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Mandatory Gun Insurance – A Practical Plan To Change America’s Cowboy Gun Culture

by Jean Ann Esselink on December 27, 2012

in Guns,Jean Ann Esselink,Legal Issues,News,Opinion

Post image for Mandatory Gun Insurance – A Practical Plan To Change America’s Cowboy Gun Culture

In the days before Christmas, I offered a proposal to put in place a legal system that would allow a family member, or an associate of a gun owner, to go to court and persuade a judge there was enough concern to warrant issuing a “temporary restraint order,” which would rescind his right to possess a gun. If an order was granted, the potentially dangerous gun owner would have his guns removed by police and his name put on the “no buy” list for a year. After that time, the judge could reevaluate the situation if there was a renewed complaint against him.

I chose a year because lot of gun violence is situational - people going through a divorce or the loss of a job, for instance. To have his guns returned sooner, the gun owner would have to show to the court he was not a danger, which would entail a mandatory psychiatric evaluation. That interview alone would be a boon to society. It would give a mental health professional a contact point to identify people on the edge, and get them some help before they go postal.

Since making that suggestion, like many Americans, I have been thinking about other ways we can make our country safer, given the constraints of the Second Amendment. This idea isn’t mine. I came across it in a Facebook comment to my “gun restraint” piece. The post was from my friend Allie McNeil, a writer, and deep thinker, whom I have followed for years on Twitter in her guise of @watergatesummer, which, incidentally, is the title of her latest book. I have no idea if this is Allie’s original idea, or if she came across it somewhere and recognized its genius. I do know I have been thinking about it ever since I first heard it.

Require all gun owners to carry liability insurance on every gun they own.

The most obvious benefit comes by way of compensation to victims. I know money can never make up for the damage a gun can do, but compensation is not an insignificant matter. Consider someone who is paralyzed, or left brain-damaged, or permanently disabled by a gun. That victim would be assured of having things like ramps, and nurses aids, and whatever other therapies he required, guaranteed for his lifetime. Currently, unless the locality has a “Victim Fund,” a shooting victim receives only the benefits his own medical insurance or Medicaid provides, and medical insurance does not include things like home modifications for a wheelchair, or hand controls for cars. The insurance companies wanting to participate in this new, no doubt lucrative market, could also be required to create a fund to take care of victims injured by uninsured guns, making sure anyone hurt by a gun has a recourse to whatever services they require.

Because money is always a great motivator, another benefit of insuring guns is that it would change the behavior of some less than vigilant gun owners. People who leave loaded guns in the bedside table might reconsider that habit, since they are on the hook for a sizable deductible if someone gets hold of their gun and hurts someone else. Insurance companies would no doubt give policy discounts for gun owners who buy trigger locks or gun safes. Premiums would reflect the gun owners’ risk factors, like arrest and psychiatric histories. The more guns you own, the more it will cost. In other words, the market, so loved by the Right, just might cause gun owners to amass fewer guns and to be more careful with the ones they own.

Finally, mandatory gun insurance would result in a legal way to get guns out of the hands of our least reliable and most dangerous gun owners. Honest citizens who want to hunt, or shoot competitively, or protect their home or business will comply with the law and buy insurance. Those with less honorable intentions will not. But police would be able to confiscate any gun they find that is uninsured. I’d like to make such confiscations permanent. Don’t step up and insure your gun? Lose it forever.

There is one more unintended benefit I can see happening if we require guns to be insured. The insurance companies will do a lot of the archiving of ballistic information we don’t allow police to do. Insurance companies would want ballistic signatures from every gun they insure. They would need it to verify, in the event a claim is filed, that it was indeed the gun they insure that caused the damage. While it is hardly a substitute for a national ballistics registry that would allow investigators to trace the gun that fired any bullet they recovered, police could subpoena ballistics information from insurance companies, helping in investigations and prosecutions, without ever having to build their own database.

