Gun owners, above most everything besides the Second Amendment argument, posit that the problems with gun violence are not due to “responsible” gun owners…it is always them, the other guy – criminals, the mentally unstable, well…you know, THEM. The foundation of their argument is that they, the beleaguered, hounded, falsely blamed, honest, hardworking gun owners, are completely upright and responsible…they are just not the problem. EVER.
Seven states – California, New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Colorado – have, in the past month, introduced bills to have gun owners put their money where their mouth is: liability insurance for their firearms, codifying that responsibility if their firearms are used incorrectly – used by children who find them, by criminals who easily steal them; by people to whom they sell them without requiring a background check.
In California, Assembly Bill AB231 was introduced by assemblymen from San Francisco and Los Angeles. Assemblyman Phillip Ting equated the idea to requiring vehicle owners to buy auto insurance. LA Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez said it would encourage gun owners to take firearms safety classes and keep their guns locked up to get lower insurance rates.
Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, questioned whether it is constitutional to require someone to buy insurance to exercise a constitutional right.
Robert Frank, professor of economics at Cornell University, counters:
“Nothing in the constitution grants people the right to expose others to serious risk without compensation.”
In New York, the focus is again on codifying responsibility rather than continuing to have the “Scout’s Honor” approach that gun owners now enjoy. In other words, make the gun owner responsible for any damage caused by their guns. While it may discourage some people from buying guns, more broadly it would compel people to practice the responsibility that the gun community says they already practice, though the 233,000 guns stolen per year and the number of kids killed by mommy and daddy’s guns that are lying around contradict that assertion. Scout’s Honor.
In Massachusetts, HD 2678, a bill was introduced by Democrat Rep. David Linsky on January 18th. An analysis by Best’s Insurance News says it would provide those injured, or the survivors of those killed through negligence, legal recourse and:
“…perhaps, allow insurers selling policies to charge rates using a risk-based system as a means of improving firearm safety.”
The bill “might result in insurers pricing gun liability insurance according to risk, including factors such as how many guns are owned in the home, how those weapons are stored, and whether they are kept in a locked area.”
Again the goal is making the gun owner fully responsible for his firearms, making sure they are always properly locked away.
In Colorado, home state of the Columbine High School shooting and the Aurora Theater massacre, new legislation requires that owners of semi-automatic rifles be subject to strict liability for civil damages caused by their weapons, and state statutes that shield manufacturers, importers and dealers from such liability would be lifted. It further says that handguns, bolt-action rifles and shotguns would be exempt from the measure. The issue of liability is only one of many measures introduced into the Colorado legislature Tuesday.
The actions of these states set in motion several conflicts; while most gun enthusiasts are loath to see Washington D.C. dictate any measures that affects their guns, a large majority of them are also strong proponents of enforcing the Tenth Amendment, supporting a state’s right to control its own laws that are not defined federal powers.
All the states that have, to date, filed legislation regarding liability insurance on firearms are blue states. They represent 30% of the population of the nation.