Wednesday, February 20, 2013

An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Since gun owners are nothing but big whiny children, perhaps a little financial incentive will help them grow up a bit:

A bill introduced in the New York State Assembly by Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, a Democrat, would require the state’s residents to acquire liability insurance as a condition for gun ownership.

“Any person in this state who shall own a firearm shall, prior to such ownership, obtain and continuously maintain a policy of liability insurance in an amount not less than one million dollars specifically covering any damages resulting from any negligent or willful acts involving the use of such firearm while it is owned by such person,” the measure, dubbed S2353, reads.

Any person who has not purchased insurance in compliance with the law within 30 days of its passing would be in violation of the law.

Such an occurrence “shall result in the immediate revocation of such owner’s registration, license and any other privilege to own such firearm.”

Free marketz, bitches!
Of course, the namby-pamby little babies are all "But we don't wannnnnnnnnnnt to!"

“The legislation proposed in the Assembly today is a shot at all legal, responsible gun owners and sportsmen,” said Barclay. “Requiring this outrageous insurance policy is yet another way to try and limit sportsmen and deter people from owning any firearms. This legislation runs counter to the Second Amendment right of all our residents.”

“The fact of the matter is that the majority of gun owners are not involved in any crime. This bill again fails to address the real issue behind gun violence, which is the prevalence of illegal guns in this state,” he continued. “There is a long and storied tradition of sportsmen and gun ownership in our state that is being ignored in favor of political expediency. I strongly oppose this legislation and will continue to work to protect the rights of all responsible, legal gun owners.”

This is possibly the best argument against forcing liability insurance on gun owners.

And it's an EPIC FAIL. For one thing, the vast majority of homeowners don't have their houses collapse into a puddle but they carry homeowners' insurance. The vast majority of drivers don't have accidents each year, but they carry automobile insurance.

And those are things that have utility. A gun's primary focus is to kill. It's a hazard and like any hazard, ought to have some protections available to those it wrongly harms.

Look, I SCUBA dive. This means, I pay higher premiums on my life insurance policy for engaging in a risky activity, despite the fact that mortality rates for divers in general, and divers specifically engaged in the sport, are far lower than for bowlers (who do not pay a surcharge, believe it or not.)

And that doesn't include the small but not insignificant number of deaths caused by driving after a few beers at the bowling alley.

It's part of the price I pay to indulge myself.

Owning a gun is an option. We aren't in a state of war, and we do not have to kill our food. The last studies done...and they are grossly out of date because Republicans banned the CDC from performing anything more recent -- even if Obama has now freed them to do so -- show that a gun in the home is 43 times more likely to be used against a family member or friend in anger than to repel an intruder. A gun is ten times more likely to be used against a woman in an act of domestic violence than by a woman, either in an act of domestic violence or against an intruder, inclusive. And if I recall correctly, 22% of all domestic violence gun deaths are children.

Too, because of Republican efforts, gun manufacturers are exempt from civil liability statutes. This is outrageous. If a tobacco company puts out a product that, used correctly, kills you, then they are liable for putting that product out there, particularly if they do not take the proper steps to ensure you understand the risks involved from the get-go.

Which is what that tobacco settlement a few decades ago was all about: the blatant cynicism of the cigarette industry to push a product that kills.

Does anyone see a difference between that and guns? Because I sure don't.

If you own a gun, you'll be expected to take responsibility for it. Period. No more leaving the safe half-unlocked, no more letting it lie around with bullets in the clip or magazine. You bought it. You own it. Learn how to use it and keep it safe. I imagine insurance companies will fall all over themselves to find ways to offer discounts, like those five hour driver safety courses that get you ten percent off your car insurance.

This will not be expensive, but it will protect responsible gun owners who take great care of their weapons at the expense of the knuckleheads who do not. Because, frankly, those are the people we need to target.

It will take time and arm-twisting for the Federal law exempting gun manufacturers from liability to be overturned. In the meantime, imagine how much more thought George Zimmerman would have put in if he had a premium spike on his mind as he stalked and then murdered Trayvon Martin.

This is a great idea and I endorse the effort, and urge my legislators to pass it quickly. The time has come.