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California May Become First U.S. State to Make Gun Owners Buy Liability Insurance

2:03 PM PDT on June 17, 2022

via Colin Lloyd/Unsplash

Amidst our country’s eternal undulations of “thoughts and prayers,” and genuine mourning for innocent victims piling up from the McMass Shootings™ wracking the U.S., California has emerged again with some radical ideas to try and do something that could tamp down on gun violence.

A new measure introduced on Thursday by Democratic California State Senator Nany Skinner in the State Legislature, to be added as an amendment to the gutted SB 505 bill, would force gun owners to purchase liability insurance covering the negligent or accidental use of their firearms, holding them responsible for the financial costs of gun violence that typically fall on the shoulders of survivors, families, taxpayers, and affected communities.

In essence, the requirement would resemble the insurance drivers are mandated to obtain when they want to operate the heavy metal, potentially deadly machines we call cars.

The gun owner would need to also specify with written evidence where they store their firearms, as well as carry their insurance with them whenever transporting them. If a gun owner’s piece goes off, due to an accident or careless act, killing or maiming one or more people, or damaging something of perceived value, the insurance would be there to cover those costs.

In a statement referenced in the Sacramento Bee, Skinner justified the experimental concept with this same comparison, saying, “Guns kill more people than cars. Yet gun owners are not required to carry liability insurance like car owners must. Why should taxpayers, survivors, families, employers, and communities bear the $280 billion annual cost of gun violence? It’s time for gun owners to shoulder their fair share.”

She continued, “When a gun owner calls their insurer to say, ‘Look, I need liability insurance now,' the insurer is going to say, ‘Where do you keep your guns?’ The more questions the gun owner can answer, proving to the insurance company that the gun is being kept safely, will mean a lower insurance rate.”

Sam Paredes, the executive director of Gun Owners of California, tells Yahoo! News that this is a violation of the Constitutional rights of U.S. citizens, because… of course he does.

Parades says, “By requiring somebody to get insurance in order to exercise their right to keep and bear arms, that ceases to make it a right.”

He also predicts there’s not a Hell’s chance of finding insurers who will be willing to cover the misuse of a firearm. Though, personally, we’ve seen companies agree to crazier things when there’s money to be made.

Skinner’s proposed bill comes on the heels of a similar requirement approved in the city of San Jose earlier this year that requires gun owner insurance, the first of its kind in this country, which drew instant federal lawsuits in an attempt to stop it.

A different measure introduced this year in California by Democratic Assemblyman Marc Levine would add an excise tax of 10% of the price of a handgun to its sale, and 11% to the sale of a long gun, ammunition, and parts to construct firearms. He estimates it would bring in $118 million each year to use for gun violence prevention programs.

Other laws introduced in California to try and reduce gun violence, among the many, include one that skirts federal laws to make it easier for victims and their families to sue gun companies, as well as a different measure introduced by Governor Gavin Newsom that would allow private citizens to sue individuals or groups that sell or distribute illegal weapons or parts to make them. Which sounds a little like Texas’ laws allowing private citizens to sue abortion providers, only stained with conservative tears for a change.

Hollywood, it seems, is also talking the talk about reducing gun violence on the screens. Over 200 writers, producers, and entertainers signed an open letter to their industry brethren and sistren urging everyone, NOT to stop showing guns on screens exactly, but to “be mindful of on-screen gun violence and model gun safety best practices.”

All of which sounds like so-called “liberal Hollywood” is coming off a little weak compared to so-called “liberal Californian” politicians.

But for those of us who are frustrated, knowing that guns have become the leading cause of death for U.S. children, and fed up greeting each week wondering where the next murderous AR15s and Ghost Glocks will pop off, devastating dozens of lives, we’ll take anything we can get from those who hold power.

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