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Old February 8 2013, 11:08 AM   #21
gturner
Admiral
 
Location: Kentucky
Re: Liability insurance for their firearms - USA's solution?

There's also the problem that if you try to set up an insurance system backed by jury rules that would provide huge awards, the gun owner isn't the one paying the money, the insurance company is. That's not much of an insentive to change behavior.

You might think that the result would drive insurance rates up to unpayable levels, but at that point the law would get struck down under Heller because the Supreme Court ruled that states can't create an undue (but legally creative) burden on gun ownership (such as extreme ammunition taxes), because the purpose of the 2nd Amendment was to ensure a right. As they've ruled in other cases, the government can't use its power and cleverness to work around rights with burdens that are unjustly difficult to meet, such as saying you have the right to vote - if you can come up with a $20,000 voting fee and pass a literacy test in Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit. Unaffordable insurance would be such a burden, a back door gun ban that they found were unconstitutional.

A similar issue arises under any legislation that has the effect of forcing gun owners to keep all their guns locked in a safe (lest a jury find that an owner didn't properly secure his firearms), as the USSC also found under Heller that part of owning and bearing arms is having those arms available for actual use when needed. Otherwise the 2nd Amendment is just a right to own a title to a gun locked in a vault somewhere instead of a right to bear an actual arm as commonly understood. The Court said that doesn't cut it, either.

Combine both those aspects of Heller and it's clearly unconstitutional to create a condition where no one can afford the insurance costs of having a gun available for actual use in defending their home, so the idea of forcing everyone to keep their guns locked in vaults to avoid unlimited legal liabilities from theft won't past judicial muster.

Another, real problem could follow from these new and "innovative" financial liabilities the legislators want to cook up in an attempt to do something, however pointless and stupid, if it weren't for the fact that jurors aren't idiots. But if it worked we'd have the following business model:

Red is in a gang, and Blue is in a rival gang. Red figures out that he can drive out to the burbs and steel a .22 pistol from William Van Vorhees IV and use it to shoot blue in the leg. Blue claims he has no idea who shot him, but since William Van Vorhees' gun was left at the scene, Blue sues William IV and his insurance company for $500,000, and of course wins because that's the whole point of the insurance legislation.

Then Blue, having won his court case, drives out to the burbs and steels a .32 from Fredrick Lincoln Potterdam III and uses it to shoot Red in the leg, returning the favor and dropping the gun at the scene. Red claims he has no idea who shot him, but sues Fredrick, Fredrick's estate, and Fredrick's insurance company for $500,000 - and of course wins. After that, each member of Red's gang shoots someone in Blue's gang and vice versa, and then Red and Blue decide to franchise their operation and take it nationwide. Soon they realize they don't even need to run the risk of steeling rich people's guns because they can just steel the guns from their own fresh-faced gang recruits, who can't be discriminated against in either purchasing or insuring a gun. It's like a license to print money.

We get more gun thefts, more shootings, and have created a thriving and unbelievably lucrative criminal enterprise in gun thefts and staged shootings. There's no way for insurance investigators to stop it, because absent finding the actual shooters, there's no one committing a crime (other than what, getting shot in the leg for truck loads of government mandated cash payouts?)

Even if the insurers establish complicity of the gang recruits who are allowing their guns to be stolen (which is probably not a crime if the thieves don't have any criminal convictions), the perps don't have any money for the insurance company to go after because they're poor-as-dirt gang members whose only other employment option was holding up liquor stores or selling crack.

If the insurance companies raise their gun-insurance costs to cover the expenses of this enterprise, gun ownership is overly burdened and the insurance requirements would be struck down under Heller. If they try to focus their costs on the most at-risk groups their insurance rates would be struck down as discriminatory, just like housing laws and lending policies. The only option would be to spread the costs of the new criminal enterprise across everyone who carries home, car, and health insurance. Everybody loses except people who steal guns and shoot people, who make out like bandits.

It makes me wonder if the legislative proposals were inspired by Otter in Animal House who said, "I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part!"
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