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Can insurance stop gun violence?

By Jay MacDonald ·
Monday, February 4, 2013
Posted: 2 pm ET

As long as we're engaged in a heated national debate on ways to curb gun violence, let's ask the obvious question: What role might insurance play in making our neighborhoods safer?

Legislators in Massachusetts invited insurance into the discussion last month when they proposed a state law that would require gun owners to purchase liability insurance in the event one of their firearms should cause injury or death.

The proposal, believed to be the first of its kind, comes in the wake of the December slayings of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Such mandatory insurance coverage could include incentive discounts for gun owners who take firearms safety courses and store their weapons properly.

In addition, the bill would enable insurance companies to do what law enforcement agents cannot under current Massachusetts law: enter a person's home to verify that guns are secured. That's a step that could be taken before a liability policy is issued.

The proposed gun insurance law does not address how much liability insurance would be required or whether coverage under a homeowners insurance policy would be sufficient. But it does state that those found to be in possession of an uninsured gun would face a fine of between $500 and $5,000 or up to a year in jail.

Rep. David Linsky, the bill's sponsor, says there are ample precedents that insurance used for the public good can save countless lives.

"Insurance companies were able to discourage smoking through the marketplace and make cars safer through the marketplace," he observed.

Gun rights activists have been quick to denounce the bill as what they call another misguided attempt to saddle law-abiding gun owners with unnecessary regulation. They maintain that such a law would penalize those who buy and own guns legally while having little impact on those who acquire weapons illegally.

"Now we're going to have insurance companies telling us how we are supposed to be trained and where we are going to store our guns?" asked Jim Wallace, executive director of the Gun Owners Action League in Massachusetts.

But in the wake of the Sandy Hook slayings, the idea of inviting insurance into the discussion was welcomed by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, who co-chairs Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and new Massachusetts senior Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

"It's time that we think about alternative ways that we can effectively deal with gun violence," Warren said. "We need better research. We need better understanding. We need to try different approaches to protect our children."

What are your thoughts? Would a gun liability insurance law stem gun violence in America?

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February 06, 2013 at 8:27 pm

One of the stupidest ideas yet. Who is going to go out and make sure criminals get the insurance? Once they all have it, then I'll think about getting mine.

Chris Teter
February 06, 2013 at 8:24 pm

Typical, keep stupid people afraid and offer legislation that only law abiding citizens would follow. I don't think criminals will get policies.. Dems, always follow the path of least persistance when solving problems. We already have the solution, put armed good guys in schools. An armed society is a polite society. A quote by Robert heinlein. I say a disarmed society makes us sheep.
The dems want complete control over our whole existance, that's what this universal healthscare is about!
Also the second ammendment is there so we are armed against tryany from our own government , the founding fathers knew it could happen again. Well here we are.
Ask yourself this, 'Has any government program EVER worked as proposed? has one EVER cost what they said? has one EVER saved what was claimed?
The only consolation I have today is that the stupid people are paying more too! How's that for free!
Why doesn't the author write about all of the thousands of people who use their guns legally in self defense every day?

February 06, 2013 at 8:20 pm

So by this logic it's ok to own our guns as long as the right people are making money off of us.....ridiculous

February 06, 2013 at 8:19 pm

Another method toward 'infringement' of individual rights. Period.

Definition of "infringement". "encroach. To enter gradually or stealthily upon another's property or rights."

February 06, 2013 at 8:17 pm

Insurance will have zero impact on gun violence. Most, If not all, gun violence is centered around those with criminal intent. None of those people would have insurance as criminals don't obey laws. This is only a punichment of law abiding gun owners and a money maker for the insurance companies.

John Becker
February 06, 2013 at 8:17 pm

What are they going to think of next. Maybe they should ask why a mother would place a gun in the hands of a troubled child and teach him how to use it. Maybe we should make neglegent parents buy insurance to pay for the crimes their kids commit. We need someone with common sense to place the blame where it belongs. Anyone who commits these kind of crimes is a very troubled person. The gun is just a tool they use to do it. It takes a person to pull the trigger it will not fire unless some pervert uses it. Get real and start enforcing the laws we have on the books NOW.

bb gun
February 06, 2013 at 8:08 pm

no it will not help at all and ya who is getting the kick in for this one no no no no one will come tel me or show me how to store my gun bad move

Freedom Fighter
February 06, 2013 at 8:07 pm

This really upsets me! OUR FOUNDING FATHERS ARE ROLLING AROUND IN THERE GRAVES! This will never get posted because we have no freedom of speech!!

February 06, 2013 at 7:58 pm

how stupid....criminals get the upperhand again

February 06, 2013 at 7:57 pm