Should Gun Owners Be Required to Buy Insurance?

Copyright 1999 by Hugo S. Cunningham and others

first drafted 990817
first posted 000211
last updated 000211


From a Usenet thread

Newsgroups:
alt.society.liberalism,talk.politics.misc,talk.politics.guns
Subject: Re: Treat guns like cars: registration and liability insurance required.
From: hcunn@removethis.tiac.net (Hugo S. Cunningham)
Date: Sun, 16 May 1999 16:09:16 GMT

bredon@no-spam.com wrote:

>All gun owners should be required to carry liability insurance against
>damage caused by their guns -- just like car owners.

[rest deleted, but an earlier post raised the same question]

Newsgroups: talk.politics.guns
Subject: Re: mandatory insurance
From: hcunn@removethis.tiac.net (Hugo S. Cunningham)
Date: Thu, 19 Nov 1998 09:13:17 GMT

beenz@nycap.rr.com (Joseph Java) wrote:

>Are there any states that require you to have insurance of some kind
>if you carry a gun? It would make sense, at least outside the home.
>Carelessness and recklessness by a minority of the people will always
>cause some harm so long as people carry guns. It is the same as with
>automobiles. There are hunting accidents every year in NY State. If
>you accidently hit someone you could get sued and you could lose
>everything you own. That is different than hitting someone with a car
>in only one way: with a car you have insurance and generally that will
>cover almost any accident, if you exercised reasonable caution. The
>insurance bites into the wallet

If designed properly, it shouldn't cost law-abiding and responsible gun owners anything. "Proper" design would include at least 3 features:

Any mandatory-insurance scheme that does not acknowledge the value of crimes prevented by law-abiding gun owners, and instead "bites into the wallet," is stealth Prohibitionism, and should be firmly opposed.

>but having to suddenly pay $20000 for
>medical expenses could be worse.

>I can see gun carrying insurance happening in the future because there
>would be money to be made. It might have some beneficial effects :
>people who undergo training courses or who had been in the military
>could be given discounts. And people with "safe" guns (with the newer
>trigger locks, etc) could get a discount also.

only to the extent such discounts are actuarially justified. Rates should not be artificially skewed to force people to buy sharply more expensive weapons that (1) might not function, or (2) whose safety functions are routinely bypassed by users.

>There is no sure way
>to single out unsafe, reckless people in order to charge them more for
>their insurance, but a rough system like they use for cars might work.

H--l, no! Are you going to allow criminals to buy insurance (driving up everyone else's rates) by joining an "assigned risk" pool?

>I can see this for carrying guns in public, but in your home such
>insurance should be your choice.

[...]

I agree with your last clause.

--Hugo S. Cunningham


I append selections from some later posts to this thread

================
Newsgroups:
alt.society.liberalism,talk.politics.misc,talk.politics.guns
Subject: Re: Treat guns like cars: registration and liability insurance required.
From: bredon@no-spam.com
Date: Mon, 17 May 1999 22:33:50 GMT

On Mon, 17 May 1999 19:47:45 GMT, hcunn@removethis.tiac.net (Hugo S. Cunningham) wrote:

[...]

>Do you have any objection to the following three provisions I would
>attach to any mandatory insurance requirement (reposted from earlier):

> (1) No requirement to sell to poor risks, eg those with criminal
>records or mental health problems, who would drive up costs and
>insurance rates.

As in background checks, etc? Sounds like something the gun control people would like.

> (2) A workmen's-comp-style scale of payment for damages: payment
>only for provable economic losses, with additional compensation for
>injuries and deaths only according to a predetermined scale. No
>fanciful and totally arbitrary "punitive damages."

Some sort of ceiling or limits on this might be reasonable.

> (Punishment is the
>function of prisons and electric chairs, not of everyman's insurance
>premium.)

Who said everyman's? There are many insurance companies. Poor driving risks have to go to sleazy companies and pay more. If you have handled your guns well, you'll have a record that will give you good rates with a good company.

