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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 07, 2013 at 6:11 pm

Yes - criminals will all buy insurance! Criminals (inlcuding the criminally insane) are good people who will always do what is right.

It is all of us renegage, law abiding gun owners who will refuse to purchase insurance. We deserve to be punished because we are bad people who always do what is wrong.

February 07, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Are you kidding me! Let's see tragedy in the form of a natural disaster strikes a community and after the insurance company's are forced to issue payments to those covered, what do they do... Pull out of the region and stop offering coverage, why? Well our EPS can't take a hit or our stockholders will be upset!

I have a really simple 2 part solution... #1 If you see something, say something... If you are suspicious, say something... If you know something, say something... #2 Everyone start taking some personal responsibility.

My God, we've become a nation of finger pointers, it's always somebody else's fault! Teach the value of life and respect for each other.

Joanne Slonski
February 07, 2013 at 8:41 am

I think this would work really well if you are an insurance company. Don't understand why the general public is always being punished for a few "bad" people. Oh well the american public elected the slow tops.

February 07, 2013 at 6:55 am

Every solution that comes from the government has a Dollar sign ($) attached to it. Money is not going to fix this problem. This Idea is just some ones ill idea that does not have a clue what to do, but wants to try to do something, so throwing more money is the easyest way to get a knee jerk from everyone. Well you got the knee jerk. Some lawyer is setting there just waiting for the chance to sue someone for not having his guns in a safe and secured storage area. Another Lawyers payday. That is all it is, money for the suits.

Ricky davis
February 07, 2013 at 5:33 am

Well we got Obamacare wheather we wanted it or not. I wonder what they will call the new gun insurance law. And how much they will fine us if we dont carry it.

Dave T
February 06, 2013 at 11:59 pm

Yeah just what we need more ins. they are the real problems in this country Ins. keep getting richer and only the people who have anything too loose pay into it ins.companies are what have brought this country down they take and never give only lawyers and politicians get rich and now let everyone know you have a gun why is it if you have money or are important than you can defend yourself ins. are legal mafia

February 06, 2013 at 11:21 pm

I agree if you own a firearm you need to be a responsible owner but to force people to purchase insurance and fine people that don't purchase insurance is not going to stop gun violence. That was the question wasn't it. I mean really we have laws and those laws don't stop gun violence. When a criminal knows that the courts will not impose lengthy prison sentences for committing crimes with firearms then it's worth the risk. Seriously auto insurance doesn't mean we have less accidents does it?

Marvin Johnson
February 06, 2013 at 11:19 pm

I it a ploy from insurance companies to find another way to make money. Criminals to not follow the law and liberal anti-gun people need to understand this. Any criminal using a gun in a crime should be tried and the executed within 30 days by firing squad. Crime would go down sharply!

February 06, 2013 at 11:13 pm

Wow, what a bad idea.
From the article: "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."
This provision can only be used against law-abiding citizens, because it would be a violation of felon's 5th amendment right against self-incrimination to force him to insure a gun or registar a gun. Why do some people only want to punish law-abiding citizens?

February 06, 2013 at 11:10 pm

How about we start insuring parents for each kid they own. Not a health insurance, oh no, a parenting insurance to ensure that they are following proper parenting etiquette such as providing proper nutrition, education, discipline, and having their kids progress in accordance with a government mandated child development flowchart.

what about insurance to put on for demonstrating proper behavior. Whenever caught acting in a manor unfitting a gentlemen, give him/her a ticket. Things that could fall under this is, well, everything under the first amendment like verbalizing opinions that go against the views of politicians.

State residential insurance. This will be where you pay your state to insure you. Here, you're basically buying public service. You called 911? here's a bill. Fire department? that water costs money you know.