Kent Greene is a former regional planning commissioner, Navy Air Intelligence officer, computer systems analyst, business owner,┬áhunter, and life long gun owner. He’s lived in Pennsylvania, Virginia and is currently a resident of Parrish, Florida.

Note to Congress:

Consider Firearms Liability Insurance

March 2013

The gun control roadmap should place firearms liability on par with motor vehicles. This roadmap provides a blueprint that’s currently absent in ongoing gun control deliberations.

A driver behind the wheel carries liability insurance. A shooter holding a gun does not. Drivers and shooters equally cause 30,000 deaths annually.

Drivers cause accidental deaths. Deaths by shooters are seldom accidental. Other firearms related incidents are anything other than accidental.

Every driver pays a liable insurance premium. Every shooter pays zero. Partial premium for 30,000 annual deaths by shooters and 70,000 injuries is embedded in health and homeowner policies. The remainder is embedded in local, state, and federal taxes.

Gun control goes round in circles when owners and non-owners alike pay identical embedded liability premiums for firearms. Absent any lawful requirement to carry liability insurance on firearms, with few exceptions, virtually anyone over the age of ten can possess one or more guns.

Public embedded firearms liability is wholly different from private, self-funded firearms liability. Embedded public liability few comprehend is arguably the root source of firearms accumulation and inevitable crime. Complexity of many issues warrants a comprehensive nationwide blueprint to reduce firearms related crime.

Two-thirds of households that do not own or possess firearms annually incur $50 billion in embedded firearms liability contained in insurance and taxes. Embedded liability for two-thirds of 300 million firearms approximates $250 per firearm.

Private firearms liability costing approximating $75 billion is incurred publicly. Firearms proliferation across America is a direct result. Firearms proliferation facilitates crime.

A radical lawfully enacted compliance mechanism is needed to reverse massive societal accumulation of firearms in America. The self-funded liability solution to reduce firearms accumulation is predicated on addressing incidents attributable to a unique attribute: firearms protected by the Second Amendment are seldom destroyed (89 guns per 100 population).

The self-funded liability solution requires little guesswork. Gun owners in lawful compliance paying liability premiums would invariably protect their Second Amendment right to bear arms. Owners unwilling to pay liability premiums would remove the burden by either eliminating or refusing to acknowledge possession of firearms. Absconders are far more likely to abuse Second Amendment rights.

The self-funded liability solution removes the escape provision for grand fathered firearms in the 2013 Feinstein Bill. Lawful enactment by legislative action provides an economic incentive for gun owners to voluntarily remove tens of millions of firearms in circulation.

None of oft-cited remedies, including an assault weapons ban, comprehensive background checks, mental health constraints, and protective security measures would significantly reduce adverse firearms incidents if embedded liability remains public. Collective remedies would not significantly reduce gun incidents if private self-funded firearms liability were excluded as a solution.

Removal of the invisible cloak of embedded public liability is a giant step forward. Removal of the two-thirds $50 billion embedded gun subsidy incurred annually by non-gun owners is an achievable hurdle. The roadmap for removal is straightforward.

Housing is a critical common denominator. Every firearms owner or possessor requires housing. Housing would become a critical ally in curbing firearms accumulation and associated crime in America.

Housing is deemed real property directly subject to taxes. With few exceptions, most dwellings are insured. Every owner or possessor of firearms resides in private or public housing, owned or rented, temporary or permanent.

The self-funded liability solution enlists the homeowners insurance industry to lead the assault on crime facilitated by firearms. Lawful liability compliance by single and multi-unit dwelling policyholders ensures every owned or possessed firearm would be inventoried and insured, including guns stored outside dwellings such as businesses and vehicles.

Obtaining firearms compliance by law enforcers is a formidable task. Given deaths rates from firearms are expected to pass motor vehicles in 2014, common sense suggests possessors of firearms assume the same liability, given a 100 round assault rifle can render similar personal injuries as an accident involving a Greyhound bus.

Firearms are deemed real property indirectly subject to embedded taxes and insurance. Transferring $75 billion in public liability to private gun owners alters the American firearms landscape claiming 100,000 shooting victims annually.

A significant reduction in firearms related crime would not occur unless federal lawmakers include societal liability costs in any solution. Requiring the nation’s housing insurers to include a separate firearms rider on every liability policy accomplishes this need. Privatizing public liability tied to residential dwellings is a viable solution covering 300 million grand fathered firearms.

The $75 billion baseline premium of $250 per firearm represents societal costs for 300 million firearms. The baseline would rise or fall depending on future disbursements, including payouts to health providers and hospitals approximating $6 billion annually.

A firearms liability rider on dwellings uses a different venue than the counterpart liability insurance requirement to operate a motor vehicle. The insured dwelling owner would be responsible for assessing and collecting firearms risk premiums, including apartments and condominiums regardless of size. The law would require occupants to divulge “manufacturer and serial number” of all possessed firearms to the dwelling owner and pay variable liability premiums. Homeowner insurers would distribute payouts on behalf of firearm victims.

Compliance and enforcement would be through local municipalities. Property tax databases would be modified to accommodate variable firearms records per dwelling. Homeowner insurers would electronically update using the Property ID #. Police, fire and rescue would have electronic access to the firearms database subset. A resultant neighborhood firearms blueprint would serve a variety of purposes, particularly beneficial to law enforcers.

There is presently no national database of firearms. Federal law precludes the ATF from keeping track of guns. Inclusion of firearms as a subset of municipality property tax databases is a cost effective alternative. Firearms database tracking by municipalities has many benefits federal tracking would not provide.

Attaching the firearms liability requirement as a separate rider on dwellings policies maximizes both coverage and compliance. Few dwelling owners would knowingly misrepresent or not fully disclose firearms in possession of all occupants in lawful compliance. Few occupants would run the risk of eviction and other lawful penalties for non-compliance.

Welfare recipients, temporary or permanent, would not be exempt. Recipients would face the economic reality of choice, including a self-funded liability requirement if they elect to possess firearms. Non-exemption based on poverty has the highest likelihood for removing guns “on the streets”. Loss of benefits for welfare recipients failing to comply is a consideration for lawmakers.

Self-funded liability invariably would make our cities safer. The probable cause constraint would be eliminated. Possession of any uninsured firearm, particularly handguns, would be grounds for seizure by law enforcers. Self-defense considerations could apply in particular hardship cases.

Firearms liability premium riders would be competitively priced. Minimums would be lawfully established based on firepower. Rapid-fire, large magazine firearms would be assigned the highest rates. Homeowner insurers would competitively include firearms pricing in all dwelling insurance policy riders.

The self-funded liability solution would be revenue neutral. Firearms liability costs would collectively be offset by reductions in embedded liability insurance, particularly health policies. Responsible gun owners would comply. Insured weapons would be retained. Irresponsible gun owners would not. Uninsured firearms would be subject to confiscation and destroyed.

The self-funded liability solution provides complying gun owners with full Second Amendment rights. The enforcement mechanism would include a lawful mandate to preclude dwelling insurers from writing future policies on any single or multi-unit dwelling that fails to include a rider and fees covering all owned or possessed firearms.

The self-funded liability solution terminates the $50 billion embedded gun owner subsidy. A federal mandate for nationwide insurers to attach a revenue neutral firearms liability rider to homeowner policies is a powerful inducement to reduce the volume of firearms in circulation and associated crime.

Kent Greene can be reached at kgr27@earthlink.net. Comments about this article can be sent to info@therporters.org.

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