Whoever wants to buy a gun from you, would have to /first/ show proof of insurability -- /before/ you hand the gun over to him. He doesn't get possession, till the liability has been legally transferred to him. If he has a bad record, paying high premiums is his problem. If he can't get insured anywhere, you don't have to sell to him.

[...]

Cheers,
Bredon

========
Newsgroups:
alt.society.liberalism,talk.politics.misc,talk.politics.guns
Subject: Re: Treat guns like cars: registration and liability insurance required.
From: hcunn@removethis.tiac.net (Hugo S. Cunningham)
Date: Wed, 19 May 1999 23:19:48 GMT

"gruhn" wrote:

>I wonder what they would have said if somebody said "horses and buggies will
>be registered and drivers will have to pass a test"

Libertarians ask that question from time to time. The difference is that while it is very easy to kill someone accidentally with a car, it takes a lot of effort with a horse. A horse is *far* more dangerous to an incompetent rider than to anyone else. For similar reasons, there has been no serious effort (in the USA anyways) to license bicyclists.

--Hugo S. Cunningham

========

Newsgroups:
alt.society.liberalism,talk.politics.misc,talk.politics.guns
Subject: Re: Treat guns like cars: registration and liability insurance required.
From: hcunn@removethis.tiac.net (Hugo S. Cunningham)
Date: Wed, 19 May 1999 23:16:59 GMT

bredon@no-spam.com wrote:

>On Mon, 17 May 1999 19:47:45 GMT, hcunn@removethis.tiac.net (Hugo S. >Cunningham) wrote:

[...]

>>Do you have any objection to the following three provisions I would
>>attach to any mandatory insurance requirement:

>> (1) No requirement to sell to poor risks, eg those with criminal
>>records or mental health problems, who would drive up costs and
>>insurance rates.

>As in background checks, etc? Sounds like something the gun control people
>would like.

On background checks, there is little difference between moderate "gun control" people and the moderate wing of the NRA, eg Charlton Heston. The sparks start to fly, however, when gun prohibitionists mislabel themselves gun "control" advocates. For the gun prohibitionist, just wanting a gun to protect one's home or one's life (eg from a violent ex-boyfriend) is itself proof of a "mental health problem."

>> (2) A workmen's-comp-style scale of payment for damages: payment
>>only for provable economic losses, with additional compensation for
>>injuries and deaths only according to a predetermined scale. No
>>fanciful and totally arbitrary "punitive damages."

>Some sort of ceiling or limits on this might be reasonable.

>> (Punishment is the
>>function of prisons and electric chairs, not of everyman's insurance
>>premium.)

>Who said everyman's? There are many insurance companies. Poor driving risks
>have to go to sleazy companies and pay more. If you have handled your guns
>well, you'll have a record that will give you good rates with a good
>company.

If an huge and unpredictable "punitive damage" award is made for one incident, that will be a substantial increase in the risk of selling to *everyone*, and in the premiums that will be charged to *everyone*. Regular damages, predetermined by law, are incentive enough for an insurance company to raise a negligent gun-owner's premium, or to drop him entirely. And, of course, his victim should be encouraged to sue him personally.

>Whoever wants to buy a gun from you, would have to /first/ show proof of
>insurability -- /before/ you hand the gun over to him. He doesn't get
>possession, till the liability has been legally transferred to him. If he
>has a bad record, paying high premiums is his problem. If he can't get
>insured anywhere, you don't have to sell to him.

In general, I would accept that, provided there are emergency
procedures, available under police control, for someone with a clean
record to get a gun promptly even if all the insurance companies have
closed for the day. Often it is only a matter of hours between when a
woman first has reason to fear a violent stalker and when he strikes.

[...]

--Hugo S. Cunningham

========
Newsgroups:
alt.society.liberalism,talk.politics.misc,talk.politics.guns
Subject: Re: Treat guns like cars: registration and liability insurance required.
From: bredon@no-spam.com
Date: Thu, 20 May 1999 05:54:10 GMT

On Wed, 19 May 1999 23:16:59 GMT, hcunn@removethis.tiac.net (Hugo S. Cunningham) wrote:

>bredon@no-spam.com wrote:
>>On Mon, 17 May 1999 19:47:45 GMT, hcunn@removethis.tiac.net (Hugo S. >>Cunningham) wrote:

[...]

