While it would be best to adopt gun insurance in the United States by national legislation that puts into place a full blown no-fault plan with the “Top-Down” provisions to guarantee that it covers all of the millions of guns in the country, it is not necessary to wait until that is politically feasible to make progress in protecting victims. There are several paths where an important part of this protection can be implemented both for it’s own value and to demonstrate the practicality of more complete plans.
The first and the one that already in the public eye is to adopt compulsory liability insurance for gun owners who are registered in particular states. This is the plan that is being offered in state legislatures. It would apply to a fairly small subset of the injuries and killings because it has no way to be in effect for illegal guns. But, as the proportion of gun injuries from legally possessed guns is going up due to a downward trend of crime in general and a greatly increased spread of legal guns, it would have a substantial value. It may very will be accomplished in some places in the next few years. This is the type of adoption that is seen by most writers who suggest insurance in the mass media.
The most promising step by step path at this point starts with requiring insurance for concealed carry permit holders. Because they are already registered in all but a very few states, there is not the privacy concern that applies in other cases. It is also likely to be more acceptable because it only burdens gun owners with a clear and increased interaction with the community. Because many state legislatures have adopted laws legalizing concealed carrying of weapons in recent years and because the problems widespread guns in public places have been made more clear by the killing of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of George Zimmerman, this may be the most political feasible path. It is also an approach which will work well on a state by state basis.
This blog is planning to advocate for concealed carry insurance in this and the coming state legislative seasons. To repeat the recommended provisions in the recommended legislation from the blog above, they will include:
- 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.
- Insurers offering homeowners insurance will be required to offer concealed carry insurance riders with exclusions and qualifications regulated by state insurance commissioners.
The way most analyzed in this blog is adoption of insurance with a sequence of structures that make it apply a larger and larger set incidents and victims. This sequence which is detailed in other posts in this blog goes as follows:
- Step 0 – Adopt laws clarifying the legal liability of shooters and gun owners. This is needed for itself and for the effectiveness of liability insurance.
- Step 1 – Liability insurance for guns. Because this depends on fault by gun owners and the tort law system, it gives limited protection to victims.
- Step 2 – Liability insurance with direct payment to victims. This allows easy coverage of intentional acts and guns that are used by others than the owner.
- Step 3 – No-fault insurance to protect victims. This eliminates the need to use the tort law system and to establish negligence. It can cover all of the injuries from legal guns but has no way to get the large number of incidents that are produced by illegal guns.
- Step 4 – Insurance that covers guns with a “Top-Down” guarantee that is in place for lost, stolen or diverted guns.
Insurance at the Step 3 level exists in various states for motor vehicles and worker’s compensation insurance is designed to work at this level. The need for the the last step is much less for these activities because regulation and registration of car owners and employers is nearly always available.