I was reading over the new gun control proposals from California, and the one that stuck out to me as the most infuriating was the requirement for all firearms owners to carry liability insurance. “Car owners carry insurance, why not gun owners?” was the refrain from the gun control advocates. It’s one of those analogies that seems to make sense on the surface, but once you understand what’s really going on it makes you want to kick the whoever’s saying it in the family jewels . . .

First, let’s understand how car insurance works. Not everyone gets the same quote for the same level of coverage. Some people pay more based on the risk they pose. And to illustrate that, let’s look at two situations for the exact same vehicle. Say, a new Ford Focus SE.

Person #1 lives in the suburbs, owns a home in a safe neighborhood and has a garage. They use the car to commute to work, and have no criminal history or accidents in their past. They’ve never been late with their mortgage payments and have no outstanding debt.

Person #2 lives in the inner city, in a rather bad part of town. They park their car on the street. They rent an apartment, and have been late in paying the rent a couple times. They have some outstanding debts and they’ve been in a couple car accidents.

From the insurance company’s perspective, one of these car owners is a safer bet than the other. That is, the probability that the insurance company will need to pay out for an accident or theft for Person #1’s car is drastically lower than Person #2. They can do the math using something called the “annualized loss expectancy” which is how much money they expect to pay per year based on a given person and car, and then calculate the rate accordingly. In order to make money, they’ll need to take in more money than they pay out, so using the ALE as a baseline they can calculate how much each person is going to have to pay the insurance company. That becomes their annual rate for car insurance.

For the exact same level of coverage, person #1 pays a little. Person #2 pays a LOT. The reason is that person #2 is more likely to be involved in an accident or the victim of a crime involving their car. So therefore, since Person #2’s ALE is higher, their annual rate is also through the roof.

For firearms insurance, it will be calculated the same way. Those more likely to be involved in a firearms related incident will pay more. In other words, those more likely to need a firearm will be charged more. Poor people. Statistically speaking, Blacks and Hispanics living in high crime areas. The same people that need firearms for self defense the most will not be able to own a firearm because they are more likely to need it (and therefore need to pay more money).

Its quite possibly the clearest example of a catch 22 I’ve ever seen in real life. Since you are more likely to need a gun to defend yourself, you need to pay more insurance. And since you live in a high crime area you’re probably not going to be able to afford the insurance to defend yourself from criminals and thus lower the crime rate. Its a closed, positive feedback loop with no way to improve the situation.

Even if we assume that the government sets a mandatory maximum on the amount of money that can be charged for firearms insurance, we’re talking about a country that is clawing its way back from a recession (if not full-blown depression). A recent survey found that something like 40% of Americans are living on the brink of bankruptcy. “One financial issue and four weeks away” I believe was the phrase they used. And the government wants to force those people to pay more money to a 3rd party, a private insurance company, in order to exercise a Constitutionally protected right.

When the choice is eating for the week or paying your firearms insurance premiums, I’m willing to bet that disarmament is the option people would be most likely to take. And I’m willing to bet that the politicians see it that way too.

Here’s another issue with fixed cost firearms insurance: I sincerely doubt any insurance company would be willing to make such a thing available. When a single civil suit can bring millions of dollars in damages, it would take similarly millions of paying customers to pay that single case of damages and remain financially stable. Two or three claims in a year could bankrupt a company. Its too risky. And so if no one is offering insurance, no one can buy insurance. And therefore, no one would be able to own a gun.

This is one of the ways in which the Democrats are trying to keep the concentration of firearms in the hands of the upper class. Its an idea that seems logical on the surface, but when you look at how it would be implemented (even in the BEST case scenario) it would concentrate firearms ownership to those with money, while leaving those who need to defend themselves the most defenseless. Therefore, since white people only account for less than 10% of those living below the poverty line, firearms insurance is inherently racist.

Yep. The very same politicians that argue for equality for everyone, for giving a helping hand to those in need through welfare and other social programs, want to restrict rights based on people’s socio-economic status. They want only the wealthy in America to own guns and be able to defend themselves.