>>>Do you have any objection to the following three provisions I would >>>attach to any mandatory insurance requirement

[...]

>>> (2) A workmen's-comp-style scale of payment for damages: payment >>>only for provable economic losses, with additional compensation for >>>injuries and deaths only according to a predetermined scale. No >>>fanciful and totally arbitrary "punitive damages."

>>Some sort of ceiling or limits on this might be reasonable.

>>> (Punishment is the >>>function of prisons and electric chairs, not of everyman's insurance >>>premium.)

>>Who said everyman's? There are many insurance companies. Poor driving risks >>have to go to sleazy companies and pay more. If you have handled your guns >>well, you'll have a record that will give you good rates with a good >>company.

>If an huge and unpredictable "punitive damage" award is made for one >incident,

As in medical malpractice suits? As I said, some limits and ceilings might be reasonable.

I assume the ceiling would be on what the insurance company had to pay, rather on what the shooter had to pay. Eg, if one of the Littleton guys had survived and been sued for $10m, his insurance company would not pay it (all), but he would still have the whole debt against him.

>that will be a substantial increase in the risk of selling >to *everyone*, and in the premiums that will be charged to *everyone*. >Regular damages, predetermined by law, are incentive enough for an >insurance company to raise a negligent gun-owner's premium, or to drop >him entirely. And, of course, his victim should be encouraged to sue >him personally.

Good point.

[...]

Cheers,
Bredon

========
Newsgroups:
alt.society.liberalism,talk.politics.misc,talk.politics.guns

Subject: Re: Treat guns like cars: registration and liability insurance required.
From: hcunn@removethis.tiac.net (Hugo S. Cunningham)
Date: Thu, 20 May 1999 18:22:08 GMT

bredon@no-spam.com wrote:

>On Wed, 19 May 1999 23:16:59 GMT, hcunn@removethis.tiac.net (Hugo S. >Cunningham) wrote:

>>bredon@no-spam.com wrote:
>>>On Mon, 17 May 1999 19:47:45 GMT, hcunn@removethis.tiac.net (Hugo S. >>>Cunningham) wrote:

[...]

>>>> (2) A workmen's-comp-style scale of payment for damages: payment >>>>only for provable economic losses, with additional compensation for >>>>injuries and deaths only according to a predetermined scale. No >>>>fanciful and totally arbitrary "punitive damages."

>>>Some sort of ceiling or limits on this might be reasonable.

>>>> (Punishment is the >>>>function of prisons and electric chairs, not of everyman's insurance >>>>premium.)

>>>Who said everyman's? There are many insurance companies. Poor driving risks >>>have to go to sleazy companies and pay more. If you have handled your guns >>>well, you'll have a record that will give you good rates with a good >>>company.

>>If an huge and unpredictable "punitive damage" award is made for one >>incident,

>As in medical malpractice suits? As I said, some limits and ceilings might >be reasonable.

>I assume the ceiling would be on what the insurance company had to pay, >rather on what the shooter had to pay. Eg, if one of the Littleton guys had >survived and been sued for $10m, his insurance company would not pay it >(all), but he would still have the whole debt against him.

Good distinction. My analogy with "Workmen's Compensation" was not perfect, because "Workmen's comp" usually bars further lawsuits against the employer (policyholder). Like you, I would allow additional lawsuits against negligent gun owners, above the value of the insurance coverage.

[...]

--Hugo S. Cunningham

======== Newsgroups: alt.society.liberalism,talk.politics.misc,talk.politics.guns
Subject: Re: Treat guns like cars: registration and liability insurance required.
From: aCUE@hotmail.com (OldSalt)
Date: Thu, 20 May 1999 17:53:23 GMT

On Thu, 20 May 1999 18:22:08 GMT, hcunn@removethis.tiac.net (Hugo S. Cunningham) wrote:


>Good distinction. My analogy with "Workmen's Compensation" was not >perfect, because "Workmen's comp" usually bars further lawsuits >against the employer (policyholder). Like you, I would allow >additional lawsuits against negligent gun owners, above the value of >the insurance coverage.