So now we come to the sticking point. Is it constitutional? I know the NRA will say government cannot impinge on a right. It’s the same reason they use to oppose a national gun registry. But we know from the Supreme Court’s Affordable Care Act decision, that the Government can require citizens to buy insurance, don’t we? And we know Congress has restricted gun ownership before with the expired assault weapons ban, which was also upheld by the Court. And, need I remind you, a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion has been restricted so badly it’s on life support. My own state of Michigan has just passed a law that makes it illegal to offer an insurance policy that covers abortion in our state. If government can forbid insurance coverage on one constitutional right, why couldn’t  government demand insurance coverage on a different constitutional right?

I don’t know if gun liability insurance would pass Supreme Court scrutiny. But shouldn’t ideas, like “Temporary Gun Restraint Orders” and “Gun Liability Insurance” and even a national ballistics registry be part of the national dialogue? Maybe you have some thoughts of your own about practical ways we can reduce gun violence? It seems to me, we need some fresh ideas, very badly.

More On This Subject:
How To Separate Unstable People From Their Guns – A Practical Plan

A Better Way To Stop A Bad Man With A Gun, Than A Good Man With A Gun

Obamacare Coverage For All Children Hurt By Guns: A Practical Change To America’s Cowboy Gun Culture.

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tncrmJean Ann Esselink is a straight friend to the gay community. Proud and loud Liberal. Closet writer of political fiction. Black sheep agnostic Democrat from a conservative Catholic family. Living in Northern Oakland County Michigan with Puck the Wonder Beagle.

Follow me on Twitter as @Uncucumbered or friend me on Facebook.


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usorthem3 December 27, 2012 at 9:53 am

We require minimum liability for cars, why not guns? It would be no different than requiring a hunting/fishing license.

Siddigfan December 28, 2012 at 9:26 pm

And I want to see a 50% sales tax on all gun and ammo sales with the proceeds going for mental health research and treatment programs! Wayne LaPierre wants to blame the mentally ill? Let him put his money where his mouth is. Over 50% percent of Americans will, at some time in their lives, suffer from some form of mental illness. Very, very few of them are ever violent!

MAD JEWESS January 14, 2013 at 1:43 pm

I want to see a 50% tax added to women who choose to murder their babies by abortion

AriesMatt December 27, 2012 at 10:30 am

The ideas posted in this article are genius. Really. I had just posted a response to a discussion about gun control two days ago and this insurance idea fills in the gap on how to implement pretty much everything I've suggested. Here are the comments from two days ago:

"Personally I think a ten clip maximum for any private citizen is reasonable, as well as background checks for any purchase of firearms anywhere – gun shows, retail, pawn, online and person-to-person. Add a two week approval period for all transactions. Gun registration and background checks should be implemented retroactively so ALL guns will be registered and the owners screened. It's a lot of regulation to implement but I'd feel safer."

Adding the insurance requirement to gun ownership adds a more thorough checking system and also creates more of a liability/responsibility for what happens to a person's gun. Brilliant!

jasebyrne December 27, 2012 at 11:58 am

My brother has an un diagnosed case of narcissistic personality disorder. He is also a police sgt, and a Lt Col in the Special Forces. The stories I hear from him are horrific, not because they are violent, but by the amount of amusement he had while engaging in them. I am a former soldier myself, to be clear, I have no issues with military action nor police engagement. His ex wife dated a police officer after she left him, the young man was essentially told by the other officers to back off or else. A message my brother put out. He left her.

Are you truly counting on the police to get my brothers guns if he chooses to ignore the law…after all for him, laws are nothing more than rules everyone else has to follow.

uncucumbered December 27, 2012 at 12:10 pm

No law can magically make everyone safe in every situation. But this insurance law could improve the state gun ownership in America, including for the victims of gun violence. However, the "gun restraint order" might work with your brother, have you read that idea? There is a link at the bottom of this article.

guninsurblog December 27, 2012 at 8:20 pm

Thank you for writing about guns and insurance. I am looking for ideas on the subject and blogging at a new blog '' Please take a look and let me know if you have ideas I can share. email to

