Gun Control

Jacob Sullum Debates Mandatory Liability Insurance for Gun Owners


Yesterday on on HuffPost Live, I discussed proposals for requiring gun owners to buy liability insurance with Don Taylor, an associate professor of public policy at Duke University, and Michael Barry, vice president of media relations at the Insurance Information Institute. As with the HuffPost Live debate about universal background checks a few weeks ago, none of the guests was all that enthusiastic about this gun control policy, which is basically a tax in disguise. Even the host, Josh Zepps, who did his best to play devil's advocate, ended up saying it did not seem like a good idea to him. You can watch the exchange here or below.

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  1. A tax in disguise? what a novel approach.

    1. Tax? More of a penalty, really. Penaltax, if you will.

  2. And we know the feds can require it, so we’re done here. Constitutional.

  3. market failure. let’s try single payer on this.

  4. Not sure if liability insurance is really needed here.

    I’m not an expert on insurance, but your homeowner’s insurance coveres a rather large swath of things, some of which may not even happen in your home. Many of us may already have ‘liability’ insurance if we accidentally hurt someone, be that harm come from a gun, a screwdriver, or a badly wired electrical outlet.

    1. Although I’m listening to the video, and it seems they’re talking about insurance that would cover an intentional act of harming someone with a firearm? What now? How does insurance cover you if you intentionally shoot someone?

      1. No it’s if someone steals your gun, and then shoots someone with it, then you are magically liable. My idiot uncle thinks this should be a criminal offense, BTW.

  5. It took Sullum several minutes in to point out the problem with placing an insurance requirement on exercising a constitutional right.

    1. Just got to that. We should require liability insurance on people’s right to vote.

      If your candidate fucks the country sideways, I get a check.

      1. they’d have to pay everyone. both candidates tend to do that.

    2. But there is an insurance requirement simply for existing these days.

      Unfortunately, it’s probably legal.

  6. 4:47 gets to the core of the issue. Homeowner’s insurance could (and might) already be covering this.

  7. Sullum nails it when he points out that it could be analogous to requiring a blog owner to buy insurance before he could exercise his First Amendment right.

    1. (To pay any possible defamation suits.)

  8. Host @8:36 asks why NOT have gun owners pay for this externality because “we’re part of a community that is part of gun violence”.

    No we’re not. The part of the community that’s going to create the externalities of gun violence aren’t going to buy the insurance.

    So it’s precisely the people who aren’t or at minimum are least likely to be responsible for those externalities, that now must pay for them.

    This sounds like a perfect way to miss the point with exacting precision.

  9. There’s a line from 28 Days Later which is appropriate here:

    “No, no. No, see, this is a really shit idea. You know why? Because it’s really obviously a shit idea.”

  10. Sullum points out the problem with the logic of having responsible gun owners buy insurance when the likely gun violence purveyors would not purchase even purchase that. The real reason for this legislation is to put up a barrier for people on the margins from obtaining a gun in the first place by putting a de facto 100% tax on a gun (depending on the cost of the policy and the price of the gun).

    1. Sullum is making the good argument (although not forcefully enough) that none of it matters, because it’s a constitutionally protected right. We don’t tax or force people buy insurance for things that are explicitly protected by the constitution.

      Bill Of Rights, $100 per right! Sign up here and get yours while they last!

      1. Maybe it’s just because I come from the same place on this, but Sullum had pretty much the most solid arguments.

  11. I think it’s a brilliant idea.
    I wish I had come up with it myself.

  12. The argument I’ve heard from Scott Lehigh (Boston Globe) is that insurance companies wouldn’t have given the recent mass murders the insruance they needed to legally own a gun. Lehigh doesn’t see it as a stealth tax, he sees it as stealth gun control.

    1. I don’t see why either is a problem. Not when real gun control is apparently forbidden by that piece of paper.

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