Every Wednesday night, Justin Leto appears on nationally syndicated talk show, America Now with Andy Dean. Andy and Justin discuss an array of legal topics and oftentimes debate hot button legal issues. On this week’s show, Andy and Justin discussed proposed legislation that would require gun owners to carry liability insurance.
New York lawmakers look to pass bill to require gun owners to carry liability insurance. Several members of the U.S. House of Representatives are pushing legislation that would require gun owners to carry liability insurance in the event of negligence leading to injury or death from the use of a gun. Andy, being the uber conservative supporter of the 2nd Amendment, believes that this bill is unconstitutional as an infringement on citizen’s right to bear arms. As I explain to Andy, the Constitution allows bills such as this to go through a procedure which, if passed, would deem it undoubtedly constitutional. In order to pass a bill such as this, it must originate in the House of Representatives, pass the House by majority vote, then pass the Senate and evetually receive the signature of the President. If this were to occur, a law requiring insurance on guns would be absolutely constitutional.
Andy, and many others who are resistant to any restriction on gun use or ownership, argue that this is a punitive tax which should be deemed unconstitutional. However, this argument is misplaced. The bill is not seeking to restrict gun ownership, but instead seeks to provide a level of protection to those that are injured by the negligent use of a firearm. Under such a law, pruposeful acts of violence would not be covered by insurance. Instead, negligent acts, such as a negligent discharge of a firearm or a negligent entrustment of a firearm, would be covered.
Such a law would protect those people that are innocent victims of firearms that are used in a negligent manner. Several prime examples of where such an insurance policy would be applicable would be to the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut or the murder of the District Attorney in Texas. Even though the people that fired the guns acted with malice and purpose, the people that owned or bought the guns acted negligently. In Newtown, the owner of the gun was the shooter’s mother. A strong argument can be made that she was negligent in providing access to her guns to her son, who she knew was mentally unstable. If she was insured, all of the victims’ families could pursue wrongful death lawsuits against the insurance company that provided such insurance. In Texas, the shooter was provided the gun by a woman that negligently bought the gun for a known parolee. Again, the families of the victims of this crime could pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the owner’s insurer.
This becomes even more important when someone is injured by negligent gun use. Certainly, a gunshot wound costs many thousands of dollars in medical care. Instead of the victim or their health insurance company (or even more importantly, the goverment) paying for the medical bills, the insurance carrier for the negligent gun owner would be responsible for paying for the victims’ personal injury lawsuits.
Such a law makes complete sense and would provide a recovery avenue for those that are harmed from the negligence of gun owners.