What Should Insurance to Counter CCR Look Like?

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Persons wanting a level of responsibility for public carrying of firearms should take the proposed federal Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act (S-446) seriously.  It is the NRA’s biggest want out of this Congress, was introduced by John Cornyn–a very powerful Senator and has support by at least 37 Senate co-sponsors. There is similar support in the House. It could become law very quickly.  Its provisions would have the practical effect of making uncontrolled carry of weapons nationwide policy.  They would also be an impediment to stopping illegal street sales and possession by prohibited persons.  Adoption of an insurance requirement to protect victims is one of the most effective way to reduce the dangers that this would bring.

Mandatory gun insurance to gain adoption and to withstand the inevitable court challenges should be designed to provide real protection for victims and promote safe practices.  It should be structured differently than either insurance as a backdoor gun prohibition or “shooter protection insurance” as currently sold by the NRA and others.  The overall purpose of this blog is to examine how this is best done.

The sections below show the terms that should be included in an effective insurance mandate for this purpose. They can serve as an outline in drafting legislation when applied in light of other firearms laws in the relevant state.

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Concealed Carry Reciprocity and an Insurance Requirement

Proposed bills have been introduced in the House (HR-38) and the Senate (S-446) which would allow holders of permits to carry firearms in all states. They have gathered a substantial number of sponsors. The current language of the bills is very broad and would not only prevent state restrictions on out of state permit holders but allow residents of states without a permit requirement to carry firearms nationwide. There are provisions to allow persons arrested under state laws to recover damages and legal expenses.

If this law passes states will have great difficulty enforcing any restrictions on gun carrying because of the difficulty in establishing that a person is not a resident of another state and because of the difficulty of checking the validity of out-of-state permits. There will be great pressure on states to relax requirements for their own citizens to match those of other states with no restrictions.

In this situation, an insurance mandate could be very important in providing at least some responsibility requirement.

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HR-2546 Firearm Risk Protection with Suggested Personal Injury Clause

Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY-12) has introduced a bill, HR-2546, to require insurance for firearm transfers again in the congress.  The bill has been co-sponsored by representatives: Blumenauer (OR-3), Clark (MA-5), Grijalva (AZ-3), Lynch (MA-8), McGovern (MA-2), Rangel (NY-13), and Tsongas (MA-3).  It is a requirement for liability insurance for sales of firearms.  As introduced it does not specify the amount of insurance required or the parties to be protected by the insurance.

This blog has pointed out many times the limitations of the liability insurance model for protecting victims of gun violence; but many people easily see the parallels between the car insurance requirement and the need for gun insurance.  Liability insurance, as implemented in various states for the protection of people injured by cars, is often modified by the provisions of a mandate to be in a form which, while called liability insurance, is really based on some other insurance system.  These systems are typically called no-fault insurance or personal injury protection as well as being nominally called liability insurance.  They pay benefits directly to victims.

One of the good models for gun insurance is found in the requirement for a personal injury protection endorsement to car insurance in Rep. Maloney’s own state, New York.  It is codified in New York Regulation 68.   This provides for persons not covered by their own insurance (such as most pedestrians) a requirement for no-fault benefits which are paid directly to first parties (injured persons). 

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Amar Kaleka for Congress with Gun Insurance in Platform

Amar Kaleka is a candidate for Congress from Wisconsin running for the seat now occupied by Paul Ryan.  He is the son of one of the persons killed by a Neo Nazi white extremist at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek Wisconsin on August 5, 2012.  He has gun safety as a key issue in his platform.  Of particular interest to this blog is the third point on the “American Peace Plan for Gun Responsibility.”

3. Mandatory accidental discharge insurance on all gun sales and ammo.  When there is an accidental discharge and someone is harmed or victimized by an irresponsible gun owner, the burden of fiscal responsibility is left in limbo.  Private insurance carriers have the ability to determine the gun buyer’s biography, health, and criminal record.  Insurance companies and the market would decide reasonable premiums based on the type of gun purchased, carrying in public, or what type of training or the expertise of the gun owner.  The Federal government does not have this ability.

 

The announcement was made on August 30, 2014 in Santa Monica, CA with Richard Martinez, father of 2014 Santa Barbara shooting victim Christopher Michaels-Martinez; and Patricia Maisch, survivor of the 2011 Tucson, Arizona shooting.  It was picked up by Insurance News Net.

Limiting the mandate to accidental discharge makes the coverage much more narrow than the insurance advocated by this blog, but it is in line with many plans introduced in several states.  The argument that any insurance will cause insurers to take an interest in gun owners level of responsibility is probably a reasonable start.  The actual number of cases that insurers would have to pay would be small enough that it would end up being a very affordable coverage and is probably already covered by most homeowners insurance.

