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Old February 8 2013, 12:57 AM   #16
Captrek
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Re: Liability insurance for their firearms - USA's solution?

Rhubarbodendron wrote: View Post
At any rate it would make people more careful and hide their weapons better. That in itself would already be a big step forward.
How would that work? As long as the insurance companies have no way to monitor your safety practices, they can’t affect your premiums.
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Old February 8 2013, 01:56 AM   #17
MacLeod
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Re: Liability insurance for their firearms - USA's solution?

True, but they can place the onus on the person taking out the insurance to prove that they took all reasoanble steps to prevent their firearm being miseds. If the insured person couldn't prove they had, the insurance company wouldn't pay out leaving the persons whos gun was misueds with the possibility of a large sum of money to pay out.
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Old February 8 2013, 02:57 AM   #18
gturner
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Re: Liability insurance for their firearms - USA's solution?

^ Well there's the snag. Requiring them to pay out would require a verdict from a jury that in all likelihood won't hold them any more responsible than has been the case in civil suits against gun owners whose guns were taken or used for ill without their knowledge, consent, or approval for the past two-hundred years.

You can pass laws claiming all sorts of legal responsibilities, but if the jury just doesn't see it then they won't grant an award, and in this case what they need to see is actual responsibility for the final outcome that traces back to an event that occured possibly years earlier and seperated by perhaps half a dozen intermediaries.

For example, one of my friends had his gun safe ripped out of his floor by a Mexican and broken open by the railroad tracks. His personal Glock was removed and then used later that night in an attempt to trade it for hard drugs in a DEA sting operation. Had the DEA not recovered it the gun would've passed through all sorts of hands and ended up Lord knows where and used for God knows what.

You can write a law that say he's legally liable for whatever final outcome occured, but how on Earth are you going to convince a jury that he was in any way to blame, or even remotely connected to a crime other than as the victim of a robbery? Jurors are not idiots.

The other problem is that any such finding would set a legal precedent that you are responsible if teenagers break into your house, steal your beer, steal your car, and then get in some horrible traffic accident with lots of fatalities. In fact, you'd be responsible to the tune of potentially millions of dollars. If they stole your laptop and used it to hack into something, you'd be legally responsible. If you sold someone a laptop and they used it for a crime, you'd be legally responsible. All this due to precedent.

As it stands now, if a jury thinks you were willfully reckless or in cahoots with the perpetrator, they can already hold you liable. If prosecutors think you knowingly sold a gun to a criminal or sold it knowing it would be used in a criminal enterprise, they can already charge you with a crime.

The insurance angle doesn't actually add anything, and most gun owners - and home owners, already have insurance that would cover such things. The other problem is that unlike what is hoped for, the insurance rates cannot reflect the actual individual risk or the companies would be sued for bias or discrimination because guns in bad, low income neighborhoods are vastly more likely to be stolen or misused than a gun on a farm, affluent suburb, or gated community.

And the whole idea invites Constitutional scrutiny because you could also require $200 insurance to cover the risk of getting electrocuted in a voting booth, or require insurance to cover costs of illegal searches and seizures, insurance against the risk of being thrown in jail without charges, insurance against being forced to provide free room and board to soldiers, insurance against having your property seized under imminent domain, and of course insurance against libel suits if you want to print anything or post something on the Internet.
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Old February 8 2013, 04:51 AM   #19
nightwind1
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Re: Liability insurance for their firearms - USA's solution?

Robert Maxwell wrote: View Post
MacLeod wrote: View Post
Nor is a car deadly during is intended method of use (sure it can cause death and injury but most of those are accidental, very few car releated deaths are due to someone delibertly trying to run someone down).
Cars can kill or cause serious injury with just a moment's carelessness. Guns can, too.

Why should we hold car owners responsible for accidental or criminal misuse, but not gun owners?
If someone steals a car and kills someone with it, the car's owner isn't the one that gets charged.
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Old February 8 2013, 07:07 AM   #20
Captrek
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Re: Liability insurance for their firearms - USA's solution?

MacLeod wrote: View Post
True, but they can place the onus on the person taking out the insurance to prove that they took all reasoanble steps to prevent their firearm being miseds.
The onus is already on them. Gun accidents don’t happen because their consequences are insufficiently dire to deter carelessness. Gun accidents happen because people think they’re not going to happen.
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Old February 8 2013, 11:08 AM   #21
gturner
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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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