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.
The part which makes a new contribution is the analysis of the benefits that insurers would provide if they were a part of gun policy as they are for motor vehicle policy. This starts with the contributions of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute. These are supported by insurers organizations that provide the knowledge and data that is needed for safety to evolve. They are resources to be proud of in contrast to the sad state of support for research on firearm casualties.
There is a list of eight benefits for gun insurance that bears study. One of these:
3. Agencies could create and maintain an easily accessible database with gun serial number, insurance pin, and insurer that could be quickly checked before a sale yet protect the purchaser’s private information.
The idea of a database which only contains insurer and gun identification data is a central concept for the “Top Down” method of requiring insurance that is advocated by this blog. This method works by only allowing an insurer to relinquish responsibility when a new insurer takes it up.
Another interesting item on the list is:
4. Many instances of gun violence, including suicide, seems to be connected to individuals with mental health issues. Background checks can’t resolve this problem since a potential purchaser’s mental health history is protected. Insurance companies could protect this history and still be sure these individuals do not receive insurance coverage allowing them to purchase a gun.
Study of the relationship of suicide and firearms access is sorely needed, it is among the areas where publicly supported research is suppressed. It is very important to handle all of the forms of gun violence. The pretense promoted by the NRA and others that the problem is only a few criminals who need to be locked up would prevent any real progress. There are other benefits listed in the post and they are all important.
This post is very welcome because it goes deeper than the pro and con of mandating insurance as a way to crack down on gun owners. The recent appearance of such posts is a sign that the discussion of gun violence and of gun insurance is maturing into a new stage.