Originally written in August, 2014
This is an incomplete rough draft. I think it’s better to finally publish it than to let it gather any more dust.
There has been a recent trend of anti-gunners suggesting that gun owners should be required to pay for special insurance to “pay for the damage caused by guns”, by which they mean crimes committed with guns. They compare it to car insurance, but there are several problems with this concept.
Although I do often compare guns to cars, the comparison breaks down in this situation. Drivers are required to be insured, but that is to DRIVE, not to own. There is no insurance needed to drive a four-wheeler on private property, or to own a classic car that is in storage (and never driven). A car is operated on public roads, in public spaces. To extend the metaphor to firearms, it would be the equivalent of taking my rifle out to the front yard and shooting at targets on the sidewalk.
Next, there is the nature of insurance. Car insurance covers accidents, even negligence, but not willful criminal activity. To be more direct, if a maniac gets into a giant frackin truck and [VERBS] through a school picnic, there is no chance in hell that State Farm is going to pay the victims!
Although in some aspects, I would enjoy a requirement for accident protection insurance for gun owners because it would just prove us right. Firearms are relatively safe machines in our culture and accidents are very rare. Let’s look at some stats from the CDC: (I need to make a table)
accidental deaths: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr61/nvsr61_06.pdf
firearms: 851 deaths in 2011, 2 were infants (606 in 2010)
motor vehicle: 34,676 deaths in 2011, 92 were infants (35,332 in 2010)
“Overall, there were an estimated 254.4 million registered passenger vehicles in the United States according to a 2007 DOT study.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passenger_vehicles_in_the_United_States
So from this, it seems that there are probably more firearms in the US than motor vehicles, yet accidental vehicle deaths outnumber accidental gun deaths more than 40 to 1. Many car crashes cause multiple deaths, such as a car that collides with a van. In one case during a police pursuit, a runaway pickup truck accidentally hit a SUV, killing 6 family members inside. When was the last time you heard about somebody accidentally shooting an entire family?
Aside from the loss of life, we must also consider the potential property damage of accidents. Unfortunately, I doubt there is any source for the estimated property damage from motor vehicle accidents vs firearm accidents, but I would bet dollars to donuts that it is far more than 40:1. Car accidents are often brutal, damaging multiple cars. Many times, one or more cars are “totalled” at a value that easily reaches into the tens-of-thousands of dollars each. Hit a shiny new sportscar on the highway? Congrats, you just did $50,000 of damage! A car accident can even destroy a store https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AHk7zknXdU. And then there’s the damage to *your own car* to consider. What is the worst property damage a gun can do? A damaged wall? A broken window? I cannot conceive of any way a gunshot could do $50,000 of property damage unless it happened in an art museum or some other extraordinary circumstance.
Whether we examine the loss of human life or simple property damage, car accidents are far more dangerous than gun accidents. Correspondingly, gun insurance should be far cheaper than car insurance. “Should” is the key word. Insurance companies are notoriously over cautious and over priced.
insurance at shooting ranges
And even if insurance did pay for crimes committed with guns, it still wouldn’t work because the majority of gun-crimes are committed by … criminals! They already steal or buy their guns illegally, you think they’re going to pay for insurance? Some of the very worst gun violence happens in big cities where they either have an outright ban or a de facto ban on gun ownership. Those many, many homicides would not be covered by insurance. Even if a shooter were insured, he would need to be caught before his victims could file a claim against his insurance. … Unless they think that MY insurance should pay for his crimes.