I’m sure David Gregory would approve.

1. SO Obama must hate every thing even himself. Hate black car hates black rifles hates blacks having guns. SO he must hate himself for being black.

• The anti gunners that are advocating this idea are either very stupid or ignorant of gun culture and the Bill of Rights. The number of individuals that own firearms and the number of accidents caused by firearms is very very low. Mandatory gun insurance would be very very cheap. For example for 2-5 million in coverage it would be less that 50 bucks a year. However this idea also interferes with our 2nd amendment rights.
A right does not require insurance to exercise it. A right is given to us by God not by man. Everyone has the right to self defense.
This also brings to mind the idiots trying to ban lead in bullets. They are hoping to outlaw all hunting and self defense ammunition by making lead illegal. Well duh there are new and better monolithic bullets made entirely out of copper on the market.

• Gun insurance is like buying life insurance for criminals.I have no children nor do any come into my residence.The only way anyone get a hold of my fire arm is if I allow it. The other ways are all criminal: burglary, battery and robbery.

2. Wouldn’t this be fall into the same category as charging a poll tax to allow people to exercise their constitutional right to vote? Or requiring them to pay for a state-issued ID to do the same?

• We are actually looking into this. There is credence to your statement and we hope if this lunacy passes we can get it tossed, just like an ammo tax, or anything else they try to do!

• It takes MORE than looking into this. There needs to be billboard ads and an organized campaign. Go against “reverends” sharpton and jackson. point out their hypocrisy. put them on the defensive for being racist.

• Makes you wonder how so many states can legally get away with charging you to be able to own a gun, doesn’t it? If you have to pay to get a permit to be in possession of a gun (like Illinois’ FOID), how can that possibly be constitutional? You’re imposing a fee to exercise a right.

• Because they can. They can pass an unconstitutional law in an instant and it can take effect immediately (e.g., NY SAFE Act). But it can take years or decades to challenge the law in court. Sullivan laws have been on the books in NY for a century. Racist and unconstitutional.

• YIPPEE! At last some others picking up my Poll Tax question! Owning and/or driving a car is not a right nor is it protected by a Constitutional amendment. The right to keep and bear arms, and to vote, is protected. SCOTUS has ruled that to charge a fee or require certain qualifications before allowing a person to vote is a violation of their civil rights under the Consitution, a Poll Tax. Any fee or licensing requirements from the state (or federal) government before you can exercise your Second Amendment rights is the exact same thing as a poll tax, hence unconsitutional.

3. Does the PROPOSED Policy have an UN-INSURED ownes override, as when a Holdup man shoots you.
YOU CAN collect from the Company, Same a when an Illegal Alien crashes into your car you can collect.
If you go 6 months without shooting some one do you get a “GOOD GUN CARRIERS DISCOUNT”?

John in Arizona, A conceled carry FREE state

4. This is easy Nick. They want to make it impossible except the vary rich to be able to afford guns legally. Of course this does nothing to stop gun violence, or make our streets safer. It does not go to pay for harm to others. Face it if your car is stolen and the guy runs over someone, are you libel? Oh heck no!
the fact is law abiding gun owners barely have accidents, although we do publicize it here, fractionally it is tiny.
Will the insurance companies shell out millions to families because your stolen gun was used on their precious family member, oh hell NO!
If you or your child goes and shoots someone with your gun you can already be held libel. So this does nothing.

• Close, but not quite. You’re on the right track, though.

The effective result of this policy would be to deny firearms ownership to the least affluent, not reserve them for the most affluent. If I’m following their “logic” to its inevitable conclusion, all those filthy brown people would have stop shooting each other in the cities because they couldn’t afford gun insurance, then nobody else would need guns nearly so much. Right?

I’m kidding, of course. The disarmament advocates don’t have racist intent — they hate and fear all gun owners equally. Their real intent is to raise the friction in the firearms-ownership experience to the point that people just give up, and the ranks of gun owners start to dwindle. This would be one more hurdle to work past, and cost to bear, in the ever-growing list of impediments to buying and owning firearms.

