Sandy Hook Anniversary: Time for Insurance So Gun Owners Bear the True Cost of Gun Ownership

By Michael Olenick, a research fellow at INSEAD

Thursday December 14 marks the five-year mark since the massacre at Sandy Hook when gun fanatic Adam Lanza murdered twenty first graders, six school staff members, his mother, then himself. We’ve since watched 58 people lose their lives in Las Vegas, 49 at the Pulse nightclub, 25 at Suntherland Springs, and 14 in San Bernardino. The rivers of blood grow and flow but nothing changes.

Thanks to a modern reinterpretation of the Second Amendment in the 2008 Heller decision, there are limits to what can be done legally on gun control. Before Heller gun rights were reserved for well-regulated state militias (read: armed thugs tasked with retrieving escaped slaves). But a five-member majority of the Supreme Court, a group of activist “conservative” judges, magically found a personal right to gun ownership for the first time in over two centuries. No lobby is stronger than the NRA so traditional political options are ruled out. But there might be a solution by addressing the problem economically.

I’ve argued for ages that US gun enthusiasts cause an enormous cost that is externalized to everybody else.

It’s time for gun fans to pay their own way, to stop cost shifting the burden of their hobby onto survivors and the general public. As one gun owner indignantly wrote after a recent slaughter “Why should I pay for the cost of criminals?” My answer: “Why should I?” Why should anybody who does not buy into the notion that guns should be freely available – the root cause of the carnage – pay for those who do believe this?

Backing up, let’s briefly review the costs of gun damage. First are the immediate medical costs. If the injured is insured, then everybody in their insurance pool pays for the fun of guns. If they are uninsured, costs rise and everybody involuntarily pitches in.

Next are the costs to employers and the injured; social safety programs or disability insurance might help: more subsidies. Lowered earning power, dysfunction in the family and relationships, higher police costs and lowered property values in high crime areas: line items on the bill are endless.

Cost estimates for gun violence, including lost wages, vary wildly. Low end estimates are $45 billion per year; higher end estimates are $229 billion per year. Since the lower end costs do not include extra policing or pain and suffering for family members I’ll split the difference but on the low side: $100 billion per year. That means each and every one of America’s 323 million pays an average of $309.60 per year thanks to gun mania.

Gun owners talk about the “cost of freedom” – being suckered into the false narrative that gun ownership somehow equates to liberty – but they’re consistently unwilling to shoulder that cost alone.

First, it’s time to admit this “freedom and liberty” theory is delusional. Get real, gun owners: you are not going to use your guns in a government shootout. If you do, you will be seen as deranged criminals, not heroes. I have yet to find a gun owner who is willing to explicitly state that their version of “protecting liberty” is an imaginary right to violently overthrow the government. They imply it – wink, wink, nudge, nudge – but nobody will come out and say it.

And if you were to take up this battle with your precious guns,you would lose. Gunmen are guaranteed to be defeated by police who have access to more guns, helicopters, tear gas, sound cannons, tanks, flamethrowers, and other weapons.

I’ve talked about a gun and ammunition tax so gun owners pay the full freight for their fun. But gun fanatics argue against a registry. Ignoring that the vast majority of countries that allow private weapon ownership require registration we’ll take this at face value: no registries. But there’s a fine solution: mandatory insurance at the point of sale.

Every gun and every bullet will come with gun insurance, automatically bundled with the purchase.

Like workers compensation gun violence victims would automatically collect from a mega-pool funded entirely by gun insurance. No more forcing everybody’s health premiums up due to gun violence payouts: only gun owners pay. Disability and lost wage claims due to gun injuries? Paid for by people who are into guns. Unpaid medical bills for victims of gun violence due to no insurance which drive up hospital costs for everybody; the gun insurance pool pays 100%, no questions asked. More police required in areas of unusually high gun violence: let the pool pay.

None of this infringes on the right to own guns: they just have to pay the cost. Free speech does not mean free paper or free internet access. Similarly, freedom to own guns is not an entitlement to a massive economic subsidy, which is the case now.

This proposal allows guns, ammunition and sales tax to all be tied together into a tidy package. Mechanisms, including enforcement, would work just like sales tax for any other purchase. People who sell guns or ammunition without the insurance will be treated like people who sell products but do not collect sales tax. All Point of Sale (POS) systems already support the automated collection of additional funds and, even for state’s that do not have sales tax, they still use the computer systems everybody else does enabling its collection.

Gun owners who prove they have the right insurance can skip the insurance that gun sellers would be required to attach, enabling private marketplaces.

Given the nature of gun violence there would need to be a centralized pool to payout claims. This would presumably be grouped by risk category, much like auto insurance. If the gun or bullet type that caused the injury is known it would be a claim against that class of weapons. AR-15/Bushmaster style rifles would carry one cost, depending on the injuries they cause, whereas bespoke hunting rifles could carry a different, presumably lower cost. Let the weapon manufacturers and insurance companies work out the various risk categories: they understand their products best.

