Since the tragedy of Sandy Hook, lawmakers around the country have been trying to figure out what to do about the 2005 law that provides the gun industry with immunity for gun violence, for which the powerful NRA and gun manufacturers lobbied heavily. (See our post here.) There are efforts in Congress to repeal the law.
And some lawmakers in Colorado are trying to boost this effort by proposing a state law to hold the industry liable, knowing there may be a conflict but “hop[ing] to help spur an effort to repeal it.”
So what else can be done?
Turns out that 25 years ago, Nelson Lund, the Patrick Henry Professor of Constitutional Law and the Second Amendment at George Mason University School of Law (the only Chair in America endowed by the National Rifle Association) proposed a free market idea that would have made Adam Smith very proud - liability insurance for gun owners.
"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.
Quoting a January 2013 article in the Hartford-Courant, this George Mason University Law School blog post noted:
"Insurance companies 'have the ability to collect the data and they have the analytical approach to understand the risk … 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.'…
"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 [said]. '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."
And according to a February 6, 2013 Reuters article,
California on Tuesday became at least the fourth state to have a liability insurance bill introduced, following Massachusetts, Maryland and Connecticut.
No state has a gun liability insurance law. Since 2003, almost two dozen such bills have been rejected nationwide, 15 of them in New York, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.…
A Maryland proposal would mandate that anyone possessing a firearm have liability insurance of at least $250,000. It requires anyone selling, renting out or transferring a gun to verify that the person getting it has liability insurance.
Not surprisingly, the “endowers” of the Patrick Henry Professor of Constitutional Law and the Second Amendment Chair, think this infringes on their constitutional rights. NRA spokeswoman Stephanie Samford said the organization opposed liability insurance for gun owners because it was "economically discriminatory."
"You don't have to carry insurance to exercise any other constitutional right," Samford said.
Maybe they should consult their own Constitutional Law and Second Amendment law professor on that.