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Can insurance stop gun violence?

By Jay MacDonald · Bankrate.com
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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256 Comments
Dresda
February 06, 2013 at 9:43 pm

Quote Dee:-

"Only if the insurance companies offer a HUGE discount for having a gun to protect my property with."

There you go! You pay your home owner's insurance and you pay your firearm owner's insurance and if the insurance company figures out your better off owning a gun you may even save some money!

Dave
February 06, 2013 at 9:39 pm

Responsible, sane, gun owners will never cause the problems we have seen a rash of lately. Just LOOK at the perpetrators who have done these crimes....INSANE. Does anyone think a psychotic person cares about a law, insurance, or anything else? Let's deal with mental illness. We turned many out of the institutions to save money and many people are intimidated by them, therefore the mentally ill ravage our society, and we do not see it. So let's care for the psychotics in our society who can and will continue to perpetrate these crimes. In addition, I suggest a new "gun responsibility law". The law would state that the purchaser of a gun is solely responsible for that gun, and if a crime is committed with that weapon, the OWNER is charged with whatever the crime is in addition to whomever pulled the trigger of that gun. BUT this needs to be ENFORCED! Doing the right thing and taking the right course of action demands persistent hard work and thoughtfulness that goes beyond legislation or adding the insurance industry into the mindless "fixes" for the gun problem!! That would be another layer of abouse for responsible law-abiding Americans and their right to self protection.

Homesteader
February 06, 2013 at 9:29 pm

Let's see now, when it is determined that a certain criminal element is in possession of guns, the insurance agents will raid the place and fine the inhabitants for failure to carry insurance?
Nah, too much trouble. Much easier to target law abiding citizens for the sake of "taking action."
The anti gun folks continue to seek the easy way out by not addressing the real problems, the criminals and sickos of the world.

Bob
February 06, 2013 at 9:15 pm

I have a better idea, lets put the nuts back in state hospitals like we use to. I wish one of our politicians would have the guts to see the real problem, It is not the guns, its the mentally unstable.

Rick
February 06, 2013 at 9:10 pm

Idiotic idea, what do they put in the water? Stop drugging the young boys for acting like boys. Stay away from my 2nd Amendment Rights.

Clayton
February 06, 2013 at 8:52 pm

This is yet another attempt by the government to invade our homes/privacy, our right to bare arms, and most likely insurance companies lobbying for this law to earn more profits. Laws like this are a injustice to our nation. We the people, should fight against laws that will not solve the problem. It seems that more and more we are not able to trust our government. There is so much greed and corruption within our goverment, and I believe that our nation is headed for a collapse in the long term future. We need our elected officials to work for the people and not the insurance companies. History has shown that corporations have more lobbiest than we have government officials to promote their agenda. There should be an investigation with this law to see who is getting paid to create this bill to support the insurance companies and make this bill a law.

Roon
February 06, 2013 at 8:42 pm

Who in there right mind would think that this would help gun violence? I say Quit trampling on my second amenment rights! I am sure that the criminals are not going to go out and buy the insurance! Just another way for the insuarnce companies to get money.

wally christopherson
February 06, 2013 at 8:42 pm

How silly! a homeowners policy would automatically provide liability coverage unless it was an "intentional act". And I will guarantee you that NO insurance company will write a policy that will provide insurance coverage automatically-for an individual that injures someone-including defense costs- if the act is "intentional". The next thing that COULD happen is that insurance companies will come up with a NEW exclusion that will state that there is NO coverage provided for anything to do with "firearms"- Although they could likely add an "endorsement" that will provide "some coverage"-probably limited-for an additional premium if the act is not specified as "intentional". They may have to defend the action if it is NOT definitely "intentional, but they would add a "reservation of rights" provision that would state they would defend to protect THEMSELVES, but would not pay if the act was determined to be "intentional"
a long time-now retired insurance broker.

James
February 06, 2013 at 8:35 pm

BWahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah! (Pick self up off floor) Yeah... that's definitely infringement... OMG! A drunk driver! Quick take away motorized... Well anything...

Lynn
February 06, 2013 at 8:32 pm

Most of us have enough trouble paying our regular bills and trying to feed ourselves and of course paying health, life, auto, and home insurance.. I like guns and use them responsibly. It is a privilage to own a gun,I don't think we should have to pay insurance for a privilage. The politicians are supposed to be working for us not against us. They have money thye don't have to worry like most of us.
The problem is not law abiding citizens, it's the criminals, insurance is not going to stop crime, that is the dumbest thing I've ever heard. It is not going to stop anyone who wants to commit crime from doing so!!! If you don't like or want guns that is your choice, but don't tell me what I can or cannot do with my guns as long as I abide by the law like most of us do, we shouldn't be punished for what the criminals do. This is not the way to go about keeping people safe!!!!!!!!!!!