In an inane post on Crooks and Liars, Susie Madrak writes, What if We Required Mandatory Gun Insurance?
He [her son] said it made more sense to sidestep the entire gun control controversy and instead pass state laws that require anyone who owns a gun to carry insurance. If they have risk factors (like teenagers in the house), their rates go up. If one of their kids sneaks a gun out of the house and gets caught, or uses it to commit a crime, the insurance gets canceled for some meaningful period of time — say, 10 years.
Sorry, Susie, your son’s idea is not new but has been kicked around by various anti-gun zealots for some years. Certainly there have been incidents — tragic ones — of a gun owner’s kid getting their hands on his/her gun. Blame, liability, can in part be assigned to the parent(s). But, these cases are rare — media exaggeration not withstanding — and more children drown from the backyard swimming pool then are killed by their parent’s gun.
So, you could require insurance for guns — probably pricing the cost of firearm ownership out of the reach for those who need the protections provided by same the most. Those who live in crime-infested areas. The law abiding would suffer and the illegal use of guns would not noticeably diminish. It is the illegal use of guns that causes the mayhem in our society that you (or your son) would like to vanquish.
The vast majority of illegal shootings are committed by crooks. But, here’s the thing: What psycho or criminal or gang member — the vast majority of whom obtain their firearms illegally to begin with and don’t bother with such formalities as licenses, permits, etc. — is going to call up Allstate or Geico and enroll in an insurance program?
Or, are you suggesting that if a gun is stolen from a law-abiding citizen and then used in a crime, that the original owner is civilly liable?
Well now, we can look at the cases filed regarding stolen cars that are then used in crimes resulting in personal injury or property damage. Many states, and some courts have ruled that if the car was left unattended, running or not, with the doors unlocked and the keys in the car, that the owner can be held partially liable for the actions of the thief. Most auto insurance companies fight these suits and won’t cover the owner.
If the owner lends the car to somebody who then crashes it, causing injury or damage, again, the owner is at least partially liable. Insurance policies DO cover the owner in these incidents.
But, if the car was not running — keys not in the car — doors of the car locked, then courts, states have found no liability on the part of the owner.
Using the above examples as a possible template for how insurance companies would offer insurance for firearms, we can speculate that if you leave a loaded gun laying on your porch step and someone swipes it, I guess your insurance company is not going to cover any actions resulting.
If your gun is in the house and your doors are locked (or maybe even unlocked) then I suspect that a gun insurance company will cover the damages. Incidentally, there are firearm insurance companies, including from the NRA.
Now, what about an insurance company covering your gun if you shoot a home intruder and his family decides to sue you? Fortunately, many states have adopted “Stand your ground” and “Castle Doctrine” laws that exempt you from civil (and criminal) liabilities.
Again though, thugs, gangsters, et al are not going to bother with taking out insurance so your proposal will only harm law-abiding owners.
This is all moot to the readers of Crooks and Liars. Their typical response was summarized by this comment from “Dahgrostabph-r-i”:
I would favor manditory insurance, I’m not a gun nut so it wouldn’t cost me very much - let’s go for it.
Better yet, maybe we just have a law where if you want to own a gun you need to put it in your mouth and test fire it first. c-mon, a lot of these tea baggers wouldn’t even realize it was a dumb idea until they pulled the trigger…and even then…
Yup. Just more violent, eliminationist talk by the left.
I’m not a lawyer (”but I play one on TV!”) or insurance expert so if any of you have more thoughts or ideas on this, feel free to comment. I’m sure there is already a body of case law regarding stolen guns and liability. Remember that my comments input only allows one or two links per, er, comment. More then that and you’ll have to wait till I get home from work this afternoon to “approve” it.