I wonder what further compensation you would have been able to collect from those 2 idiots in Colorado, if they had lived, for example. Maybe you would have gotten their baseball card collection, or their stereo. I highly doubt you would be able to get much more then that from a 17 yr old and an 18 yr old. I suppose you want to go after the parents of the minor for their finances.....unless your tricky insurance has a clause in it that prevents that. Let's see.....oh - attach the wages of the 2 ?? Hmmm....no that won't work since they don't earn much in jail. OTOH - maybe they would write a book about their adventures and if it's legal in CO for convicts to collect money that way.....well hell, you might end up with a gold mine.
Hmmmm....I wonder if some whackos would start to abuse this policy for an insurance scam like they do with faking car injuries ?? LOL

========
Newsgroups: alt.society.liberalism,talk.politics.misc,talk.politics.guns
Subject: Re: Treat guns like cars: registration and liability insurance required.
From: hcunn@removethis.tiac.net (Hugo S. Cunningham)
Date: Sat, 22 May 1999 18:46:46 GMT

aCUE@hotmail.com (OldSalt) wrote:

>On Thu, 20 May 1999 18:22:08 GMT, hcunn@removethis.tiac.net (Hugo S. >Cunningham) wrote:

[...]

>>My analogy with "Workmen's Compensation" was not >>perfect, because "Workmen's comp" usually bars further lawsuits >>against the employer (policyholder). Like you, I would allow >>additional lawsuits against negligent gun owners, above the value of >>the insurance coverage.

>I wonder what further compensation you would have been able to collect >from those 2 idiots in Colorado, if they had lived, for example.

[...]

As you say, not much. I see no reason not to allow the option of a personal lawsuit, however.

--Hugo S. Cunningham

========
Newsgroups: alt.society.liberalism,talk.politics.misc,talk.politics.guns
Subject: Re: Treat guns like cars: registration and liability insurance required.
From: aCUE@hotmail.com (OldSalt)
Date: Sun, 23 May 1999 02:56:21 GMT

On Sat, 22 May 1999 18:46:46 GMT, hcunn@removethis.tiac.net (Hugo S. Cunningham) wrote:

>As you say, not much. I see no reason not to allow the option of a >personal lawsuit, however.

Well I believe you are correct with this. It seems there is always the right to a personal lawsuit, unless their is a limited tort clause that prevents it. I guess we need to ask how much time and energy is worth pursuing all this, and in the long run, will it change any behaviors.......or are we just involved in an exercise of legality for legality and compensation sake ??

========
Newsgroups: alt.society.liberalism,talk.politics.misc,talk.politics.guns
Subject: Re: Treat guns like cars: registration and liability insurance required.
From: hcunn@removethis.tiac.net (Hugo S. Cunningham)
Date: Sun, 23 May 1999 19:42:51 GMT

aCUE@hotmail.com (OldSalt) wrote:

>On Sat, 22 May 1999 18:46:46 GMT, hcunn@removethis.tiac.net (Hugo S. >Cunningham) wrote:

[...]

>>As you say, not much. I see no reason not to allow the option of a >>personal lawsuit, however.

>Well I believe you are correct with this. It seems there is always >the right to a personal lawsuit, unless their is a limited tort >clause that prevents it. I guess we need to ask how much time and >energy is worth pursuing all this, and in the long run, will it >change any behaviors.......or are we just involved in an exercise of >legality for legality and compensation sake ??

As you imply, it won't deter criminal behavior any more than the prospect of prison. Nevertheless, in the context of an insurance requirement for gun ownership, the "exercise of legality" is a useful safety valve, to short-circuit attempts to milk mandatory-insurance funds for unlimited "punitive damage" awards.

--Hugo S. Cunningham


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