In order to have a system of insurance the covers the dangers of having guns in our society, it is necessary to have a way to be sure that insurance exists that covers each victimization. The simplest system is to mandate the insurance and have the government check that it is in place. This requires that the government be aware of the identity of the gun owners in order to enforce the mandate. This means registration of guns or gun owners. The political objection to this is very great. If it is necessary to override this objection or wait for it to dissipate, then implementation of insurance for gun victims will be greatly delayed.
The Objection To Registration
Many people who are concerned about gun safety are not aware of the depth of the fear of government held by some of the gun rights defenders. There are a considerable number who have deep and broad paranoia which has been focused on this issue with severe personal mental health issues but an even larger number are simply trained to express this distrust by gun organizations, the media and those who want even more guns in circulation. Even more are aware that some form of tracking guns is essential for application of many measures to control or limit their circulation. They may fight registration of firearms as a way to prevent control of firearms.
A good bit of this concern has been embedded in current federal laws. There is law in place forbidding a federal registry of ordinary guns (not including NFA items such as machine guns). The Brady Act and the Firearm Owners Protection Act both have such provisions.
The concern about registration of guns leading to confiscation also forms a part of much of the writing that’s done about the guns in the current material circulating on the Internet. For example in an article dated February 27, 2013 titled “Debunking the ‘no one wants to take your guns’ myth” which is featured on the website The Truth About Guns and is about New York’s new law which outlaws or limits certain types of weapons the author first states:
And given New York’s history, its not unlikely that such registration is simply a precursor to a complete and total door-to-door confiscation down the road. Since they now have a convenient list of gun owners.
And then later in the article:
And the removal of a grandfather clause from the proposed legislation can only mean that full-scale confiscation is in the offing. They are, indeed, coming to take away our guns. Even the “hunting rifles.” And those who are still trying to pass off that old lie are either too ignorant of the proposed legislation or too entrenched in the party rhetoric to understand the lie they’re spouting.
In another article on that same site titled “Chicago Firearms Confiscation Begins” the first sentence is “There’s a good reason that law-abiding gun owners don’t want their names on a national gun registry – namely registration leads to confiscation ….” This is taken for granted by a salient group of writers and advocates for guns. They generally don’t make any arguments as to why registration would necessarily be a first step to taking guns away from current gun owners but assume that their readers are already convinced that that will happen. They are glad, however, to point out any situation that they can interpret as a confiscation following on some form of registration. They also assume that the government will take any steps that are possible to forward that process. For example, one of the primary objections to requiring insurance for guns is that the government could, at least theoretically, force the insurance companies to turnover their lists of customers. I have not found any objection to the National Rifle Association compiling a huge list of gun owners going well beyond their membership.
An Insurance Requirement without Additional Registration
Permits to carry guns are a form of registration in themselves, but they exist in many states. As has been pointed out on this blog, carrying a firearm in public creates an array of additional dangers to the public. Additional registration of gun owners would not be necessary, but it would be highly desirable to have insurers aware of the serial numbers of the guns covered and have guns reported if the owner loses control of the gun. That way insurance could cover cases where the gun was lost or stolen and then resulted in a shooting.
For a general insurance system, this blog is recommending that “Top Down” or chained insurer responsibility be employed to guarantee coverage. Insurance would be required of manufacturers with a provision that the insurer only relinquishes responsibility for a given gun when another insurer take it up. Making that absolute no matter how the gun changes hands will make sure than once a gun is insured it will stay insured, without requiring that anyone other than insurers track the gun. Let the gun owners buy their insurance through the NRA if they don’t trust other insurers.