To the editor:
I have been following the gun debate and think that required insurance is a possible solution to many of the most politically difficult problems to reducing violence.
The type of insurance needed goes beyond the usual liability model. For most of the deaths and injuries, there is no one who is both negligent and could be made to have insurance.
But there is a type of insurance in effect in several states that could be a model for what is needed. No-fault insurance as it is applied to pedestrians (who are victims that often don’t have their own insurance) would work to cover nearly all victims, if applied to guns.
There is usually a pool financed by all insurers that covers hit-and-run or uninsured situations. The limits vary greatly from about $10,000 in Florida to unlimited lifetime care in Michigan.
It is also possible to avoid the widespread resistance to government registration of guns. If insurance was required of manufacturers only, but that insurer could only relinquish responsibility if another insurer (contracted by the new owner) took over coverage, then there would not be a need to track owners.
There would only be a need for some database to link the serial numbers of guns to the insurers. The cost would be low because the total number of persons injured by guns is much smaller than by cars and injuries not deaths are the major cost to insurers.
A no-fault model is much better than a liability model for guns. The original reason for adopting no-fault for motor vehicles in many places was to have medical care assured without waiting for the outcome of lawsuits.
Expanding liability for gun owners would be resisted and is not necessary for the goals of compensation for victims and having insurers work to discourage unsafe practices.
The coverage needs to follow lost, stolen or diverted guns because allowing guns to stray is the most important unsafe practice that we need to worry about. You can see more details at my blog http://guninsuranceblog.com