By Betsy Biesenbach
On Jan. 19, this newspaper ran an Associated Press story, “Bill would require gun insurance.” It described proposed legislation filed in Massachusetts that would make gun owners purchase liability insurance in case a firearm they owned caused an injury. Supporters say it would give the injured parties a legal recourse and would create financial incentives that would reduce accidents and fatalities, just as car insurance does.
State gun control activists have called it a creative way of dealing with gun violence. Many would-be gun owners might be priced out of the market by high premiums, and the policies would require gun owners to keep their weapons locked up.
According to the article, while government agencies can’t enter your home to check that your guns are stored safely, your insurance company can. Of course, gun-rights supporters would consider this an unfair intrusion and an infringement of their right to bear arms. For those of us who want more controls on firearms, this type of insurance could be a godsend.
While this kind of bill might pass in a liberal state such as Massachusetts, it probably wouldn’t have a chance in most of the rest of the country. Pro-business and pro-gun legislators — just as much in the pockets of the insurance industry as they are in the National Rifle Association’s — would be forced to make a choice between the two.
But who needs a law? According to Katha Treanor, senior information resources specialist for Virginia’s State Corporation Commission, “most insurance products in Virginia are not required by law but are products the insurance industry sees as providing a marketable value to consumers.” No doubt they would not hesitate to enter what would be a large and lucrative market, if they could.
Biesenbach, of Roanoke, is a freelance writer, title examiner and author
of “Bits O’ Betsy Biesenbach.”