Lund on Liability Insurance for Gun Owners

The author of an article suggesting liability insurance for gun owners credits the idea originally to an article by Professor Nelson Lund appearing in the Alabama Law Review 25 years ago.

"One of the problems with gun control measures is that they are really designed in a way that substantially interferes with the right of law-abiding citizens while doing very little about the behavior of criminals or irresponsible people," Lund said.  

"My idea was to suggest an idea in which a statute might be drafted that would be designed to inhibit the possession of firearms by irresponsible people and do what liability insurance at least partly does and that is compensate the victims of irresponsible behavior," Lund explained. 

While the idea of mandating liability insurance has been around for a while, no state ever has tried it; however, a state representative in Massachusetts recently introduced legislation requiring liability insurance for gun owners in his state. 

Time Is Ripe To Consider Liability Insurance For Gun Owners, Hartford-Courant, January 21, 2013. By Rick Green.

"Obviously, criminals won't bother with insurance, gun-safety classes or storing their weapons properly. But the insurance industry, which is built upon careful analysis, could force larger changes in gun safety while keeping at least some guns out of the hands of the irresponsible.

"Peter Kochenburger, a University of Connecticut Law School professor and executive director of the Insurance Law Center, noted that insurance is often used as a form of private regulation. In this case, liability insurance would also create a pool of money to compensate victims of gun violence.

"Insurance companies 'have the ability to collect the data and they have the analytical approach to understand the risk,' he said. 'This is their business. They make money or lose money over time by their assessment of risk. They aggregate a lot of data and assess risk.'

"Shortly after the Sandy Hook shootings, a Reuters columnist revived the liability insurance for guns issue, arguing that 'guns as weapons are inherently dangerous to society and owners should bear the risk and true social costs.'

"Gun owners, columnist John Wasik said, should be required to pay for the risk that comes with weapons.

"'I'm applying more of a market economics view,' Wasik told me. 'If we cannot regulate this through constructive means, there are other ways of looking at this in terms of pricing the risk.'"

"The responsible gun owners will not get penalized. The people who are most at risk will pay more."

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