Politicians nationwide have discovered a sneaky new way to discourage gun ownership: mandatory insurance.
Laws that would force gun owners to purchase liability insurance have been proposed in three states and the city of Los Angeles, Insurance Business America reported.
Under the proposals, gun owners who did not buy insurance would face fines up to $10,000. The laws also would require individuals to prove they have insurance prior to buying a firearm.
Examples of this gun legislation include:
- A proposal in New York state that would require gun owners to maintain $250,000 in liability coverage.
- A bill by Hawaii state Senator Josh Green (Democrat) that would require gun owners purchase insurance and then get their gun registrations renewed every five years – instead of registering only once in a lifetime.
- A proposal before Los Angeles County officials that would require not only insurance but also would tax firearm purchases.
- A bill by New Hampshire State Representative Katherine Rogers (Democrat) that would require all sellers, purchasers and owners of guns to have liability insurance – or face a $10,000 fine.
- A proposal by Vermont state Rep. Thomas Stevens (Democrat) that would require homeowners to tell their home insurance company if they own guns, the NRA blog America’s First Freedom
Some of these proposals are similar to a failed piece of congressional legislation, the Firearm Risk Protection Act, which was introduced last year by Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-New York), Insurance Business America reported. That legislation went nowhere in the Republican-controlled Congress, but it is now popping up again in state legislatures often controlled by Democrats
The purpose of such laws is clearly to discourage gun ownership and gun use.
“An insurance requirement would allow the free market to encourage cautious behavior and help save lives,” Rep. Maloney said of her legislation last year. “Adequate liability coverage would also ensure that the victims of gun violence are fairly compensated when crimes or accidents occur.”
Others, though, disagree.
Such requirements would penalize law-abiding gun owners while having no effect on criminals, George Mocsary, an assistant professor at Southern University’s School of Law, told Insurance Business America. Speaking last year about Maloney’s proposal, Mocsary said he didn’t believe the legislation would deter gun violence. He also didn’t believe it would provide adequate compensation.
“There’s no reason to believe a criminal who doesn’t fear criminal sanctions for homicide would fear a penalty for not insuring,” Mocsary said.
He also noted that 97 percent of firearms-caused deaths are homicides or suicides, neither of which are covered by liability policies, Insurance Business America reported.
“The idea is that it would serve as a private regulator of guns and compensate victims of gun violence,” Mocsary said. “There’s good reason to believe, however, that insurance would fall short of both of these goals.”
The NRA blog pointed out that “most insurance carriers put language into their policies that specifically exempts intentional criminal acts from being covered.”
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