• +1. Look at NFA items. Yeah, SBRs, SBSs, and suppressors aren’t BANNED, per se, but the hoops you have to jump for and the massive PITA it is discourage most from purchasing them – essentially a ban. The logic is, since grabbers can’t ban guns completely, they’re going to make life a living hell for anyone who tries to buy one.

• The express purpose of the NFA was to impose a registration requirement as well as a tax of \$200–the then cost of a new automatic firearm, as a way of discoouraging ownership of such firearms without, according to the Attorney General at the time, invading the 2A.

5. maybe we should have free speech insurance as well. Just in case your words cause someone a lost job opportunity, friendship or otherwise do harm. It’s a common sense law that we can all get behind

6. Isn’t requiring a gun owner to be insured a commercialized form of gun registration? All the State needs to do is one day order the insurance firm to turn over all the names and addresses of gun owners and presto there is the list.

7. the “well its ok for cars why not guns” logic does not work. 16 year olds can bring cars to school but not guns! why? its the logical thing to allow/not allow.
oh i just remembered, the people that use the “its ok for cars then its ok for guns” type people don’t have the necessary brain power to realize that.

• Typically they still have to leave the cars in the parking lot, though. Just like with guns. If they try to take the car into the classroom with them, there would probably be a bit of a fuss.

8. Heh. It’s usually the Republicans favoring policies which concentrate wealth and power in the hands of the few, sometimes with some implicit racism thrown in for good measure. I guess it’s only fair that the Democrats get to try the same thing, except focused on one of their hot-button topics.

9. I believe the arguments on both sides are based on a false premise: That this “insurance” would actually BE insurance. It’s not, and it won’t be.

It’s not actually insurance. It’s another TAX… the equivalent of a poll tax (tax on your rights).

I bet it will be a flat rate based on the number (and kind) 0f guns you own rather than actuarial tables calculating any sort of risk.

These new laws (NY) and proposed laws (CA) are so “ambitious” and draconian, that it may work in our favor. They are so blatantly unconstitutional, they should be easy pickings to strike down in court. Just my opinion.

• That’s only because the founders never imagined anyone would presume to control your personal transportation equipment.

• They didn’t foresee the technological advancements that brought about the automobile so cars are not protected.

But seriously, look at the stats, the number of car accidents are astronomical compared to gun accidents and liability insurance usually doesn’t cover any damages related to criminal activities, so the premise is completely flawed to begin with. Even if you have a situation where the insurance is allowed to operate as they think it can you make the victim pay for the damage of the crime on top of being robbed themselves while everyone else pays annually. I guess they want to subsidize crime. Seems like something the Democrats would do, but doesn’t seem very common sense for mainstreet.

10. It’s obviously just a round-about way to add a regular tax to firearms to discourage some from buying or keeping firearms. What we really need is a tax on those that do not own any firearms because they cause a higher workload for police, such as in a Vermont proposal: http://gunowners.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/vermont-bill-would-fine-citizens-for-not-having-a-firearm/

“…assess a fee of \$500 for the privilege of not owning a gun”. That’s more like it.

Such a poll tax, as described above, would also take gun ownership from the realm of an inalienable right to a privilege, furthering the anti-gun agenda, and would give an effective leverage tool by manipulating rates.

11. Democrats being racist is no news. I’m just glad right now isn’t as bad as the 1836 election and the preceding years, especially in Mississippi where extra-political means were the party’s bread and butter. Nevermind the Black Panthers showing up at polling places during the most recent elections… I wonder if they understand how ironic it is that they are supporting the Democratic party just because the President is black?

(I recommend reading Ray Raphael’s “Founding Myths” if you want to know more. It’s a bit dull until the halfway mark, but worth it.)

