- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 7, 2013

The D.C. Council, always on the scout for a new way to pick the pockets of the people who live in Washington, now proposes to require gun owners to pay for exercising their constitutional rights. Under a proposal introduced by Mary M. Cheh, a member of the council, gun owners would be required to buy liability insurance.

This little piece of intimidation would discourage residents from enjoying the constitutional rights of citizenship.

Gun owners would have just 30 days to take out a special liability policy worth at least $250,000 — or give up their guns. Prospective gun buyers wouldn’t be allowed to register a gun without proof of insurance.

The insurance policy must specifically cover damages resulting from negligent or willful acts that are not undertaken in self-defense. An owner is presumed responsible for how a handgun is used until a loss or theft is reported to the police department. If a robber, thug or killer breaks into a house, steals a gun and shoots someone, the owner — not the robber, thug or killer — is held responsible.

Homeowner’s insurance already covers unintentional firearm accidents, but not illegal acts, as this ordinance would require. It’s not likely that insurance companies would cover negligent gun owners who shoot through doors, as the vice president recommends homeowners to do, or for the willful acts of criminals who steal guns. If no such insurance exists, then no resident of Washington would be allowed to legally own a gun. Neither Mrs. Cheh nor D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson responded to requests for explanations.

The D.C. government didn’t come up with this terrible idea on its own. While no state currently has such a mandate on the books, nine states are moving that way, including Connecticut, New York, Oregon, Colorado and Massachusetts. On Feb. 14, a Connecticut House committee voted 10 to 8 to draft a bill to mandate firearm owners maintain liability insurance.

If this bad idea becomes law, it would unfairly penalize the poor, who generally face more crime in their neighborhoods and can’t afford the costly new premium. It’s unfair to throw another obstacle in the way of the law-abiding who just want to protect their families.

Proponents liken this proposal to the requirement to buy car insurance, but that’s moonshine of a particularly modest proof. The right to keep and bear arms is enshrined in the Constitution. Besides, insurance is not a prerequisite to buy or own an automobile. It’s only needed if the car is used on public roads.

The Supreme Court in 2008 ordered the District to respect the Second Amendment and lift its total ban on guns. Under Mr. Mendelson’s guidance, the city last year took a small step forward in revising the laws to show a little respect for the intent of the Founders. Mrs. Cheh’s gambit sets the city council back two steps. Like all legislation in the District, even if it gets that far it will be subject to congressional review. Congress must give it a thumbs-down.

The Washington Times

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