulation debate happening in the District of Columbia right now, why not consider requiring/encouraging gun owners to get liability insurance?:

Responsible gun owners could procure insurance from reputable companies; those whom society would least want to own guns would have difficulty obtaining it at reasonable cost, if at all.

It seems possible that the letter writer finds the proposal appealing because he thinks it will result in fewer people owning guns. Whatever his desired outcome, though, his thought process is solid. Where possible, why not let insurance companies figure out just how much trouble some people are likely to cause, and which guns they're likely to cause it with? The idea's not novel. The product already exists—you can pick up a policy through the NRA, for instance.

This wouldn't take a dent out of illegal gun ownership, of course. But neither do most existing gun control measures or bans on certain makes and models. Assuming the measure drives only a minimal number of people into the black market and/or that it is installed in place of other absolute bans on certain types of guns, it seems like a possible net gain for gun freedom to me.

There's a lively debate going on over at DCist, if you're interested in what the common people have to say about all this.

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  1. Mandatory insurance is pro-freedom? Huh??

  2. I don’t think it’s right to require people to have car insurance, either. I’m certainly not going to support this.

  3. This is stupid. There’s no way to spin this that isn’t a restriction on your 2nd Amendment rights. Now, if it were proposed as a replacement of an even worse system (which is what I think KMW may be doing here), then it could be considered an improvement.

  4. From the letter:

    “The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of an individual right to own firearms, but it did not say that jurisdictions cannot regulate guns in a way similar to how cars are regulated.”

    Um, car ownership isn’t a right protected by the Second Amendment to the Constitution…

    And here’s the underlying assumption for why we should have mandatory gun insurance:

    “A study by P.J. Cook and Jens Ludwig, professors at Duke University and the University of Chicago, shows the direct and indirect costs of handgun violence exceed $100 billion a year. ”

    But many studies say precisely the opposite – that lawful gun ownership is beneficial to society because it reduces crime, both directly and indirectly. Perhaps we should subsidize gun ownership? (Not really – just making a rhetoricla point.)

    Note also that the above study includes violence from illegally owned handguns. In fact, illegally owned handguns likely contribute to any such costs quite disproportionately, but would be totally unaffected by mandatory insurance. Even if the study above is correct and handguns do actually impose a cost on society, it seems unlikely that lawful handgun owners insuring their handguns would do much to help the victims of much of this violence.

  5. Should publications – online magazines and blogs for instance – be made to purchase defamation insurance in order to exercise First Amendment rights?

  6. I’m sure the US Gov’t will be into this now that they own AIG.

  7. Atabrat,

    Nice demonstration of a complete lack of knowledge.

    http://moneycentral.msn.com/ownership?Symbol=AIG

  8. I’m going to have to think about this. My gut reaction is fuck no. But gut reactions aren’t the same as well thought out opinions.

    Reasonoids pro and con, convince me.

  9. In probably every state, it’s illegal to insure a person for their intentional acts. At best this idea would cover negligent shootings. Not sure how that figures in but it is a thing.

  10. I’m sure the US Gov’t will be into this now that they own AIG.

    BWAHAHAHAAAAA! OMG thanks for the laugh.

  11. what the common people have to say about all this.

    I haven’t read the whole DCist thread, but FWIW, there are both pro and con opinions, but no one seems to be considering it a possible replacement for other regulations.

    If that were the case (you can have your assault rifles if you get insurance), it wouldn’t suck. As is, it probably would.

  12. Then what? Baseball bat insurance? Nope, I’m not buying this.

  13. Well at least we’d get some decent data concerning law abiding gun owners- actuaries, is there anything they can’t put a price on. I wonder if they would try to collect data on crimes deterred by guns. It would be amusing to see the anti-gun folks argue against gun ownership if people with guns had their rates lowered (assuming the risk of an accident was outweighed by the benefit of crime deterrence).

  14. I can hardly wait until all of my firearms have firearm tags. “I’m sorry, sir, but I had to pull you over because your firearm tag is outdated. May I see your licence and registration?”

    Sorry. It’s just too easy.

    I think it’s great that DC is even talking about this. Seriously. But with more conversation and thought, they’ll realize how vapid this idea is.

    Insurance companies aren’t much better than bookies.

  15. I’m going to have to think about this. My gut reaction is fuck no. But gut reactions aren’t the same as well thought out opinions.

    J sub D — It’s a no-brainer. Stick with “fuck no.”

    1) Requiring people to purchase something they don’t want to purchase is anti-freedom.

    2) Passing a law requiring purchase of insurance as a condition of gun ownership would unconstitutionally “infringe” upon our Second Amendment right: ” A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free
    State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be
    infringed.”

    3) Why, after 200 years of not requiring this, would it now be necessary? What has changed?

    4) The people causing the problem — criminals — are unlikely to obey this law.

  16. Another wisecrack: Hide your guns! It’s a drive-by insuring!

  17. From a hunter’s standpoint, I can see a market for this. Say you are an unnamed Vice President out on a quail hunt and you accidentally shoot a lawyer. Now, if this lawyer hadn’t been a friend of yours, or if you hadn’t been VPoUS he might very well sued the pants off you for, at least negligence. This is where gun owner’s insurance might actually come in handy.

    Now, actually requiring it ala motor insurance, just as bullshit. Required insurance and licensing rules don’t prevent those who can’t obtain either from using the equipment, whether it be guns or cars.

  18. If that were the case (you can have your assault rifles if you get insurance), it wouldn’t suck. As is, it probably would.

