State Issue: Should Gun Owners Be Required To Buy Liability Insurance?


The insurance industry will have a larger role in a heavily armed United States, but that role is in dispute, reports the New York Times. Legislators in at least half a dozen states, including California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania, have proposed to require gun owners to buy liability insurance, much as car owners are required to buy insurance. Doing so would give a financial incentive for safe behavior, they hope, as people with less dangerous weapons or safety locks could qualify for lower rates.

“I believe that if we get the private sector and insurance companies involved in gun safety, we can help prevent a number of gun tragedies every year,” said Massachusetts Rep. David Linsky. “Insurance companies are very good at evaluating risk factors and setting their premiums appropriately,” he added. Groups representing gun owners oppose efforts to make insurance mandatory, arguing that law-abiding people should not be forced to buy insurance to exercise their constitutional right to bear arms. The National Rifle Association backs voluntary liability policies for members. As states make it easier for people to carry concealed weapons and use them for self-defense, some gun groups are now selling policies to cover some of the legal costs stemming from self-defense shootings.

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