The hypocrisy from libertarians who argue against public subsidies for everything besides gun subsidies is staggering. Either you are a libertarian who is against subsides, and believe you should carry the cost of an unfettered right to own weapons, or you are not.

Nobody argues against mandatory auto insurance and the gun fanatics do not hesitate to highlight, correctly, that automobiles cause more annual deaths than guns. They fail to note that automobiles have exponentially more utility value and are highly regulated, requiring licensure, insurance, and strict compliance with safety rules. They also ignore that gun deaths were projected to exceed deaths by car in 2016, and probably will in the not-too-distant future.

The graves of the Sandy Hook victims are presumably well manicured; the school was razed to the ground and a new building unveiled in July 2016. But the memories for the survivors that were there, and everybody else, can and should never be erased. We can’t take the guns but we can at least make sure the bullets do not come with a bill for victims of gun violence.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Kathleen Smith

    We should be focusing on metal illness — this sick kid could have made a pipe bomb and killed many. It is like blaming bitcoin for money laundering the two do not go together. Of course there should be safe guards against allowing mentally ill people to have weapons — that was this kids mother — why did not anyone in the community see that there was something terribly wrong in this household, what about his father — he couldn’t tell that his son was psychotic. There were so many points of break down that to say it is all about gun ownership is wrong. Hey Lady, what is going to happen when we live in a country when the only people that have access to weapons are government and bad guys. So the law abiding citizen is left completely unarmed.

    1. Andrew Dodds

      You’d be like the UK, with a massively lower murder rate? Your chances of being shot massively reduced?

      The thing is, yes you can kill people without guns. But it’s very much harder. Bombs require significant planning and work to do any significant damage. Knives means you have to be up close and personal, and even then are less lethal. Trucks require planning as well, and even on a rampage you still have to hit people.

      Guns are unique in that they are designed to make killing as easy as possible, ideally from a distance, and make multiple killing far easier.

      It would, of course, help if mental health services were funded as well. But given that situation, if you are going to defund mental health services then having lax gun laws starts to look even crazier..

    2. Clive

      Here in the UK, I do not even know where I could buy a gun, even if I wanted one. And then, I could only buy, legally, full length shotguns or rifles — not handguns. There are also tight background checks, including for mental illness as part of a pretty well enforced licencing system. Oh, and stringent storage and transportation security requirements, even for the very specific classes of firearms you can own. So, very few guns of a very narrow category around.

      Where do I feel safest? Here in the UK. As firearms are not in general circulation, the police force is not routinely armed, so I don’t need to be that concerned about a mistake-shooting by law enforcement (these things do still happen, but only very rarely).

      Where do I feel most at risk from lethal violence? The US. Because of all those guns around with some loose trigger fingers holding onto them. If someone with a mental health condition has a psychotic episode and attacks others, they typically only have access to knives or blunt instruments. Single fatalities do occur, as do serious injuries, but very rarely do mass deaths (10+).

      And the UK is certainly not a non-violent society. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

    3. W. Aaron

      “to say it is all about gun ownership is wrong”
      I agree. It’s only mostly about gun ownership.

      I am frustrated by the way mental illness is portrayed and used in the guns-rights argument. It is used in a way that reminds me of the “No True Scotsman” fallacy: “People who use guns irresponsibly are mentally ill and therefore not a TRUE gun owner at all!” I think this stigmatizes mental illness in an abhorrent way, and makes people who need help into the bad guys responsible for making it hard for everyone else to own a killing machine, ignoring potential personality disorders that may lead to a fetishization of guns. I absolutely do believe that thinking engineered killing machines should be readily available in our society is, at a minimum, a highly anti-social personality disorder. However, I am not a PsyD or anything like it.

      Most deaths and injuries from guns don’t come from mass shootings. Most deaths and injuries from guns don’t come from people who would be qualified as “mentally ill.” Most deaths and injuries from guns happen with properly purchased and licensed firearms, many victims members of gun owner’s own family.

      There are costs – very, very, very high costs – that we all bear in this country so that a subset can fulfill a power fantasy. Guns don’t provide effective self defense. Guns won’t dissuade our government from acting. At most, guns provide some recreation and mild utility in limited circumstances. Great. Let’s make those uses carry a cost that is commensurate with what the rest of us pay every day for this absurdity.

      1. RUKidding

        You also make very good points about the whole trope of mental illness and gun violence. I quite agree.

        1. jrs

          Those with diagnosed mental illness actually seem to have lower violence rates than the general population but they are often victims of violence. It’s mostly just flawed reasoning: 1) it assumes that those who commit violence must by definition be mentally ill 2) then it leaps to stigmatizing all mentally ill based on people who were only diagnosed as “mentally ill” based on the fact they committed violence.

      2. Rayner86

        “Guns don’t provide effective self defense”. Stated as fact, but would submit it is a subjective assessment predicated on a wide set of assumptions. Can you provide support for this assertion?