The fact that mandatory (but not so easily voluntary) insurance can cover intentional and criminal acts is not recognized; but in light of the widespread disinformation spread by insurers, it can be handled more effectively in full legislative hearing process than in an election campaign.

The point that insurers can do evaluations that the Federal government cannot is a good one.  The “Top Down” system advocated by this blog is based on that idea with a method of guaranteeing insurance for all guns without general governmental gun registration.

Gun Insurance Blog salutes Amar Kaleka for his courage and foresight in placing gun insurance in his platform in a clear and open manner.

How Should DC React to the New Gun Carry Decision?

The District of Columbia is scrambling to react to a Federal District Court decision that threatens to invalidate the ban on carrying guns for self-defense in DC.  The current law in accordance with the direct decision by the Supreme Court in Heller v. DC forbids carrying guns outside the home except by certain classes of armed professionals.  There has been a 90 day suspension of the application of this decision for an appeal which could be used to enact legislation which allows registration for that purpose.  If DC is required to allow individuals to carry guns in public there are various options in regulating such carrying that are in accordance with the recommendations of this blog.

They should certainly increase the level of responsibility that gun owners have if their guns result in injury.  They can pass provisions in the Municipal Code which are parallel to the specific requirements that give motorists a duty not to follow so closely as to strike other vehicles in the rear and a duty not to strike pedestrians in crosswalks.   There should be provisions in the DC Code to establish a duty, with a presumption of negligence if not followed, to avoid the following:

  • Allowing a gun to make an unintentional discharge.
  • Allowing a gunshot to strike an unintentional target or a person not intended to be shot.
  • Allowing a gun to get into the hands of an underage person or a person prohibited from possessing firearms.

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Mandatory Insurance for Armed Professions is Normal

We see armed people working around us on a daily basis.  Some of these private professionals are highly visible such as guards for banks and armored car services and some are less obvious to the eye such as private investigators or detectives.  In almost all states there are requirements for them to have licenses and in most states they must have insurance or bonds that function as insurance.  But there is tremendous variation in the requirements and in the definitions and terminology of the various roles.

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New Bill SB2646 for Gun Insurance in Illinois Covers Intentional

Illinois Majority Caucus Chairman Ira I. Silverstein has introduced a new bill (SB2656) in the Illinois General Assembly to require that gun owners have liability insurance.  This bill covers willful as well as accidental shootings by the owner or others.  It covers lost or stolen guns until they are reported.

This would be very helpful legislation if adopted as introduced and could form the basis of a more detailed and developed requirement to cover more victims.  Because it designates continued responsibility for unreported stolen guns it recognized the important of gun theft for supply to illegal gun possession.

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Voluntary Insurance and Strict Liability as Good First Steps

Much of this blog is about how insurance should be designed and how it would work if an ideal insurance mandate was in place.  Opponents of such a mandate point out real and imagined problems that would prevent such insurance from working.  When the possibilities are examined the problems turn out only to apply to particular models of insurance and can be avoided by designing the insurance for the particular nature of guns and gun violence.

But there are also transitional problems that could block adoption of an insurance mandate that would work well once it was in place.  The most important of these problems is the fact that gun insurance that would protect victims does not exist currently.  The insurance that is designed to protect gun owners from accidental or self-defense incidents is very narrow and is not adapted to the need to protect victims even to the extent that existing liability laws could allow the redress in the courts.

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Federal Mandate for Top-Down Insurance

A federal requirement that all manufacturers and importers have insurance that protects victims of their products with a top-down provision requiring it to continue until replaced is the core of a successful system for guns. Ideally this requirement would specify the terms and benefits laid out in the next level for state legislation that seriously provides for victims, but this will describe the minimum requirements that should be specified on a national level.

A bill (H.R.1369) proposing mandated gun insurance was introduced in the United States Congress in 2013, but it did not specify details of the insurance required in the language of its introduced.

The legislation should require that, before manufacturing or importing a firearm, insurance must be accepted by an insurance company specifically authorized to issue such insurance by some state. In order to make certain that the required financial stability is available, all such insurers should be required to join a pool backed by all such insurers guaranteeing each insurers ability to pay valid claims. Once an insurer accepts responsibility for a certain gun, that responsibility is only relinquished when another qualified insurer takes it on. Continue reading

Questions and Answers on Mandating Gun Insurance.

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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.

Related: Insurance-Good for Victims, Safety and Gun Owners

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.

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