12. If this was implemented I wouldn’t buy insurance, would you? I have had car insurance since I owned my first car at the age of 16. In all my years of driving I have only been in 1 accident. It was not my fault and the person that hit me didn’t speak English or have insurance, surprise surprise! Nothing happen to her except a small ticket for the traffic violation. I had to either claim it on my uninsured motorist, or pay for the damages myself. The car was pretty old at this point so I just left it wrecked. Illegals get away wit this all the time, hell some people don’t even want us to say the word illegal alien. So why should I comply with a stupid law that says I have to buy insurance to exercise a guaranteed right?

13. One aspect of the proposed insurance requirement that has received little notice so far is that under existing California law, insurance does not cover the insured against intentional acts. See e.g. California Insurance Code Section 533. This then undermines the stated rationale for requiring firearm insurance: that it would compensate the victims of so-called gun violence. Except in cases of negligent discharge, insurers would be under no obligation to pay out on a claim, and even then, the insurers would do their best to characterize every instance of gun use as intentional, so as to never pay out at all. Thus, the net effect of this law would be to simply punish law abiding gun owners by forcing them to purchase ‘insurance’ that is, in fact, of little to no use.

• You are spot on. I wrote a longer reply, but I think the spam filter got me. To summarize, I think Nick’s analysis is off the mark. This insurance is available from various sources, including the NRA, USCCA and the CHLPP, which most importantly provides a defense to the shooter in a self-defense shooting. I wish these legislators would talk to insurance companies before they run their mouths about stuff they obviously know nothing about. And yes, the net effect will be to raise the cost of gun ownership, and yes that is the real goal here. Just look at the other proposals: two taxs on ammo, a required ammo ID card (with a background check to be paid for by the applicant, renewably annually), a new handgun safety certificate, again renewable annually unlike the current HSC which is good for 5 years and costs \$25, which would require that the applicant take the same training required of a CCW applicant–which is up to 16 hours under current law. (Undtated, but possible, is that renewals would only require 4 hours training, as for CCW renewals–but CCW licenses are good for two years.

14. The inner city poor are more likely to opt for an illegal gun, or simply buy the insurance to get the gun and let it run out. The state would then have to require insurance companies to report when they or their clients cancel the insurance. Then I would assume the state would send a notice to the firearms owner that they have 30 days to get insurance or turn over their gun. The gun owner could then claim he sold the weapon which is why he let the insurance run out. Now the state needs to register all guns. Since the owner now owns an illegal gun he’s not about to report it to the authorities when it’s stolen.

Then there’s the issue of what an insurance company is expected to pay for. If your neighbor’s kid gets a hold of your firearm and accidentally shoots himself in the foot it would make sense that your firearm insurance would pay for his medical bills, pain and suffering, etc. To my knowledge though, no auto insurance company will pay for damages incurred by your car if it was stolen and the damages were incurred during the commission of a felony, so I doubt the insurance industry would want to pay for the same with a firearm. In fact I doubt any insurance company would pay for any willful misuse of a firearm, in which case the insurance would be rather cheap.

BTW, the Democrats have always been racists.

15. This is also being proposed here in Massachusetts.

Liability insurance has become popular among people who oppose the second amendment, but don’t see any practical way to overturn it. In essence, liability insurance is an attempt to pass unconstitutional gun control by privatizing it.

Even the more moderate proponents of gun insurance see it as a way to deprive “obviously troubled” people of firearms: http://bostonglobe.com/editorial/2013/01/11/requiring-insurance-could-help-curb-gun-violence/Vc21k0zzm1yD32gibqqVvK/story.html

Of course if it were really so “obvious” to determine who is “troubled,” states would already be doing this. So how will this be done? Who cares, just let the insurance companies figure it out.

Most likely, we’ll see millions of new prohibited persons (particularly among the young and the poor). And if that doesn’t work, millions more. And if it never really works, well at least we’re “keeping guns off the streets” and out of the hands of the next generation of young voters. Proponents of civilian disarmament think of this in terms of a long term culture war. They may have been losing recently, but it wouldn’t take much to tip the cultural balance in their favor in the years to come (at least that’s their thinking). Any new barrier to entry will reduce gun ownership. Since Massachusetts passed its major new gun licensing scheme in 1998, gun ownership has gone down over 80% (although it’s gone up recently).

