Anytime a pundit says “here’s a ‘gun safety’ idea that even conservatives can get behind,” you know you’re about to hear something that no conservative would actually support. Such is the case with the arguments of two Michigan attorneys, who say a conservative approach to gun safety starts with mandatory insurance requirements and a government list of gun owners.
Now, I’m not sure if Barry and Bryan Waldman actually believe their own sales pitch, but I’m curious to know what exactly makes them believe that conservatives, who (generally speaking) value individual liberty and seek less government intrusion into the private sphere, would eagerly embrace this steaming pile of “common sense gun safety”.
Some car owners recklessly increase the risks, but even responsible drivers can make mistakes. Very few people have the financial resources required to even begin to compensate victims and their families for the harm they have caused by their recklessness or honest mistakes. Indeed, this is exactly what insurance was designed to do: pay a loss that a person can’t afford on their own, in the unlikely occurrence of worst-case scenarios.
Auto insurers assess the true risk of owning and driving a car, and consumers are required to pay a premium which accurately reflects that risk. If a person has a history of reckless behavior, their insurance premiums go up. If their prior behavior is bad enough, they may become uninsurable.
Additionally, if an insurance company prices an individual’s coverage too high, that person has the right to shop for the same insurance coverage with different companies and get the best rate. This system of requiring all vehicle owners to buy insurance puts a price on the risk that comes with car ownership, and it does so in a way that conservatives should embrace — it allows the free market to decide what is fair and help solve a problem, rather than the government.
Okay, let’s stop there for a moment. A government requirement that individuals purchase auto insurance negates the idea of this being a truly free-market enterprise. And the same would be true when it comes to schemes to require all gun owners purchase insurance.
This free-market system to improve safety could be easily implemented for guns. Every gun would need to be insured. All those in a household would need to be identified. Insurers could give discounts for things that make guns safer, like trigger locks, just as they do for safety features in cars, like airbags.
Let’s stop there with “every gun would need to be insured,” because that’s where the Waldmans will lose many conservatives like myself. Why, exactly, would I be eager to embrace a government-imposed prerequisite to the exercise of a constitutionally protected right, especially one that requires me to pay money to a private company before I can do so? Oh, and we have to identify every person in every home with a gun too? Oh yeah, conservatives will be falling all over themselves trying to get on board this bandwagon.
Prior bad acts, like drunk driving violations, would increase premiums. Other risk factors, like age and whether one has taken a gun safety class, would be considered — as would the kind of gun being insured. A Ford F-150 costs less to insure than a Corvette. Likewise, a hunting rifle should cost less to insure than a semi-automatic handgun.
There is no doubt that in America individuals have the right to bear arms. Like it or not, the U.S. Supreme Court has made that point clear. But with any right comes a cost, and it is time to let the free market tell us the true cost of gun ownership.
Did you notice that the Waldmans never got around to opining about what should or would happen to gun owners who don’t get their mandatory Second Amendment insurance? In Virginia, the potential penalty for driving without insurance includes a fine of up to $500, suspension or revocation of your drivers license, and a 3rd degree misdemeanor conviction.
Now, the law clearly doesn’t prevent people from actually driving without insurance. Instead, it punishes them after the fact if (and only if) they’re caught. And whether or not the law is necessary or a positive good, it’s hard to argue that the lower your income levels, the more likely it is that you’re going to be driving without insurance.
The same would largely be true if the Waldmans’ terrible idea ever came to fruition, though you’d also have the added phenomenon of millions of Americans refusing to purchase gun insurance because of their political convictions. Compliance would be non-existent, as well as immediately (and I believe successfully) challenged in court. I’m not sure why Barry and Bryan Waldman think that conservatives would be enthusiastic about criminalizing the exercise of a civil right, but I can assure them that they’re wrong.
I really am at a loss as to why this pair centered their whole pitch around the idea that this is a “conservative solution”, but I guess maybe the idea is that since Democrats don’t seem to be able to get gun control rammed through Congress or most state legislatures, maybe they can sucker Republicans into getting behind the idea? All I know is that the day a government-mandated insurance requirement to exercise your Second Amendment rights can be considered “conservative,” is the day I stop considering myself one.