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Measure In California Would Force Gun Owners to Buy Insurance As More States Introduce Legislation

Posted on 06 Feb 2013 by Neilson

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Gun liability insuranceDemocratic lawmakers proposed legislation Tuesday that would require California gun owners to buy liability insurance to cover damages or injuries caused by their weapons.

Similar bills have been introduced in other states after the Newtown, Conn., school massacre. They include Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and New York.

"I was moved, like many others, being the father of two young children, by the Sandy Hook incident and looking for constructive ways to manage gun violence here in California as well as the rest of the country," said Assemblyman Philip Ting of San Francisco, who introduced AB231 along with Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez of Los Angeles. "There's basically a cost that is born by the taxpayers when accidents occur. ... I don't think that taxpayers should be footing those bills."

Ting equated the idea to requiring vehicle owners to buy auto insurance. Gomez said it would encourage gun owners to take firearms safety classes and keep their guns locked up to get lower insurance rates.

No state has enacted the requirement despite repeated previous attempts, said Jon Griffin, a policy analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Bills have been offered unsuccessfully in Massachusetts and New York since at least 2003, when the conference began keeping track, he said. Similar bills were proposed in Illinois in 2009 and in Pennsylvania last year. Lawmakers are introducing the bills this year in even more states after the recent shootings.

Some proposals would require buyers to show proof of insurance before they could purchase a weapon. The proposal in California would apply to anyone owning a weapon, Ting said, though the bill's details are still being worked out.

Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, said most gun owners already act responsibly and can be sued for damages if they don't.

He said the proposal is part of an ongoing attempt to "price gun owners out of existence," particularly the law-abiding poor who live in crime-ridden areas and need protection the most. Criminals would ignore the law, he said.

Moreover, he questioned whether it is constitutional to require someone to buy insurance to exercise a constitutional right.

"If they don't address it in committee, I'll guarantee they'll have to address it in court," Paredes said.

Ting said he and Gomez plan to work with gun owners and opponents to craft a constitutional bill. It will not require insurance companies to offer gun insurance, but will encourage them to enter the market.

He noted that the National Rifle Association itself already offers its members the chance to buy liability insurance, despite its opposition to requiring gun owners to buy such policies.

Ting also introduced AB232, which would give a state income-tax credit of up to $1,000 to anyone who turns in a firearm to a local gun buyback program. The amount of the credit would be determined based on the value of the weapon.


The Old Guy Feb 6 2013 11:41AM Report Abuse
If I am reading Assemblyman Ping's comments on the bill, his plan is not to insure the owners liability if he does something wrong, but to require insurance for the GUN, in case "IT DOES SOMETHING WRONG". No one insured an inatimate object for doing wrong, not cars, not bikes, not books or shoes. It is not the "thing" that does wrong, it is the "person" who does wrong. Now, insuring the "person" who owns the gun for things he might accidentially do is available today, and I would guess most gun owners are insured. However, they are not insured for "intentianal acts" and not insured if someone steals their gun and does something wrong with it. Again, the "person" who did the wrong, is not the "person" who is insured.
Janice Fortney Feb 6 2013 11:06AM Report Abuse
This is about as dumb as it gets. No insurance company is going to insure an intentional act by an insured. Insurance is intended to cover accidental events, which insurance already covers for responsible homeowners who have insurance. Do you really thing thugs carry HO insurance and are going to be registering the guns they obtain illegally?? Legislators need to quit trying to police responsible people. Responsible people already have insurance!
Linda Smith Feb 6 2013 10:24AM Report Abuse
I agree with Sam Paredes. I too question whether it is constitutional to require someone to buy insurance to exercise a constitutional right. And criminals will ignore the law just like they are doing now!
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