MANDATE: Liability Insurance for Gun Owners!

Sad. Traumatizing. Disheartening. Disbelief. Pride.

An AR-15. The type of weapon used by Nikolas Cruz in the Parkland shooting. Specifically designed to kill people.

Just a few of the emotions I have experienced over the last 11 days from over 2500 miles away from the Parkland, Florida shooting.

Sad that it has happened again; traumatizing for the students faculty and residents of Parkland; disheartening the response from elected officials in Congress (but not the sheriff of Broward County, who despite some of his earlier comments about arresting Facebook posters, has been a real outspoken hero); disbelief that during his listening session with the students the president would propose reopening mental hospitals and arming teachers.

So while we are lost in the conundrum that follows virtually every mass shooting tragedy let me suggest that we focus our attention in a different direction–insurance.

Pride in the students, faculty, and families who have taken up the mantle, met with the president, politicians, attended rallies and raised money. Our future is in your capable hands.

Politicians, like Sen. Marco Rubio, continue to point blame in every which direction except at the availability of guns, instead focusing their attention on mental health issues.

Now we are seeing the slightest movement toward enacting at least some gun legislation in Congress. The president and some legislators have voiced their support for banning bumpstocks and are again looking into the issue of universal background checks. Others, as they have done following past tragedies, take up the old rant that we should “simply enforce the laws that are on the books.” Some suggest there shouldn’t be any laws at all because laws won’t stop gun violence. (If you criminalize gun ownership, only criminals will possess guns.) I suppose these same proponents would have us remove all the stop signs  because people are going to run stop signs. Clearly, we don’t need more stop signs because stop signs don’t prevent people from running them. Asinine. So while we are lost in the conundrum that follows virtually every mass shooting tragedy let me suggest that we focus our attention in a different direction–insurance.

Our Republican friends are quick to decry large government– government interference in our daily lives (other than abortion and birth control, they really like telling women what they should do with their bodies) and in forming government-private partnerships for the solution of public problems that should be the concern of government.

So let’s propose this, a clean and fairly simple solution that even the most strident Second Amendment proponents couldn’t object to: require all gun owners to have and maintain liability insurance for all their guns. Make it illegal for anyone, gun dealers or private individuals to sell a weapon to anyone who cannot show proof of financial responsibility. Make it unlawful to deliver a weapon to anyone who cannot provide such proof. Make it unlawful for any person to possess a weapon without a valid certificate of insurance covering that weapon.

Issue a gun permit to everyone who purchases a weapon. Make the permit valid for a year and subject to renewal upon proof that the insurance policy is in full force and effect and revoke the permits if the insurance policy lapses or expires. Impose civil and criminal penalties on sellers who sell weapons to people without insurance policies.

Give existing gun owners a grace period of, say, 6 months or year to obtain insurance coverage on their weapons. Make it unlawful to own a weapon that is not covered by insurance.

Leave it to the insurance companies to draw up parameters for issuing policies, premiums, and coverages. Maybe even offer a discount for multiple gun ownership. Perhaps discounts for responsible gun owners who haven’t had an incident. Leave it to the insurance companies to decide which weapons they will insure and which ones they won’t. If our elected officials won’t govern, let’s form a public-private partnership with an industry that has shown its ability to make rules and regulations.

Insurance companies already know how to do this. You can’t buy a car and drive it off the lot without proof of insurance. They have different rates for different makes and models of vehicle; rates that very depending on the use to which the vehicle will be put, whether for private use or business. Rates are based in part on issues of liability, which makes are more likely to get involved in accidents, safety records of the vehicles, how they perform in crash tests, how expensive they are to repair following an accident, rates based on maintenance histories, durability and the likelihood of its occupants being injured in an accident. And cars aren’t the only example. Buy a home? You gotta get homeowners insurance.

It. Makes. Perfect. Sense.

Were not talking about taking away anybody’s right to buy a gun with this legislation, nor are we telling you what kind of gun you can buy, or can’t. We’re simply saying that whatever gun you buy, you must have insurance for it. Now, if the insurance company wants to make you take a proficiency test or pass a background check or refuses to issue insurance for some makes or models of weapon, that’s not the government’s will, it is simply a function of the free marketplace, independent of the Constitution.

Will the Constitution require that insurance companies insure every type of gun on the market? Doubtful. The Supreme Court has already ruled that our “right” to have a gun is not unlimited.

The Supreme Court has said that the possession of a gun for protection of the home was a legitimate interest and protected under the 2nd Amendment. The Supreme Court stopped short of saying that anyone had a right to possess any kind of weapon he or she wanted. The Court has also held that both the State and Federal Governments have a right to impose reasonable restrictions on the purchase of weapons.

Should, as some of my left-leaning colleagues have suggested, repeal the 2nd Amendment? No. For many reasons I will not address here. But if gun aficionados want to ensure their continued right to gun ownership, they should seriously buy into insurance for that right.

In keeping with the Supreme Court’s rulings, the Congress could (dare I say shouldI?) pass legislation requiring gun owners to purchase liability insurance on their weapons.

It. Makes. Perfect. Sense. Don’t you agree? If so, send this to your elected officials. Make it happen.

In case you were wondering . . .