The most important characteristic of the insurance needed for owning or carrying firearms is the basic structure of who is protected and paid by the insurance. Voluntary insurance is always designed to protect the insurance buyer or owner first and pays third party victims only when necessary to protect the policy holder. Required or mandatory insurance is intended to protect the public and persons other than the policy holder, and should promptly pay insured persons.
FIVE REASONS TO MANDATE GUN INSURANCE
To require additional individual responsibility such as locking up firearms
To provide victims with needed funds for medical and other costs
To make those causing the deaths and injuries pay, rather than the public through Medicaid or the victims through private health insurance
To supplement public regulatory oversight with private insurance company oversight
To encourage new technologies such as “safe guns” that would reduce accidents
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CAR INSURANCE AS AN ILLUSTRATION Continue reading
Ideally, we should adopt a system of insurance that protects and compensates all of the victims of gun violence as a single well thought-out package. The various terms would weight the balance between minimizing the interference with responsible peoples use of firearms and the need to keep them away from irresponsible people. There are many factors that should work together to give the best overall results. But, that isn’t the way that most systems of control and regulation are developed. They come about incrementally. Even before we adopt any requirements for ordinary gun owners and users to be covered by insurance, there are are changes that could set the state. Insurance is a means of maintaining a system and culture of responsibility. Keeping and use of firearms, unlike any other activity in our society, has accrued a large number of provisions, legal and of other kinds, to promote a culture of irresponsibility. If this is rolled back in stages, use of insurance will emerge as a natural step. It will be so because it will be a way of facilitating the responsible use of firearms in a context of demanded responsibility.
One of the main feeders into the pool of illegal guns that cause a large portion of the deaths and injuries is those guns that are obtained through straw purchases. A straw purchase is one that is done by a person with a clean record that can pass a background check to obtain a gun for a prohibited person. For the purposes of this writing straw purchases are distinguished from other channels for guns to enter dangerous hands including:
- Unchecked sales or gifts after the initial purchase
- Theft of guns
- Previously owned guns by persons who subsequently become prohibited persons
- Guns used by persons who are not prohibited from having guns but who are clearly dangerous in hindsight
Straw purchases are the primary input to the “Iron Pipeline” which is the name that New York gives to the practice of buying guns in low regulation states such as Virginia and illegally smuggling them into New York for sale to prohibited persons. The hate killing by a white supremacist in Kansas City in April, 2014 was with a straw purchased weapon.
This post is a good place to start if you’re new to this blog. Scan the questions and follow the ‘Related:’ link(s) if you have an interest in a particular area. You may also want to check the category’s listed in the right hand column.
Q: What is the purpose of mandating gun insurance?
Required insurance for guns or gun owners should be designed to provide benefits for victims of gun accidents or violence. Insurers will automatically take appropriate steps to encourage gun safety as part of their loss control and underwriting activities.
Q: What specifically would be the best insurance system for guns?
Each state should adopt a system of no-fault insurance with a system of delivering medical and cash benefits directly to victims. This insurance should be required to be in place for any firearm brought into or kept in the state in order for that firearm to be legal. It should provide all of the benefits available to victims of motor vehicle or workplace injuries.
The purpose of having insurance for victims of gun violence is to provide money for the many needs they have after they suffer from a shooting. The insurance should be structured to pay in the various situations that occur, for the various needs that are faced and in a timely manner. There are lots of kinds of insurance in use today and several ones will be examined in the chapters that follow. Starting with the most basic insurance designed only to protect the buyer of the insurance, we will add features until we see that it is possible to create a system that works to provide the needed protection. We’ll start with the simplest in the progression. Continue reading
This blogger has been researching statistics for presentation to the District of Columbia City Council in relation to their bill B20-170 to require insurance for guns. Some of the figures are striking. Firearm homicide for DC over the 10 year period 2001-2010 is over 5 times the national average but firearm suicide is one third of its national average. This means there are over 15 times as many suicides per homicide nationally than in DC. Part of this difference is no doubt demographic. Suicide rates vary dramatically by race, age and gender. But the non-firearm suicide rate per 100,000 persons in DC is 75% of the national average and the firearm suicide rate is only 32% of the national average. That difference is probably due to the scarcity of guns in DC even with the large illegal gun problem. If this difference had not existed then there would have been an additional 142 firearm suicides in DC during the 10 year period.
It’s fair to conclude that DC’s strict firearm laws are saving about 14 lives a year from suicide, but would an insurance requirement have a substantial part of this effect in places where firearms are common. Suicide researchers generally think that most suicides are impulsive and that substitution of means is uncommon. This is an area where removal of the restrictions on firearm data gathering and research is very much needed. Insurers requirements for safe storage can make a large difference. Many informed public health experts believe that even things as small as separate storage of ammunition and keeping guns unloaded will make a substantial difference. A person who keeps his gun at a range or shooting club rather than at home in order to get a lower insurance rate is far less likely to take an impulsive but irreversible and tragic action with it.
The figures in the table all concern deaths by firearm unless otherwise labeled. They are totals for the period 2001-2010 and are taken from the CDC’s WISQARS system. Rates are per 100,000 population and are not age-adjusted.
|Intent||DC||US||DC Rate||US Rate|
|All Suicide Firearm or Not||352||338,043||6.1||11.38|
|Non Firearm Suicide||243||162,822||4.21||5.59|
A new post by Julia Hartman on the PreventingNewtown blog titled “A Case for Gun Liability Insurance” gives a thoughtful and interesting discussion of the benefits of requiring insurance to protect victims of gun violence.
The post gives a moving presentation of the damage done daily by guns and calls for insurance as a way to deal with the problem. It makes the comparison to motor vehicles and points out the fact that gun deaths exceed motor vehicle deaths in 10 states currently. Suicides are handled on a par with homicides and accidents, an position which is often opposed by those supporting the status quo for gun policy.