Mandatory Liability Insurance by Tom Reynolds
As SCOPE has stressed, the gun grabbers continue both direct and indirect threats to the 2nd Amendment. They view anything that would potentially destroy 2A, as worth their efforts. Currently in vogue is a push to require all gun owners to carry mandatory liability insurance. Gun grabbers want to make owning a gun unaffordable for many current and potential gun owners. Bills have been introduced at both the federal and state level to make this mandatory for all gun owners. For instance, HR127 would require all gun owners to buy an insurance policy with an $800 annual premium. (It is unknown how this insurance will be accomplished since some states, like New York, make it difficult to impossible to have gun liability insurance. But, since the $800 premium is a part of the proposed bill, the federal government will undoubtedly be involved.)
The question that is not being asked is: why have liability insurance? It seems as if that would be easy to answer, since we have insurance for almost everything else. But, it’s not so easy to answer when we look deeper.
As it is generally understood, liability insurance helps cover the cost of claims when the insured is responsible for bodily injury, property damage, etc. But for someone to be responsible, they must be negligent, among other requirements. (Legal papers abound on this subject, but for our purposes, we can keep it simple and focus on the insured’s negligence.)
2017 was a peak year for deaths by shooting with 39,773, per the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The FBI reported similar numbers. So, let’s use 2017 CDC’s numbers to better understand the need (or not) for mandatory insurance.
There were 39,773 firearm deaths in 2017. Of those, 23,854 were by suicide. Is there any need for liability insurance in a suicide? Not if the insured is the one committing suicide. (Dead persons can’t sue themselves for bodily injury.) The most often time that insurance could come into play is if the suicide used a gun belonging to someone else and that other person negligently allowed the suicide to use the gun. I’ll bet, in those cases where the gun belonged to someone else, it was a family member. Are other family members going to sue the family member gun owner? (Won’t that make family Thanksgiving dinner a little dicey!)
In summary, there would be very few times when liability insurance would possibly be used in suicides.
There were 14,542 murders in that year. Historically, 92% to 94% of murders are done with unlawful firearms. Obviously, unlawful firearm users will not have liability insurance. If 8% of murders were committed by lawful gun owners, that would be 1,163 instances when liability insurance would potentially be in effect. But wait a minute - insurance policies usually do not cover unlawful acts. Murders are the very definition of an unlawful act. So, even if those 1,163 murderers were covered by insurance, the insurance company would not have to pay. (Murderers would have wasted their premium money.)
553 additional deaths were by Law Enforcement Officers (LEO’s). They are covered by their department’s (or possibly union’s) insurance so they have no need for mandatory individual liability insurance coverage although some might also take out individual policies.
Another 824 deaths were unintentional or “other”: Hunting accidents, gun cleaning accidents, personal protection, etc. Here, there might be a need for liability insurance coverage.
In summary, as to deaths by firearms in 2017, there were 824 unintentional deaths and some small unknown number of suicides where liability insurance would come into play. Estimates are that there are 80 million to 100 million legal gun owners in the USA. That’s about 1 in 100,000 gun owners that would have a use for liability insurance. But that would be $80 billion in insurance premiums. (You are probably wondering what similar numbers are for car drivers and accidents? 240 million drivers have about 6 million accidents: 1 in 40)
Liability insurance would also cover instances where someone was shot but did not die or property was damaged. The above categories would still be applicable:
- Most attempted suicides by firearm are fatal. Of those few non-fatal suicide attempts, even fewer would involve a borrowed or stolen gun.
- Attempted murders are just as illegal as murders so there would be no insurance coverage.
- Non- fatal shootings by LEO’s would fall under the department’s general insurance policy.
- That leaves unintentional and “other” instances of non-fatal shootings. Since statistical studies focus on murders, this is an unknown number. Probably not a big enough number radically effect the 1 in 100,000 ratio.
What cannot be estimated is the effect of having a big pot of insurance money available. Will enterprising lawyers attempt some new, unforeseen strategies to raid the insurance pot-of-gold? (You can bet on it.) Even without insurance being an issue, we have seen instances where a criminal sues someone for shooting them, even though the criminal was committing a crime at the time of the shooting. (With a pot of money available, this would certainly increase.)
The proposed bills do not specify the coverage that would be mandated. The above narrative deals with what is generally called liability insurance. (The “Swamp” will decide specific coverage after the bill is passed.) This narrative does not deal with other types of policies that may be currently available, such as Concealed Carry Insurance. But it is almost certain that the mandated coverage would be different from Concealed Carry insurance.
So, the question is: with so little need for liability insurance, why mandate it? And the answer is: to make gun ownership unaffordable to most people.
By-the-way, there are other proposed bills (HR8 for example) mandating that all firearms transfers/loans must undergo a NICS check. If that bill and the insurance bill both passed into laws, would the person to whom the gun is loaned also need to pay an $800 premium for insurance? (You can bet on it!)