We can fix the gun problem. We can make America safer, without
our right to bear arms. And we can do it without an expensive,
and futile "War on Guns."
To solve the real problem (keeping guns out of the wrong hands-without
restricting other people) we must use an idea that has worked
losses from many other hazards: insurance. That's right, insurance,
system of risk-management contracts that lets people take responsibility
for choices they make that impose risks on others.
Insurance is what lets society accommodate technology. Without
would have few autos, airplanes, trains, steamships, microwaves,
skyscrapers, and little electricity, because only the wealthiest
accept the liability involved. When people are accountable for
imposed on others, they act more responsibly. Insurance is what
Rather than trying to limit access to or take guns away from
adults, we must instead insist that the adult responsible for
a gun at any
instant (maker, seller, or buyer) have enough liability insurance
the harm that could result if that adult misuses it or lets it
Who gets the insurance proceeds, and for what? The state crime
compensation fund, whenever a crime involving guns is committed
or a gun
mishap occurs. The more victims, the bigger the payout. The greater
damage (from intimidation to multiple murders and permanent crippling),
greater the payout. The insurers will also pay the fund for other
such as when a minor commits suicide by gun or accidentally kills
playmate with Daddy's pistol. This will reduce such mishaps.
very effective in getting people to adopt safe practices in return
When a crime involving a gun occurs, the firm who insured
it pays the
claim. If the gun is not found or is uninsured (and there will
many of these at first) then every fund will pay a pro-rated
share of the
damages, based on the number of guns they insure. This will motivate
insurance firms--and legitimate gun owners--to treat uninsured
poison, instead of as an unavoidable byproduct of the Second
Thus, insurance will unite the interests of all law-abiding citizens,
owners and others, against the real problem with guns: guns in
the hands of
criminals, the reckless, the untrained, and juveniles.
Like other insurance, firearm insurance will be from a private
association, not the government. Owners, makers, and dealers
self-insure, forming large associations just as the early "automobilists"
did. Any financially-sound group, such as the NRA, can follow
insurance commission rules and create a firearms insurance firm.
That's it. No mass or government registrations. Except for defining
rules, no government involvement at all. Each owner selects his
insurance firm. By reaffirming the right to responsible gun ownership
driving uninsured guns out of the system, we use a proven,
non-prohibitionist strategy for improving public safety.
Each insurance firm will devise a strategy for earning more
fewer claims. Thus gun owners -- informed by the actuaries --
for ourselves the controls we will tolerate, and the corresponding
premiums. (Rates will vary according to the gun we want to insure,
expertise, and claims history.)
Some will want a cheaper policy that requires trigger locks
gun is not in use; others will not. Hobbyists will find cheaper
by keeping their firearms in a safe at the range. Newer, younger
and those who choose weapons that cause more claims will pay
premiums. That way, other owners, with more training and claims-free
history, will pay less. (Insurance companies are expert at evaluating
combined risks and dividing them up-in the form of premiums-with
Soon, the firms will emphasize cutting claims. That means
safety and fighting black market gun dealers, which is where
get guns. And every legitimate gun owner will have a persuasive
lower premiums -- to help in the fight.
We need to start discussing this now, because it will take several
to enact. Gun-control advocates will hate this because it forsakes
failed prohibitionist approach. But the evidence is clear: there
virtually no chance that prohibiting guns can work without destroying
civil liberties, and probably not even then.
And the organized gun lobby will hate it too, because most
of their power
comes from having the threat of gun prohibition to point to.
But again the
evidence is clear: we have the current gun laws -- ineffective
as they are
-- because we have neglected a right even more important to Americans
the right to bear arms: the right to be safely unarmed.
Naturally, many gun owners will resent paying premiums, because
resent assuming responsibility for risks that, so far, we've
everyone else. So be it. It is only by assuming our responsibilities
we preserve our rights. Some will note that the Second Amendment
include "well-insured." But, just as the press needs
libel suits to exercise the First Amendment, we must assume responsibility
for the risks that firearms present to society.
The problem is real, even such prohibitionist strategies are
doomed to fail,
even if passed. Sadly, some pro-gun groups have already revved
up their own
mindless propaganda, blaming Springfield on liberals, TV, Dr.
Spock, "bad seeds,"
you name it -- anything but the easy access to guns that made
like Springfield so quick, so easy, and so likely.
This won't work instantly -- but it will work, because it
deadlock about guns and how to keep them away from people who
have them, without stomping on the rights of the rest of us.
changes the dynamics of this issue and ends the lethal deadlock
It's time for everyone, people seeking safety from guns and
gun owners alike, to work together to fight firearms in the wrong
and it's time to fight with FIRE: Firearm Insurance, Required
Gear is a Vancouver business consultant who specializes in
approaches to solving problems.