Should Gun Owners Have To Buy Liability Insurance?

Gun control proponents have long advocated for laws requiring gun owners to purchase liability insurance for their legally owned firearms, similar to what automobile owners must have.

Now legal scholars and economists are saying a proposal floated in Illinois' Legislature in 2009 to require gun-owner liability insurance could limit access to weapons to those who shouldn't have access to weapons.

"Who pays the least for gun insurance would be least likely to commit a crime with it," reasons Forbes' columnist John Wasik on Dec. 17. "An 80-year-old married woman in Fort Lauderdale would get a great rate. A 20-year-old in inner-city Chicago wouldn't be able to afford it. A 32-year-old man with a record of drunk driving and domestic violence would have a similar problem."

But Stephen Halbrook, a research fellow at the free-market Independent Institute, told the Washington Times on Jan. 2 that the gun-insurance idea is "quacky." Should journalists, in order to exercise the First Amendment's free-press guarantees, be required to purchase insurance for potential libel or defamation lawsuits? he asks.

"It's not feasible," he said. "Talk about third-party criminal acts -- no insurance company is going to insure that."