Requiring gun owners to buy insurance is flawed concept

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Should gun owners be required to purchase insurance?

Of course not. The concept makes little sense.

Yet, some state lawmakers in Illinois, California, Connecticut and Maryland have urged mandatory liability coverage for gun owners arguing that health insurance is now required for all Americans and auto insurance is required for owners of motor vehicles in many states.

The effort is also being promoted by at least one House member in Congress.

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., introduced legislation earlier this year to prohibit the sale of firearms to uninsured people. She called her proposal a “market-based approach” and likened it to car coverage, which is required in many states.

The concept is as flawed as the comparison.

Insurance companies, as they do now, would insist mandated policies excluding “criminal” acts. If laws banned insurance companies from exclude “criminal” acts, the price for the insurance would be so high most folks couldn’t afford it.

And what would governments do to those who won’t or can’t buy the insurance? Take their guns away?

Besides, “criminals” wouldn’t get the insurance anyway.

This is one of those feel-good proposals that isn’t rooted in reality. Comparing mandating insurance to own a car and drive with mandated insurance to own firearms is flawed.

Driving is a privilege, gun ownership is a right

Now, we concede there are limits to Second Amendment gun rights, just as there are limits to First Amendment free-speech rights, but mandating insurance seems to be an effort to undercut established gun rights. It creates an unnecessary, and perhaps unconstitutional, barrier to gun ownership.

Mandating gun insurance is likely seen as de facto gun registration by those who oppose any restriction on Second Amendment rights.

And finally, the insurance companies are bucking any gun mandate as unworkable (or, perhaps, unprofitable). Bottom line there is no incentive for the companies to make this work even if they could.

“We oppose proposals that would mandate gun liability insurance, as property-casualty insurance does not and cannot cover intentional criminal behavior,” Willem Rijksen, a spokesman for the American Insurance Association, said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg News.

To this point, the efforts in the various statehouses as well as in Congress don’t have much traction. Let’s hope reason continues to prevail and this unworkable, unrealistic idea remains stuck in legislative limbo.

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