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Gun insurance is not the answer

POSTED February 19, 2013 11:52 p.m.

Mandatory gun liability insurance for gun owners sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

But so does mandatory liability insurance for dog owners.

On paper, at least.

In reality, all insurance will do is drive up the cost of owning a gun for responsible citizens and do little if anything to stop the criminal element or crazed individuals from killing people.

Assemblyman Philip Ting, D-San Francisco, is pursuing a mandatory gun insurance requirement for all California gun owners. Ting believes all costs that occur when an accident happens with a gun should be borne by its owner.

Gee, the courts have already determined that’s the case if a plaintiff can prove irresponsibility on the part of gun owners. So why codify it?

The reason is simple.

If you make guns pricier, the theory is fewer people can afford guns.

Brilliant. That means only well-to-do people can buy firearms while those of lesser means – assuming they are also law-abiding – would be hard pressed to exercise their constitutional rights conferred via the Second Amendment thanks to the added cost of mandatory insurance.

So how does this stop gun violence?

It doesn’t. Most crimes and murders are committed with stolen guns. Criminals who steal cars don’t usually buy mandatory auto insurance. They certainly aren’t going to buy mandatory gun insurance. Besides, insurance covers accidents and not deliberate acts.

And just like with mandatory auto insurance, only responsible, law-abiding gun owners are going to buy gun insurance if it is required. That means whatever cost Ting is worried that taxpayers get saddled with from accidents caused by gun owners who fail to get mandatory insurance and don’t have any assets will still be on the taxpayers’ dime.

And given that we are dealing with a constitutional right, will Ting require media – social and traditional – to carry mandatory libel insurance or pay a massive tax on newsprint or the number of hits on an Internet media page to cover potential damages they may cause?

Ting isn’t just on a slippery slope. He’s creating a whole new world where you have to pay a de facto tax – liability insurance – before you can exercise constitutional right.

Ting should be commended – to a degree – for wanting to do something about gun violence. This, however, will do nothing more than create another profit center for insurance companies, plus make it difficult for the law-abiding of lesser means that want guns for protection to be able to buy one.

As we move forward, let’s not lose sight of the fact that very few gun deaths happen in schools or crowded theaters. They happen in crime-riddled neighborhoods where drugs are prolific, the economic conditions deplorable, and the police are overwhelmed.

We need to address the reasons why violence and crime of any kind happens. We obviously won’t be able to completely eliminate all violence and crime but we can make a dent if we concentrate most of our efforts on the biggest causes and not a peripheral – although deeply disturbing – cause.

Let’s be honest. Most of us really aren’t too excited about gun violence as a burning issue until it strikes in places where we or our kids might go – a suburban cinema or a small-town school. Yet the carnage from such high-profile mass murders are minuscule when compared to the day-to-day body count in our inner cities.

There are no quick and easy solutions. It will require everyone who cares about this country, public safety, and individual rights to work together and not lose interest.

What we don’t need are pile-on laws that do nothing to address the real issue while they drive the cost up for law-abiding citizens.

This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Journal or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com.

 

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