Tom Harvey

uncucumbered December 27, 2012 at 8:48 pm

I am not able to find your page Google says the URL is not on the server. Do I have it wrong? I'm interested in any new ideas your blog generates though. I hope you will share them.

guninsurblog December 27, 2012 at 11:25 pm

You are right the blog wasn’t working without the ‘www’ on the front of the address as I gave it.  I fixed that and you can try again or use the long form of the link <a href="http://www.guninsuranceblog.com<br />I’ll be glad if I get your comments.   It’s a process getting started on this blog and there is so much to discuss on this subject.Tom

guninsurblog December 27, 2012 at 11:27 pm

You are right the blog wasn’t working without the ‘www’ on the front of the address as I gave it. I fixed that and you can try again or use the long form of the link <a href="http://www.guninsuranceblog.com<br />I’ll be glad if I get your comments. It’s a process getting started on this blog and there is so much to discuss on this subject.Tom

greenmannowar December 28, 2012 at 10:09 am

I havew an idea…

We should regulate that everyone who owns a gun has to take as safety class AND the classes would be regulated, or the FEDS would certify who can teach the class.

In training, the teacher would also do some basic tests/questions to see if that person is sane or potentially dangerous.
I know we cant make each person see a shrink, but this is simply to detect and possibly catch a few that are not mentally in the right frame of mind to own a firearm.

uncucumbered December 28, 2012 at 10:47 am

Good thoughts.
You should read How To Separate Unstable People From Their Guns – A Practical Plan – There's a link at the bottom of this article. It addresses establishing a process where a family member or the firearms instructor in your example could go to court for a temporary gun restraint order. Right now, even if that range instructor is worried, there is no action he or the police can take on suspicion alone. If you read it, I'd be interested to know your thoughts.

tseman December 28, 2012 at 4:59 pm

I'm completely against this idea. It's clever but it's dangerous. People think of corporations as "private". They are not. They are chartered by the state. More and more our government is using the corporate entity to hide nefarious deeds from public oversight. The government has the power to regulate guns. I like this just fine! What I don't like are corporate mercenary groups and private prisons and Monsanto contaminating entire species with toxin producing genes. Corporations make for crueler masters than government.

So we HAVE to buy car insurance and then we HAVE to buy health insurance and now… well… *g* this is great! We can use the HUGE insurance corporations to subvert ANY mass behavior we don't like!

Truly, I saw this slippery slope clear back in high school when car insurance was first mandated. If there is a government mandate, I still believe there has to be a public option.

I'm also against this form of passive aggressive coercion. Putting a profit incentive on limiting gun owner ship? That will be about as successful as private prisons. In Pennsylvania their was a racket going where a judge was incarcerating kids for little or no cause. Those kids' lives were screwed so the a-holes could get rich.

Let's not address this issue using some back door and state chartered mega corporation. We kneel before unaccountable corporate masters to rid us of our rights and responsibilities. It's bad enough we do this for our out of control government. Can't we just face the issue head on with the tool (government) that was designed for regulatory action? Can we not become more involved in our government instead of behaving like hapless consumers and begging the corporations to take away our rights and responsibilities for a fee?

This isn't just a philosophical argument for me. Look at corporate power in general. No one's gone to prison from stealing trillions of dollars on wall street. Both Obama and Bush have wall street insiders in their cabinets shielding these guys. Monsanto is contaminating entire species with toxic genes and this is all happening behind closed doors with no accountability, transparency or oversight. NO! I don't think corporations need any more power in this country. I don't think our government needs to use any more of them to handle it's dirty work out of public scrutiny.

Watch the documentary "the Corporation" and dig into the site for more information on corporate powers.

greenmannowar January 4, 2013 at 10:26 am

a couple more ideas.
there should be a database for everyone who already owns a assault weapon with a repeating 3yr registration (about $20 ?).
that way FBI could track where they all are. If the weapon is sold, that has to be recorded as well.

i dont know much about the ammunition, but that should be regulated as well (and taxed highly)

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