Gun Laws & Legislation

Democrats propose $10,000 fine for gun owners who don’t have insurance

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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A contingent of liberal Democrats in Congress is proposing a new federal gun control idea: mandatory liability insurance for gun owners.

When New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney introduced the legislation last month with eight other Democrats, she boasted that it is “the first bill to require liability insurance of gun buyers nationwide.”

Maloney’s “Firearm Risk Protection Act” requires gun buyers to have “a qualified liability insurance policy” before they are able to legally purchase a firearm.

It also calls for the federal government to impose a fine as much as $10,000 if a gun owner doesn’t have insurance on a firearm purchased after the bill goes into effect.

“It shall be unlawful for a person who owns a firearm purchased on or after the effective date of this subsection not to be covered by a qualified liability insurance policy,” the bill text reads.

The bill would also make it a federal crime to sell a firearm to anyone without insurance.

“For too long, gun victims and society at large have borne the brunt of the costs of gun violence,” Maloney said as she introduced the legislation. “My bill would change that by shifting some of that cost back onto those who own the weapons.”

Chris Cox, the executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, told The Daily Caller that the bill is “ridiculous on its face, as it presumes law-abiding gun owners are guilty for merely exercising a fundamental, constitutional right.”

“But it does reveal what Rep. Maloney really thinks about honest people who believe in the right to keep and bear arms,” Cox said.

The bill defines “qualified liability insurance” as a policy that covers the “purchaser specifically for losses resulting from use of the firearm while it is owned by the purchaser.” Buyers would have to obtain insurance from a company licensed or authorized by a state insurance regulatory authority.

Exceptions would be made for law enforcement, military and employees of government departments and agencies.

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, President Barack Obama and top Democrats have been pushing to pass a gun control measure through Congress. A federal liability insurance mandate for gun owners, while debated in some states, is not a proposal that has been seriously considered on the Hill yet.

Others who have signed on as co-sponsors of the legislation include: Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Massachusetts Rep. Michael Capuano, Virginia Rep. Jim Moran, Illinois Rep. Bobby Rush, Massachusetts Rep. Nikki Tsongas, Massachusetts Rep. Stephen Lynch and Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer.

With many states requiring drivers to carry auto insurance, Maloney argues that, “We have a long history of requiring insurance for high-risk products — and no one disputes that guns are dangerous.”

“While many individual states are debating this issue now, it makes more sense for Congress to establish a national requirement to allow the insurance markets to begin to price the risks involved consistently nationwide,” she said.

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