16. Meh, its California, I couldn’t care less what laws they pass there. The smart ones will move away to better states. The others will stay and continue to vote for the same people and wonder why it keeps getting worse.

I consider myself American, but the government would consider me Hispanic or Mexican American. Anyway, there is a movement by Mexicans to take infiltrate the government of California (which is already happening) and one day they dream of completely taking it over and returning it back to Mexico. They say that land is rightfully theirs and was taken from them illegally. I am sure liberal/progressives from California will be quick to say this is a lie, but I heard it first hand from members of this movement, and no it wasn’t on the Internet. Of course they want Ca citizens to believe this is just a lie. The Democrats over there are playing right into their hands. I hope this really happens for obvious reasons.

• The Mexicans ARE taking over California–they are the largest minority gorup and are expected to outnumber whites in just a few years. The REAL problem is that they vote Democrat and are anti-gun.

• Move. With California they get Governor Moonbeam, high taxes, and government telling them what to do and how to do it.

• In regards to California, I say to Mexicans “Molon Labe”! No, seriously dudes, come take it, you can have it. Actually wait, no, the Dems would just come to real America and bring their politics. Sh*t.

17. If one does perpetrate a bad shoot, he is wide open to civil claims. But that assumes the notion that grabbers actually gave a shit about anything other than controlling the proletariat.

18. I would be remiss if I didn’t state that a huge percentage of South Central has no licenses, registration, and insurance, and they never will. I’m really getting tired of all these dumbass laws that are being proposed.

• We have that same problem here in New Mexico with illegal’s. The democrats here decided that if we gave them a valid license that they would then purchase insurance. OF course like all liberal ideas it has been a failure. Uninsured people is at an all time high and illegals are abusing the system and committing fraud with the ID system. It is so bad the federal government is threatening to not acknowledge NM ID’s if we don’t do something about giving them to illegals. Democrats cry and say this is unfair.

Anyway since they aren’t forced to buy insurance and the government is perfectly fine with it then why should any of us comply with a stupid law on gun insurance? How would they force us to buy it? How would they even know who is supposed to have it in the first place?

19. Here’s the way I see it. I pay about \$150/month for liability insurance on my car which I drive about 50 hours a month for a cost of \$3 per hour of operation. So figure if I ever get in a shootout it will last 5 minutes at most, so \$0.25 a year will cover any liability. I’ll send my agent a check for \$20 for 80 years of coverage and call it good.

20. Excellent point, Nick.

Keep up the great work!

21. & what they need is criminal safe zone insurance that guarantees that they can pay 20 million dollars for every shopper that is typically in their stores if they are shot dead, injured/wrongfull death. No more depraved indifference LLC crap. Randy

22. In all fairness, I don’t think this is the best argument against gun insurance. The best argument is that criminals are not going to buy any. That means it is a tax on people who abide by the law, which is exactly the wrong way to impose taxes.

If you wanted to do it right, you would require dealers to insure their guns against “theft” and other non-background-checked sales. The honest dealers would pay roughly nothing, and the dishonest dealers would pay roughly a boatload.

It is a well-known fact that about 1% of the gun dealers sell 90% of the guns that are eventually used by gangs. The government has no right to stop them, but the government can absolutely force them to pay the insurance premium.

• We see how the USDOJ survey in 1997 where felons identified purchasing their weapons from 80% street buys, 12% retail stores, 2% gun shows.

See a 68% reduction of retail stores at 12% x 32% (remainder) = 3.84%, 2% x 32% (remainder) = .64% gun shows in today’s numbers. 3.84% + .64% = 100%- 4.48% = 95.52%.

Firearm Use by Offenders, Bureau of Justice Statistics, November 2001 http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=940.

USDOJ Background Check & Firearm transfer report 2008 http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/html/bcft/2008/bcft08st.pdf

We see that between 2000-2008 only 13,024 were prosecuted, or less than 1%. Oh wait, its even worse….

