By: Teresa Mull
The City of San Jose could make it a law that gun owners carry liability insurance.
Mayor Sam Liccardo, who introduced the legislation last week, says the mandate would follow the “harm reduction” approach used with car insurance: rewarding safe behavior, while covering the cost of accidents and neglect.
“Insurance can force people to engage in safer behavior,” he says. “Whether they get good driver discounts for airbags or discounts for having a gun safe and for having a child-safe lock.”
Under Liccardo’s proposal, liability would cover accidental shootings and acts committed by someone who gained access to the gun unlawfully, though insurance would not cover intentional shootings by the gun's owner. Anyone who couldn’t afford or find the insurance would be required to contribute to a public fund, which would go toward the public costs of gun violence.
Gun rights advocates argue the insurance requirement is a violation of the Constitution and would also deter people who can’t afford extra insurance from exercising their Second Amendment rights.
According to WBUR, Russ Roberts, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and host of EconTalk, told NPR in 2013:
"Many people already buy and own guns illegally without license or registration. Adding the cost of insurance would further discourage honest gun ownership. That would make matters worse, not better.”
Teresa Mull is editor of Gunpowder Magazine. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.