Just one year after the District of Columbia passed a law making it slightly less expensive to register a handgun, the liberal city council is trying again to discourage gun ownership by making it prohibitively expensive.
On Thursday, the D.C. Council will hold a hearing on a bill proposed by Mary M. Cheh to require gun owners to buy liability insurance. The legislation, introduced in March, would force potential gun owners to get a policy of at least $250,000 before the city would consider their applications to register a firearm.
If this bill passes the full council, D.C. will be the first jurisdiction in the country to require gun owners to carry insurance.
“Conjuring new gun control schemes and further taxing law-abiding residents exercising a constitutional right will not result in a reduction of violent crime in the District. Ensuring that criminals are arrested, prosecuted and punished will,” said the National Rifle Association’s spokesman Andrew Arulanandam. “Regrettably, D.C. leaders are focused more on pushing their political and social agendas than on working to keep their residents safe.”
The insurance has to “specifically cover any damages resulting from negligent acts, or willful acts that are not undertaken in self-defense, involving the use of the insured firearm while it is owned by the policyholder.”
Mrs. Cheh does not seem to care that this kind of insurance doesn’t even exist.
Willem O. Rijksen, The vice president of public affairs for the American Insurance Association told me that, “We oppose proposals that would mandate gun liability insurance as property-casualty insurance does not and cannot cover intentional criminal behavior.”
Accidents are already covered under homeowners’ insurance policies.
The association’s vice president for state government affairs will testify against the bill during the hearing Thursday.
The kicker of this scheme is that the gun owner would be assumed liable under the law for a lost or stolen gun unless it was reported to the police. So a bad guy can break into my home, take my gun, shoot a bunch of people before I get home — and I’m financially liable.
If the gun owner lets the policy lapse, the right to keep arms — i.e. the registration — will be immediately revoked by the city. For those of us who already own guns in D.C., we would have 30 days to get the insurance after the bill is signed into law.
Even Mayor Vincent Gray and Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier think this is a bad idea.
“The administration is committed to the Second Amendment rights of our residents and protecting the safety of everyone in the District,” Kelly O’Meara, who is the executive director of strategic change for the Metropolitan Police Department, emailed me. “However, we are not convinced that there is currently a persuasive argument to support the need for insurance for firearms in the home.”
A year ago this month, the mayor signed a bill that came about largely from my series on all the ridiculous requirements for being allowed to register a gun to keep at home. City politicians wisely realized that pending lawsuits were only strengthened by their obstinance against allowing residents to easily exercise their Second Amendment rights.
Even if the District found an insurance carrier willing to create this kind of policy, it will likely be prohibitively expensive for most residents.
Does any other amendment in the Bill of Rights come with a mandatory payment? Of course not. This bill is clearly a violation of the U.S. Constitution and the city council would be wise to stop it before the city is hauled back into court.