Columnist admits push for mandatory gun insurance is about chilling exercise of 2A rights

Columnist admits push for mandatory gun insurance is about chilling exercise of 2A rights
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Generally gun control advocates are pretty careful to couch their prohibitionary policies in more moderate language; “We’re not opposed to the Second Amendment, we’re just calling for reasonable restrictions like _____.”

Every now and then, however, you get someone who’s either willing to let their real agenda slip out or accidentally reveals their true intentions. Such is the case with Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik, who recently wrote in praise of San Jose, California’s requirement that legal gun owners carry liability insurance; a policy that’s set to take effect next month and is currently facing a court challenge.

In his column, Hiltzik first claims that San Jose’s new policy has a couple of goals; making legal gun owners “bear the cost of gun violence” as well as outsourcing “the regulation of gun safety to the private market, and to do so in ways that are immune to constitutional challenges.” That’s bad enough; after all, why should gun owners who haven’t committed a violent crime be any more financially responsible for the acts of violent criminals than anyone else? As for the idea that the private market will step in, I’d remind Hiltzik that insurance mandates are generally going to be handed down by politicians, not business owners, and they’re clearly subject to court challenge given the fact that San Jose’s insurance mandate is currently facing a lawsuit over its constitutionality.

Later in his column, however, Hiltzik lets slip the real impetus behind this terrible idea: to chill the exercise of our right to keep and bear arms.

Laws like San Jose’s and the proposals in California and other states might not keep events like the July 4 massacre in Highland Park from recurring, once a determined killer got his or her hands on a weapon. But they might limit that access by driving up the cost of ownership: Higher premiums might lead gun buyers to think twice about acquiring an assault weapon or multiple weapons or place the price of those weapons out of reach.

I appreciate Hiltzik’s candor about the actual intention behind these laws. It’s not about public safety. It’s not about reducing “gun violence”. It’s about reducing gun ownership, and the burden imposed by these insurance mandates would fall hardest, of course, on those living paycheck to paycheck and struggling in Joe Biden’s economy to put food on the table and gas in their car.

That doesn’t seem to bother Hiltzik in the slightest, nor does it give Georgetown University professor Heidi Li Feldman any cause for concern. She’s busy pushing other cities and states to slap their own insurance mandates on the books, and tells Hiltzik that the Second Amendment shouldn’t be a barrier to these types of laws were it not for those “extremists” on the Supreme Court.

Could the Supreme Court overturn these laws on 2nd Amendment grounds? “We have an extremist Supreme Court on the 2nd Amendment and I think they are looking to constitutionalize all sorts of laws that touch on guns,” Feldman says. “Do I think that the 2nd Amendment in any way requires the invalidation of laws like this? Absolutely not. They’re not a direct regulation of guns, but of the conditions of keeping guns on your property.”

Yeah, and poll taxes were just a condition of being able to cast a vote.

I’m not sure if Feldman is being duplicitous or just really dumb when she claims that insurance mandates for all legal gun owners are not a “direct regulation of guns.” If having liability insurance (which, by the way, doesn’t cover criminal acts of violence in the first place) is a requirement before you can legally own a firearm, then yes, that’s a direct regulation on gun ownership. And as Hiltzik has so helpfully reminded us, it’s a regulation intentionally designed to reduce the number of individuals who would otherwise be exercising their right to keep and bear arms.

As an armchair attorney, it seems to me that these provisions not only violate the text of the Second Amendment, but it’s history and tradition as well. In the Bruen decision, Justice Clarence Thomas talked about “surety laws” that were in place in several jurisdictions in the 19th century that “required certain individuals to post bond before carrying weapons in public.” Thomas rejected those surety laws as an analogue to New York’s “may issue” concealed carry licensing laws, and they don’t seem to be analogous to San Jose’s insurance mandate either. While “certain” individuals deemed by authorities to pose a risk had to post a bond before they could carry a concealed firearm, San Jose’s mandate deems every gun owner, and indeed gun ownership itself, to be a risky proposition that requires the payment of additional fees imposed by the government.

It’s not “extremists” on the Supreme Court that are the biggest roadblock for these insurances mandates. It’s the fact that the Second Amendment protects a real right; something that Hiltzik, Feldman, and the gun control movement cannot and will not acknowledge. They wrap themselves in the comforting lie that they’re fighting for public safety, when the reality is that they and other anti-gun activists are simply putting up massive resistance to the exercise of a fundamental civil right.