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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 11:10 pm

Or.. is this just a pathetic ploy for insurance companies to steal more premiums from law abiding people?? Under every slippery rock lives an insurance company waiting to take your money. This idea is pure Greed and Ignorance.

February 06, 2013 at 11:08 pm

Really? Seriously?? UN REAL... In what Reality are you people living in?? Another tax for the Law abiding gun owner who follows the rules and does things for all the right reasons... REALLY? I am laughing between my tears of disgust for such an idiotic proposal. To the person that proposed this incredibly ignorant plan. It will be your job to go find Joe Crack Head after he shoots a father on his way home from work for the $18.00 in his pocket so you can collect the tax!! Oh Wait.. He shoots the father.. throws the gun in the trash.. So Go to the citizen who had the weapon stolen months before WHEN HIS DOOR WAS KICKED IN WHILE AT WORK and collect your Tax!!! Please tell me we are not destined to a world of people so out of touch and totally unaware of reality that would propose something this IGNORANT. Really? That this would rid of us The EVIL PERSON That uses a fire arm to commit a crime? Pure blind ignorance.

S.E. Tarvin
February 06, 2013 at 11:03 pm

Brilliant angle on this issue, love it. If you want the risk of owning a gun, then you need to buy insurance to take care of those who may be harmed with its use or misuse. Can't believe the insurance industry just thought of this. They've done it for cars all along, and guns probably are much less safe. It's a risky tool to have in your home. The only problem, or at least one of them, is that the bad guys, who don't care about hurting others, would opt not to get such coverage. Also, renters probably rarely have coverage - it would apply to home owners only.

February 06, 2013 at 10:49 pm

driving a car is a privilege, that's why we need insurance for it.. owning a gun is a right, THE ONLY PEOPLE THAT WILL GET "GUN INSURANCE" IS THE LAW ABIDING CITIZENS... NOT THE CRIMINALS..

February 06, 2013 at 10:48 pm

Insurance may be the best way to rid the country of non-sportsman weapons. It would also help force people to properly secure weapons when not in use. Seatbelts helped reduce serious injuries in accidents. Locked, unloaded guns would help reduce accidents in homes, save lives and maybe stop the bitter screaming found on many blogs.

February 06, 2013 at 10:46 pm

Harry Marsh...are you a Lawyer trained in Constitutional law? I'll bet not. Don't speak of things about which you know nothing. Also, when was the last time that your insurance agent had the "right" to enter your home to scrutinize how you store or care for your car? Do they make sure that you maintain it properly? Again, I'll bet not. And do the criminals who choose not to pay for insurance concern themselves with the fact that there's a law? Same answer. But I do.
If this is an actual consideration then maybe we should be looking at the requirement of insurance for the manufacturer's of the weapons, and the manufacturers of the ammunition, and the powder, and primers and the guys who mine the lead that eventually gets made in to the bullets. And don't forget about the farmers that raise the cattle from which the leather for the holsters come. And then we should make the politicians buy insurance because the law says that as a law abiding citizen, I have the right and am afforded the privilege of owning, possessing and in most states, carrying a firearm IF I choose to do so. Finally, since the cost of insurance is based on the premise of shared liability, how much of the cost of these policies are you willing bear? Think about it.

February 06, 2013 at 10:32 pm

Stop drinking the koolaid and wakeup This is about insurance agents exploting sandy hook and making money.

February 06, 2013 at 10:27 pm

Hey harry What if we snowboard can we be charged for that?? How about owning a gas grill those are dangerous too,What about beer lets charge people more money if they drink, more people die from that then guns. and knifes those are dangerous if you own a knife and it is not locked up in a knife safe we can charge them we will make millons..oh oy this is going to br great.

Jaime A. Serrano
February 06, 2013 at 10:09 pm

This is another way of ditatorship,Puting the citisen in the hands of the big companys to make them more rich on bejalf of the workers,cos they will control nobody but the peple who wants to protect themself,from the criminals.

Harry Marsh
February 06, 2013 at 10:00 pm

Requiring auto liability insurance is universal and widely acceptable. It brings accountability to owning and driving a car. It violates no constitutional rights. Why not apply it to guns and owners?