Concealed carry permits provide a situation where gun insurance is needed that is much simpler than guns in general. Taking the guns out into the community provides an additional reason to provide guaranteed financial responsibility and many of the problems that have to be overcome to design good insurance are mitigated. Some of the reasons that required insurance would be easier to implement are:
- Most permit holders are generally responsible people and many have purchased or would purchase liability insurance to give legal protection to the insurance owner. The insurance that will be recommended here is much broader than currently available liability insurance which is designed to protect victims, it will also provide better protection to the permit holder.
- Permit holders are already registered with government entities. Enforcement of this insurance requirement will not require a new registration system.
- The problem that “criminals won’t buy insurance” is not applicable as they won’t have permits.
- Insurers are likely to be more willing to provide the required insurance to this group.
- The Supreme Court of the United States has declared that there is Constitutional protection for having self defense guns in the home; but it has not done so for guns in other places.
There are also good reasons over and above the reasons for guns in general to require this insurance for guns being carried in the community:
- There are many additional ways that a gun in a public place could be involved in an incident injuring the general public.
- Members of the public who do not wish to be exposed to the dangers of guns cannot avoid their presence, especially if they are carried in a concealed manner.
- Guns carried onto private property may expose the property owners to liabilities and legal risks that they are not willing and not prepared to undertake.
- “Stand your ground” and other laws promoting self defense have reduced the ability of innocent persons injured in gun incidents to recover damages through the tort law system.
- Persons who routinely carry guns have a need to leave the guns in cars and other less secure places. When these guns are stolen they are likely to fall into the hands of prohibited persons.
- Insurance requirements can serve to enforce reporting of lost or stolen guns.
In order to understand some of the increased risk, think of a situation where a criminal with a gun approaches a group with the intention to rob them and all the members of the group are unarmed, then the most likely result will be that the group is robbed but not otherwise injured. But, if one of the members of the group uses a gun, there can be a shootout which may stop the robber or may end in the injury or death of anyone there. This is the reason for recommending that insurance for carry permits cover anyone hurt by third parties if the covered person uses a gun for a defensive or other purpose, even if it’s only to display the gun. Persons other than the permit holder are subjected to this danger without consideration of their wishes and deserve to be protected.
Stand your ground laws adopted in many states generally have a provision that a person who is attacked may use a gun without a duty to retreat. This greatly increases the number of situations where a gun would be used. The belief that a person or another person must be in danger of death or great bodily harm may be sufficient to make the use legal but may in fact be erroneous. The point of these laws is to increase the number of situations where guns can be used but with a concomitant increase in the number of accidents and intentional shootings of innocent persons.
If the gun is carried into a business and results in a death or injury with an attached legal liability, it’s very likely that the business will be named as an additional defendant. Wise business persons will have their own insurance but if they don’t they still should be protected.
When guns being carried are stolen from a car or other place where they were left, the insurer should remain responsible until it is reported to authorities and, perhaps, for a period afterward. This would give an incentive for gun carriers to take great care and reduce the number of guns entering illegal hands.
Now is the time to adopt legislation to require insurance to cover shootings associated with guns carried in public. It should have the following characteristics:
- It should pay injured persons without the need for establishing negligence. i.e. it should be no-fault insurance.
- It should cover economic losses, survivor’s needs, disability and pain and suffering and have a substantial death benefit.
- It should apply not only to the injuries caused by the legal carrier’s gun but to injuries caused by others including a criminal attacker during an incident involving the use of the covered persons gun.
- It should cover legal liabilities of third parties that arise from gun use incidents.
- Insurers should be required to report discountenance of the insurance to the permitting authorities 30 days before the insurance goes out of effect.
The insurance could easily be offered by insurance companies as an extension of homeowner’s insurance. Legislators who have concerns about whether insurers will make the insurance available should consider making the offer of such insurance a requirement for selling homeowner’s insurance.