News and Features: Online exclusives
Menino, Warren back gun liability insurance
Favor charging high-risk gun owners more for coverage
January 18, 2013
SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN AND BOSTON MAYOR THOMAS MENINO say they support Beacon Hill legislation that would require gun owners to buy liability insurance for their weapons.
Rep. David Linksy, the Natick Democrat, has filed gun control legislation that includes a provision mandating that anyone who owns a firearm, rifle, or shotgun provide proof of liability insurance. The bill also proposes that gun owners take live shooting class to improve knowledge of gun safety measures, store large capacity magazines and grandfathered assault weapons at gun clubs or target ranges, and pay a 25 percent sales tax on ammunition and guns that would go into a fund for firearms licensing, police training, and mental health services.
“What Rep. Linksy is trying to do is put some teeth on this issue,” said Menino. “There’s more warnings on a cup of coffee about being dangerous than if you buy a gun.”
Warren said Linsky’s proposal deserves closer scrutiny. “It’s time that we think about alternative ways [that we can] deal with gun violence” she said. “We need to try different approaches to protect our children.”
Linsky has compared the liability provision to the requirement that drivers must obtain auto insurance before being able to register their vehicles. The theory is that insurers would assess the risk associated with each gun owner and charge them accordingly. Just as automobile insurers require higher-risk teenage drivers to pay more for coverage, higher-risk gun owners would also pay more, while safety-conscious gun owners, those who take classes and store their weapons safely, would pay less.
The Bay State has some of the strongest gun laws in the country, but the drive for mandatory liability insurance and other measures has gained ground in the wake of the killings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Linsky recently held a forum at the State House that attracted more than 150 lawmakers and others to look at ways to control guns and reduce violence in Massachusetts.
“Rep. Linsky has a very creative idea that hasn’t been thought of in the past,” said Menino of the liability insurance provision. “We can take a very serious look at it.”
Menino is the co-chairman, with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, of the national coalition Mayors Against Illegal Guns.