More gun control is opposed by many conservatives – the same people who often espouse market-driven solutions to problems.
I say “fine.”
Let’s implement a market solution to the gun problem here in the United States.
The problem is not guns, the problem is damage caused by guns
Responsible gun owners can keep guns safe and take responsibility when things go awry.
Guns are dangerous and sometimes cause injury to others.
We are required to carry car insurance because our cars are dangerous and sometimes cause injury to others.
So it should be with guns, too. Every gun and gun owner should be required to carry liability insurance (Maloney agrees). I am fine with people who feel they need a gun to own a gun. I just want all gun owners to be responsible. If you are a safe gun owner and use your guns in a safe way, you should be a very low risk and therefore pay very little for gun liability insurance.
The second amendment reads:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.1
These insurance companies could be established as co-ops, or as with early insurance that came from guilds,2 which could be basically militias that could self regulate – making certain that their members are responsible gun owners. The government would not need to register your guns, however you would need to have proof of insurance with the gun at all times. A system to verify this insurance coverage could be set up in a way that would protect gun owners.
There are lots of details that need to be worked out and many other steps may also be needed, such as a mental health reporting system. Certainly, any gun found without proof of insurance could be impounded (like your car can be if uninsured). This would give added leverage to law enforcement in fighting gang violence. Gangs often have “legal carry” members who hold guns for the gangs. Those guns would now need insurance or the police could impound them until the insurance is paid.
Payouts to those injured should be at least inline with automobile liability compensation. For “accidental” shootings I would suggest perhaps no less than $250k for a death and at least half that plus medical expenses for injuries. Perhaps this would help to compensate for the pain and suffering, as well as any long-term effects. For intentional shootings, I suggest a much greater amount.
Of course, the gun owner and/or family would not be eligible for payouts. If a gun owner’s child shoots themselves, the gun owner does not get the payout. Instead, that money would be paid by the insurance company to a fund that could then be used to compensate victims of uninsured guns.
Since more people are killed by the gun in their own hand rather than others, it would also be to the benefit of the insurance guilds/co-ops/militias to offer mental health coverage with their gun liability insurance. If a gun owner has suicidal thoughts, they would have an understanding, vested partner in getting help. NRA Suicide Hotline, anyone?
This would eliminate the need for a background check by the government. Let a registered, approved, responsible insurance company take care of that. Selling a gun at a gun show or over Craig’s List? You are liable unless the buyer has insurance for that gun. Your insurance company must keep collecting premiums until that gun is insured by the new owner (see how your insurance company likes your screening background check procedures). Are you a responsible owner with lots of guns? Insurance companies would be glad to give you a blanket policy that covers all of your guns for a reasonable price.
I would also say that if you lose a gun or have it stolen, you still remain responsible for the damage caused with it, and therefore would need to keep it insured until the subsequent owner takes responsibility.
Insurance companies often visit high-risk clients to make sure fire extinguishers are serviceable and that you properly handle slip and fall hazards. Insurance companies might also check on gun locks, trainings, storage procedures, etc. This would lower rates, and even more important, make guns safer.
Perhaps the most appealing aspect of this idea is how it can be sold. No threat of “taking your guns” or limiting the purchase of guns. Any waiting period would be imposed by the insurance company, while they decide if you are a risk. Having insurance is simply saying “I am a responsible gun owner” and that you are responsible for he damages your guns my bring. How to you argue that you don’t want to be a responsible gun owner? There will be gun insurance companies that will have the confidence of all except the most radical gun owners.
Insurance companies were the driving force in making cars safer – they could do the same for guns. It would be a simple market-driven answer.