Mark Greene says its time to require gun owners owners to insure their weapons.
Most of us would agree that guns such as shotguns or deer rifles, are about hunting, target shooting and being a sportsman. But assault style weapons are not about hunting wildlife or skeet shooting. They are about military combat and killing lots of people very very quickly. And there is a wide range of weapons in between.
Since we’re not likely to be able to remove the already vast numbers guns in the American marketplace, we can at least hold the owners of more powerful weapons responsible for the very real danger that these kinds of guns represent to the rest of us. Its time to require owners of assault style weapons to insure their weapons for, say, $200 a year. Other guns could be insured for far less. Some standard hunting rifles and shotguns would require no insurance at all.
The reasoning is simple. In America, if you own a car, you must buy insurance. Why? Because cars can kill people. Why not the same with an gun? This would create a pool to pay for the damage done when these weapons are used to commit violent crimes. And the by product of insuring assault weapons and other combat style weapons? The newly created gun insurance industry can then do what the insurance industry does best, namely, background checks.
This should be agreeable to the more conservative factions on our country as it takes background checks out the hands of the Federal and State Governments and puts it in the hands of private industry. A private industry who’s profits depend on doing these checks well.
And insuring more powerful weapons would be an appealing new market for insurance companies because of the relatively low likelihood of any given weapon being used in a crime, much less a mass killing. The insurance industry, working in partnership with state and federal governments would manage the insurance pool, and provide background checks on their policy holders to insure they do not have a criminal record or a history of mental illness. Gun owners rates for insurance would go up or down depending on the presence of things like trigger locks and gun cabinets. The more secure you keep your weapons, the lower your rates.
When mass shootings occur, the insurance pool would provide funds to pay for the vast range of costs associated with this kind of crime, including funerals, medical care, psychotherapy and social services, compensation for lost wages, and the range of other costs that would normally fall on the helpless victims and their shattered communities. It is simply no longer acceptable for the arms manufacturers, gun dealers, and and combat style weapon enthusiasts to expect taxpayers to pick up the bill when crimes are committed with these weapons.
Meanwhile, those who choose not to properly insure their combat weapons or 30 shot banana clips would be subject to a fine if they are caught blasting away in the woods without their insurance card. If they continue to fail in their responsibility to insure such weapons, the weapon can be legally confiscated. And if you own and uninsured weapon used in a crime? You can be sued for damages by the victim or victims of that crime.
In a perfect world, we would not be imagining the horror of shielding our children from a firestorm of bullets, spewed out by weapons that serve no real purpose beyond their relentless capacity for shooting people. But this is the situation each and every one of us finds ourselves in. Its a huge problem. But as any red blooded American will tell you, market forces, not government regulation are the best solution for solving our society’s problems. Or, at least, putting a serious dent in them.
Requiring that gun owners insure their guns will empower market forces other than gun manufacturers and the NRA to enter the legislative fray. Not only will the victims of gun violence have financial recourse when assault style and other weapons are used to commit crimes, the insurance industry’s vast army of lobbyists will have something new to talk about with our elected officials. Namely, how to best curb gun violence. Because every murder committed with a gun will reduce their bottom line.
Many people rightfully say that even if we outlaw assault weapons today, there are too many already in circulation. This will address that issue, by required law abiding assault weapons owners to insure their weapons, thereby insuring that these weapons are in the hands of responsible owners. And each time they pay that bill, assault weapon owners will no doubt give additional thought to whether or not they really need such a weapon.
But the bottom line is this: if you own a car, you are obligated to insure it. Why? Because of the very real danger it represents to your fellow citizens. It’s high time we treat dangerous weapons in the very same way.
A number of commenters have noted the difficulty of defining exactly what qualifies as an assault weapon. An alternative approach would to simply insure all weapons that hold more than a certain number of rounds or are above a certain caliber. This would dramatically reduce the annual fee for any given weapon and insure that there is clarity about what is required under the law.
Insuring guns is not about punishing law abiding gun owners. But if we insist on placing the value of unrestained and unlimited gun sales over the safety of our general population (which we most certainly do) then we must collectively insure our guns in order to protect the innocent men, women, and children who are impacted by our national pro gun priorities.