I don’t see any problem statements, let alone how gun owner insurance is a benefit to anyone. In fact, all the article does is try to shoot down some strawman arguments, and it does so with vague hand waving.
How about this one?
Nope… nothing here, either. In fact, the Wired article admits the following:
A flat gun tax would be a blunt instrument: It could only reduce gun violence by raising the costs of gun ownership so high that almost no one could legally own a gun
and then in the next paragraph:
[requiring insurance] would satisfy those who want fewer guns, because truly capturing the cost of ownership would reduce demand.
Um… so is the premise that fewer guns reduce crime? Well, that’s what the article wants you to believe, based on the reports of David Hemenway, an unapologetic advocate for removing the right to own firearms at all. I’ll deal with Hemenway in another post, but let’s presume that this assertion is valid for the sake of argument: fewer guns means fewer gun crimes. In order for that to work in the real world, you need to make some assumptions.
Assumption 1: You can set a premium cost proportional to the percent reduction in gun ownership
Finding a premium value that affects gun ownership may not be all that difficult. Basing that rate on actual risks that you can validate and prove as reasonable for the market is a different story. Right away, this is artificial because you’re seeking to influence behavior with financial restrictions that are not based on actual risk, but on market response. Regardless of actuarial results, it may be that the potential dollar risk presented by an average gun owner is not a deterrent to ownership at all.
Assumption 2: The people most susceptible to influence by financial discrimination are also the most likely to commit gun crime
There are plenty of people with money and bad intent, just as there are good people with little to no money. By imposing a financial constraint, the message is that protection of rights is directly related to wealth, something which is at odds with the 14th Amendment. At any rate, this is a form of economic discrimination that presumes having low disposable income correlates with high risk of committing crime. In other words, you expect poor people to be criminals and wealthy people to be good citizens.
Assumption 3: Fewer guns actually means less crime
This one seems to make sense on its surface, but consider that the guns you remove may not be the ones used in crime. It turns out that over 80% of gun crime is committed by people who are not legally allowed to possess the gun they’re using. It would be more accurate to say “fewer crime guns means less crime”. That leads us to need two more assumptions.
Assumption 4: Law-abiding citizens will comply and voluntarily disclose ownership
Certainly, some people will tell the insurance company about every gun they’ve got. But many won’t, and there’s no way to enforce it without a registry. It turns out that the Brady Bill forbids a registry. Even requiring proof of insurance at point of sale would only be enforceable for retail transactions, since private sales are still generally legal, being specifically excluded from background checks and the like.
Assumption 5: Criminals will comply with the insurance requirement
In order to remove the guns most likely to be used in crime, you have to convince those committing the crimes with those guns to get insurance. Do I really need to explain this one?
If any one of those assumptions fails, then the entire premise of using insurance to reduce gun crime is a complete bust. People who can’t afford the insurance will either not disclose current ownership, or go buy from a private seller. To prevent that, you’d have to ensure every state both requires and can enforce private sales to go through background checks at an FFL.
Even if you got all of this in place, there’s no reasonable expectation of actual reduction in gun crimes overall. Having insurance doesn’t prevent bad behaviors, as we’ve seen with drunk driving. In fact, insurance for gun owners really only accomplishes the task of making money for insurance companies.
So there is no problem that is addressed by requiring gun owners to have insurance. It won’t reduce criminal gun use, won’t prevent gun homicides, won’t prevent illegal sales… If the proposed solution doesn’t reduce crime, what’s the point?