    Actually, I think either way it would suck, because it starts setting a precedent that guns can be treated like driving a car–a “privilege”–as opposed to a constitutional right.

  19. Mandatory insurance is pro-freedom? Huh??

    My thoughts exactly. How the fuck can someone with a functioning brain possibly be supporting MORE insurance during a week like this?

  20. Sounds like the Clinton Health Care Plan. But then again, that aspect of her plan wasn’t as bad as most libertarians would admit. Of course, forcing people to buy anything is far from ideal, but it’s certainly better than government running the industry, or forcing government to pay for the inevitable fallout of others’ irresponsibility. We will never live in libertarian utopia. If we force people to buy insurance for their guns, health, and risky houses perched in desert brush areas, maybe that would save the rest of us some money.

  21. So stupid. Why not make it mandatory for women named Katherine Mangu-Ward to get insurance for when they opens their mouths or walk down the street?

    After all, who knows what kind of damage her stupidity might cause?

    This is the type of garbage I expect to see at leftist sites like DCist; let’s keep it out of Reason.

  22. Nice demonstration of a complete lack of knowledge.

    Nice demonstration of complete lack of sense of humor.

  23. My thoughts exactly. How the fuck can someone with a functioning brain possibly be supporting MORE insurance during a week like this?

    You’re presuming the person in question has a functioning brain.

  24. Nice demonstration of complete lack of sense of humor.

    Sorry, this thread was the first time I had seen this username, and I thought you were being serious. Newcomers always throw me off.

  25. Absent a statute making this mandatory, this coverage would probably be at an unreasonable rate, if it was offered at all. The only reason auto insurance rates are as low as they are is because everyone has to buy it.

  26. Sorry, this thread was the first time I had seen this username, and I thought you were being serious. Newcomers always throw me off.

    No sweat. At least you didn’t ALL CAPS me. Did someone come up with the html sarcasm tag yet?

  27. Atabrat, that was a thread winner btw.

    John-David! There goes another one!

    [points upward and watches John-David crane his neck]

    😉

  28. I’m with Bull Lee, mandatory insurance for anything is crap. Sole exception would be as a part of a contract such as the bank requiring you to have fire insurance as a condition of loaning money to buy a house.

    The stupid part about mandatory car insurance is that car insurance used to be about protecting your personal investment in the car from people causing you harm.

    Liability insurance came about as a way of protecting your assets from exposure if you caused harm while driving.

    And then, if everyone is insured (mandatory, by law) WHY DO WE NEED UNINSURED MOTORIST coverage?

  29. Now, actually requiring it ala motor insurance, just as bullshit.

    OTOH, every state that requires auto insurance has a state-provided policy for drivers who can’t get regular insurance. A similar provision for gun owners would provide a lot of anti-gun reaction amusement.

    Absent a statute making this mandatory, this coverage would probably be at an unreasonable rate, if it was offered at all.

    AFAIK most homeowner policies cover getting sued for accidents, including with firearms. I asked an agent one time why there wasn’t a separate provision (and charge) for firearm accidents. It was his opinion that the risk wasn’t great enough to justify making it a separate item and writing different policies for gun-owners. They will add a rider and charge to insure against the loss of a valuable firearms collection.

    The vast majority of “firearm violence” consists of criminal acts, and no insurance can cover such.

    Texas, and several other states, has recently granted civil immunity to someone who was legally justified in using deadly force.

    When the Texas Concealed Handgun Association was formed in 1996 we started looking for a policy that would provide legal representation for possible criminal charges in the wake of a self-defense incident. It is simply impossible under Texas insurance law. In 2004 however, the folks at CHL Protection Plan came up with a legal services contract that does the job.

  30. In probably every state, it’s illegal to insure a person for their intentional acts.

    Illegal? Why bother, it hardly takes a law to convince insurance companies not to do that (too much moral hazard).

  31. The only reason auto insurance rates are as low as they are is because everyone has to buy it.

    In what economic theory is it claimed that making a product mandatory lower’s the producer’s price? That’s the exact opposite of the expected result.

  32. @ Bob Smith:

    “Illegal? Why bother, it hardly takes a law to convince insurance companies not to do that (too much moral hazard).

    You may have a point there, but for whatever reason the occasion has come up enough for this to become pretty solid common law.

  33. After all, I see moral hazard in full effect every time my brother rents a car … and yet, the principle hasn’t convinced car rental agencies not to offer complete coverage.

  34. Gun accidents are really rare (and often self-inflicted, which doesn’t create liability). You could probably get coverage comparable to to the automotive minimum for a few dollars a year. Big gun stores like Cabella’s could give it away as a promotion.

    Although, at those prices, it’s cheaper to just fold it into your other liabilities…which most homeowner’s policies already do.

  35. …actually makes an interesting point in an intelligent manner

    Like .0001% of all blog comments? Present company excepted, of course.

  36. With mandatory insurance being thrown around, I wonder how long it’ll be before some states consider giving gun permits to illegal immigrants “because it will allow them to come out of the shadows and get insured”.

    So Billy Bob the hunter no longer has a legal gun, but Pedro in East L.A. does. Granted, where he lives Pedro probably has more use for a personal firearm, but still…

  37. You may have a point there, but for whatever reason the occasion has come up enough for this to become pretty solid common law.

    “For whatever reason” would be the state insurance codes. Insurers typically have very little choice in what they will or won’t cover.

    The Texas Insurance Code Table of Contents runs twelve pages.

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