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The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground. —THOMAS JEFFERSON, 1788

A modest proposal for ending gun violence: Make gun owners buy liability insurance

Philip Ting

“If you can’t force people to do what you want, force them to buy insurance,” writes James Taranto in his Best of the Web Today column on Thursday. “That seems to be the strategy of the liberal left in the Obama era.”

Taranto’s reference is not to Obamacare but to newly proposed legislation in California that would require gun owners to buy liability insurance to cover damages or injuries that might ensue from the use of their weapon.

San Francisco Assemblyman Philip Ting, a co-sponsor of the bill, is quoted by FOX News as saying:

I was moved, like many others, being the father of two young children, by the Sandy Hook incident and looking for constructive ways to manage gun violence here in California as well as the rest of the country. There’s basically a cost that is born by the taxpayers when accidents occur … I don’t think that taxpayers should be footing those bills.

Ting equates the idea to the requirement that vehicle owners buy auto insurance. FOX notes that similar bills have been introduced in other states, including Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New York, adding that Massachusetts and New York have been attempted — unsuccessfully — too force through legislation of this sort since at least 2003.

So what could be bad? Well, for starters analogizing the requirement with the auto insurance requirement is flawed. As Taranto points out:

States require auto insurance as a precondition not of ownership but of driving on public roads. Guns, by contrast, typically are kept in the home, and liability for accidents there is covered by homeowners insurance.

“It would also be constitutionally suspect,” he adds, “for the government to condition the exercise of one’s rights under the Second Amendment on the purchase of insurance.” Then again, the Supreme Court decided last year that the right to draw breath on planet Earth can be constrained by a tax levied by the federal government.

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Howard Portnoy has written for HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, and The George Espenlaub Show.

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