There’s an old saying that “No one has endurance like the man (or woman) who sells insurance.” But that’s not quite true. The antigunners show more endurance, pushing gunowner insurance proposals even when the insurance companies say they don’t want to write such policies. And when the insurance door doesn’t seem to open, the anti-gunners try the tax window.
The National Rifle Association recently submitted written testimony in opposition to Bill 20-170, the “Firearm Insurance Amendment Act,” sponsored by District of Columbia City Councilor Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), just one example of the kind of gunowner insurance and tax proposals being advances in Congress and the legislatures of several states.
B20-170 would require Washington, DC, residents to purchase liability insurance of no less than $250,000 before being allowed to purchase a firearm. The liability insurance policy would specifically need to cover any damages resulting from negligent acts, or willful acts that are not undertaken in self-defense, involving the use of the insured firearm while it is owned by the policyholder. If passed, the proposal would require individuals who currently possess firearms in the city to purchase liability insurance within 30 days of its effective date.
The city councilmen who are championing this bill are doing so in spite of the fact that DC already has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, yet consistently has one of the highest violent crime rates. Not only will criminals certainly avoid purchasing liability insurance, there are other problems with mandating liability insurance for firearms owners including: •Insurance companies don’t seem enthusiastic about the proposals.
•The NRA says the proposal is an affront to law-abiding gun owners— “you are not required to carry insurance to exercise any other constitutional right.” •It is economically discriminatory— insurance is expensive and such a mandate could make firearm ownership even more unattainable for average law-abiding DC residents who have an inherent right to self-defense regardless of income.
•No insurance company will write a policy to cover the intentional or criminal misuse of a firearm, whether for a national or a state law.
Since the insurance policy ordinance seeks to mandate something that does not exist, the NRA says this could lead to an all-out gun ban in the District of Columbia.
The insurance proposals are matched by another threat: States and cities across America are pushing for higher taxes as a way to enact gun and ammunition control legislation.
Gun buyers in Chicago started paying a $25 tax on firearms recently, under a county tax law that is expected to bring in some $600,000 in new revenue annually.
Other jurisdictions around the country have pushed measures that would tax firearms and ammunition, as well as require gunowners to purchase insurance, though not all the attempts have been successful.
Several states including California, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Illinois have considered but so far have not passed gun insurance legislation similar to Cheh’s. Similar proposals also are floating around the legislative halls in Pennsylvania and Maryland.
Wherever these proposals surface, insurers have been telling lawmakers that such approaches would not only violate basic insurance principles but would also be unworkable.
“Though well intentioned, such proposals misunderstand a fundamental principle of insurance—that it is designed to cover fortuitous, or accidental events; not intentional conduct.
Property/casualty insurance does not and cannot cover intentional behavior such as criminal acts,” said Willem O.
Rijksen, vice president of public affairs for the American Insurance Association.
According to Jimi Grande, senior vice president of federal and political affairs for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, gun liability insurance measures would neither deter violence nor help victims.
“Liability coverage is designed to protect against accidental damages, most of which involving guns would be covered under a homeowner’s insurance policy. While some policies may provide coverage for liability stemming from the intentional use of a firearm for defensive purposes, no liability insurance product covers intentional acts of malicious violence, whether committed with a gun, a car, or any other instrument that is used as a weapon to deliberately harm people,” said Grande.
“It is inconceivable that any insurer would offer such coverage, either as part of a homeowners or renters policy or on a stand-alone basis.” However, sponsors of the insurance mandates seem oblivious to the insurance industry’s warnings.