Gun Owner Liability Insurance May Be a Possibility
No amount of money can replace the loss of a life, and while that’s a commonly held belief regardless of your stance on gun control, it’s very easy to pinpoint the financial cost of gun violence and the expenses associated with death.
Researchers estimate that in 2010 alone, gun violence and the associated expenses cost Americans – both those involved and those in entirely different states – $174 billion. This includes medical expenses, the enormous cost of a funeral, loss of productivity, and law enforcement expenses; while you may not worry about that cost as someone who distances themselves from gun violence, you’re paying for it with your tax dollars.
While tax payers clearly don’t foot the entire bill for these expenses, tax payers’ dollars do go to programs like Medicaid that cover uninsured victims of gun violence. In response to this, some states – including Illinois and California – are considering a statute requiring gun owners to purchase and carry liability insurance for their firearms, despite calls of unfairness from gun-advocate groups like the NRA.
These claims are well-supported, and there are additional claims that suggest that these additional measures would not only be unfair, but ineffective as well. Many homeowner’s insurance policies’ liability clauses already serve this purpose, protecting gun owners from events such as accidental discharge, even if the incident occurs outside of the homeowner’s property.
Not all gun owners have home insurance, and those that do may not have adequate liability limits, so gun advocacy groups claim that while an umbrella policy or additional gun liability insurance may be a better option, it may intensify the very issue it aims to solve.
While these proposed policies don’t have gun exclusions, they don’t cover intentional harmful use of a weapon, so anything outside of a pure accident wouldn’t be accepted. If you accidentally shoot someone you’re hunting with, the victim is covered, but if you rob a store, the same might not be true, leaving the victim to deal with their injuries out-of-pocket.
Opponents of the policy still assert that the policy would be unfair to gun owners, and some experts on law and American rights agree. Some say that the policy would infringe on Americans’ Second Amendment right to bear arms while others say that this may unfairly discourage citizens to exercise that right by imposing an additional cost. They also note that liability may create a more relaxed mindset about firearm operation and safety. If a gun user is covered, they’ll be less likely to exercise the appropriate precautions when handling a firearm.
Opponents say the exact opposite, and point out that while car accidents kill more people than guns, all drivers are still required to carry car insurance to protect themselves and those they hit. The desire to keep liabilities low, however, could encourage behaviors to become more widespread.
It all comes down to how people will ultimately handle this policy, how it will be enforced, and whether or not people choose to follow these new policies if they become law. For now, the policies are only being discussed in a handful of states, so few predictions can be made.
Where do you stand on firearms regulation? How do you think these policies would impact gun owners and crime rates? Share your opinions in the comments, along with any concerns this policy brings up.