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/2013/01/22/a_middle_path_to_reducing_gun_violence_300371.html

In 2010 alone out of 76,000 felons who were caught attempting to buy from a licensed source, only 44 were prosecuted, a .00059% rate, that’s less than 1/10th of a percent to you math illiterates!

So you are essentially claiming 90% of all the firearms acquired by the bad guys come from retail stores, when the BATF shows that in 2008 only 3.84% attempted to buy from a retail store, hmmmmm quite the contradiction there Dave.

There are more than 129,817 federally licensed firearms dealers in the United States, according to the latest Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives numbers (as of Aug. 1) . Of those, 51,438 are retail gun stores, 7,356 are pawn shops and 61,562 are collectors, with the balance of the licenses belonging mostly to manufacturers and importers of firearms and destructive devices.

Hmmmm 1% of 51, 438 = 515 gun stores that should be under criminal indictment by the BATF at this time, so where are all the pending court dates and charges Dave?

So what is it Dave, drinking a little to much this early or are you mistaken yet again?

23. Not that I’m in any way for this idea of liability insurance, but to be honest, I don’t think it will cost much at all, no matter where you live…especially if you have a concealed carry permit. Statistically, we’re not involved in any crime, and the number of defensive uses where someone actually gets shot is fairly low compared to, say, the number of car accidents.

On top of that, you have states like Florida where you can’t be sued for defensive use of a handgun. How much liability coverage could you even need?

And here’s another troubling idea about this liability insurance. Who does it pay out to? If you’re attacked, and you shoot to defend yourself, and he lives, does your attacker get the money? Doesn’t that incentivize armed assault?

24. So, since not owning a gun results in situations more likely to result in violence, injury, and death when attacked (including both victim and assailant injuries/deaths), and a gun/gun encounter is less costly on average than a gun/no-gun encounter, will non gun owners be charged more for gun insurance than gun owners? Non car owners will just stay off the streets, so naturally they don’t need insurance.

25. RF if someone sunbstitutes “car” for “gun” and vice versa, it makes a excellent article AGAINST car insurance.

26. I suppose it would be easy for me to just keep my mouth shut on this subject given that I’m one of “Us” and not one of “Them”. Obviously I’m clearly in favor of the 2nd Amendment and I carry a gun nearly everywhere I go, but to be honest, I’ve long advocated that people that carry loaded weapons in public should be required to carry liability insurance.

Now before you blast me as a racist or an anti, let me assure you, nothing could be further from the truth. I’m not, period.

My support of the insurance requirement is based on a completely different rational than the anti’s thinly veiled attempt to ban guns. I’m more concerned abou the innocent victims. Getting hit by a stray bullet isn’t simply an unfortunate statistic, for the victim, if they survive in the first place, it can be a life altering and financially devastating event. There is a cost for medical care, which would likely go far beyond the emergency room. Physical therapy, cosmetic corrections, psychological issues, physical limitations, etc. are all issues that the innocent victim will have to deal with. With insurance, those services would at least be available. Without it, well, you’re SOL. An unemployed person walking around one of our poorer neighborhoods doesn’t have many options on their own so the only place they can turn is to the person who shot them in the first place. Well, if that person is someone like me, they’re SOL still. I don’t have a pot to piss in. God forbid the innocent victim should be a little kid. Then he/she would have to go the rest of their life dealing with the consequences. I believe that as unfortunate as it is to be an innocent victim of a bullet, I believe it is just as unfortunate to continue to be punished for the rest of your life. What gets lost if the innocent dies? Dad’s no longer there to provide for his family. Mom’s not there to tell her kids to put on their coats before going out. The damage goes on long after it was inflicted. It’s not fair to saddle the expense of going forward on those that were not even involved in the incident to begin with. Insurance would help with that and I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the public to want those of us that carry weapons to be able to cover the monetary costs of an unintended shooting victim.

Now, blast away if you want, but this is how I feel and I’m not going to keep quiet about it just to avoid some heat.