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Winter 2019  Volume 15, Number 4        

gun safe

Mayor Proposes Mandatory Firearm Liability Insurance

A California mayor recently proposed that his city require all gun owners to carry insurance — or pay a fee that offsets the cost of gun violence.

"We require motorists to carry automobile insurance, and the insurance industry appropriately encourages and rewards safe driver behavior," said Sam Liccardo, mayor of San Jose, Calif. "We tax tobacco consumption both to discourage risky behavior and to make sure non-smokers are not forced to subsidize the substantial public health costs generated by smoking-related illnesses and deaths. These successful public health models inspire a similar ‘harm reduction’ approach for firearms."

The mayor was reacting to the mass shooting in Gilroy, Calif that left two children dead in September, as well as the mass shootings in Texas and Ohio that left 31 people dead earlier that month.

Firearms and Liability Insurance

Such insurance would cover things like the accidental discharge of a weapon, as well as liability resulting from the unintended consequences of the actions of a third party who borrows or steals another person’s gun, said the mayor. The insurance would not cover a person’s intentional conduct with a firearm.

As a matter of fact, the insurance that Mayor Liccardo refers to already exists. Most homeowners and renters policies already provide such coverage. The difference is that San Jose would make the insurance mandatory.

If you have homeowners or renters insurance your policy will cover you for gun-related injuries or deaths sustained on your property as long as it's not a criminal act.

One issue, however, is that criminal acts are often defined differently in each state. In some states, if you discharge a firearm while intoxicated, you may face criminal charges. Your policy would not cover you then.

Also, if a weapon is discharged in an act of self-defense or defense of property, things can get more complex. That's because the question of criminal or intentional damage will likely be invoked, as well as how that state's laws defines "reasonable force." In addition, the insured's state of mind at the time of the incident, and whether or not the act was criminal or negligible, are critical to the insurance claim's outcome.

Whether making liability insurance for accidental gun discharges mandatory can reduce gun violence is a public policy issue that people can debate. But it goes without saying that all gun owners should exercise stringent safety measures to prevent firearm accidents.

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In this issue:

This Just In...

A Quick Guide to Renters Insurance

Updates on the Automobile Technology Revolution

Mayor Proposes Mandatory Firearm Liability Insurance

How to Practice Firearm Safety



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