        1. W. Aaron

          This is a tough problem to study in depth because of the limited funding that has been available for gun study as well as the shameful lack of data collected by government agencies. (If we don’t look then we don’t have to worry about it!) Confounding this is a common assumption that guns can “dissuade” a crime from taking place and, supposedly, these situations aren’t counted for in studies. However, that’s not entirely correct, and studies using sound statistical extrapolation are able to measure this along with other firearm-related metrics.
          Luckily there are places doing the hard work and more and more data is coming to light, including large-scale, random polls that specifically ask about the use of guns in self defense. I’ll send you to a brief but comprehensive resource that has a lot of jumping off points if you want to investigate further.

          1. Rayner86

            There are also a number of studies that
            “…found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims
            compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies.”

            While these studies are not necessarily conclusive, neither is the study you cited.

            The issue is rather well laid out in the Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence by the Committee on Priorities for a Public Health Research Agenda to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence

            There is definitely room for more studies on the topic.

            As a footnote, I would note that the US Military, like many other militaries, issues firearms to their members with the assumption that they “provide effective self defense”. Whether or not it applies is one thing, but it shapes perception.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              As I have said repeatedly:

              1. Police studies have found that a gun is not effective for self defense if the assailant is within 21 feet. He can get to a cop faster than the cop can aim and fire. And this is with people trained to use guns.

              2. I took a “self defense” course from the guy who developed the hand to hand combat program for the Navy Seals. He has continued to refine his techniques since he left the Seals. His philosophy is not defensive: you have to hurt the other guy first, as in “inflict sufficient trauma” so as to shut down his central nervous system. The course assumes you are smaller, slower, weaker than your opponent.

              We did a lot of sparring with different weapons. Bludgeons are by far the best.

        2. Optic7

          Someone posted a link to this study somewhere (maybe here) not long ago and I bookmarked it:

          “For every time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or legally justifiable shooting, there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides.”

          1. MWoodward

            The study only includes shots fired instances. It does not include instances of successful defense by displaying a firearm. Conclusions at large can not be drawn by the very nature of the limited base case scenario. Additionally, one study does not prove a hypothesis. Needs to be replicated.

    4. RUKidding

      Somehow when anything associated with gun violence and massive death tolls come up, the now usual trope about mental illness gets trotted out. By and large, the same people who talk the talk about the need to “do something” about mental illness are totally opposed to any sort of comprehensive, truly affordable health care system in this country, which would cover assistance with mental illness.

      So I’m a bit cynical about all the concern over mental illness. That trope is trotted out after nealy every gun massacre, and yet, to date, absolutely no real solutions have been offered, much less enacted, to deal/handle/cope with mental illnesses that may lead to gun violence.

      And by the way, the shooter in Las Vegas didn’t really exhibit any telling signs of mental illness. There you had an older guy, reasonably wealthy, with an apparently nice lifestyle and a girlfriend. And then he goes and kills 58 people at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas, while injuring many more. Where was the “tell” with this guy? Frankly, it doesn’t look like there was one.

      So we’re supposed let people build massive armories of weapons and bullets with bump stocks all in the name of “protecting” ourselves from the boogey man and the US fed government? Great idea.

      1. Code Name D

        And by the way, the shooter in Las Vegas didn’t really exhibit any telling signs of mental illness.

        You mean apart that he was a gambling addict being hosted by a casino.

        The “mental illness” mem does have a point. That is what makes it such a powerful mem, there is some truth to it.

        Tommas Frank gave an interview where he said he knew the guy. Not personally, but as a passing acquaintance. This was a man who lost his job to off-shoring, took Bill Clinton’s retraining program, only to have his new job off-shored again, and then again. He decided to go into business for himself and started buying and selling real-estate when the 2008 crash wiped him out – again. He then falls victim to the gambling casinos who convinced him he was a “high-roller”. More than likely, the room he was in was provided by the hotel, to give you an idea how lucrative it is for the casinos to string these people along. He may have thought himself a high-roller, but his gambling addiction had to of backed him into a financial corner.

        Yes, the Vaga shooter showed lots of signs of mental instability. Just not the sort of signs you are going to spot on a security camera or gun purchase form. His family and friends didn’t spot it because A) they weren’t that close, and B) they aren’t trained too. In fact, the Vegas Shooter’s mental problems are the sort that our consumer society intentionally creates, so money can be extracted from him. Until he pulled the trigger, he was the model neo-liberal citizen. If genuine mental help would have been available, who is to say he wouldn’t have jumped at the opportunity? Or for that matter, we control the corporations so that people wouldn’t be economically victimized in the first place. Stop the exportation of jobs and clamp down on the casino gambling.

        1. Arizona Slim

          What if the guy just had a job that he could keep for a while? Perhaps his mental state would have been a lot better.

          Being treated as a disposable worker isn’t good for one’s physical or emotional state.

    5. voteforno6

      Hey Lady, what is going to happen when we live in a country when the only people that have access to weapons are government and bad guys. So the law abiding citizen is left completely unarmed.

      She’s not talking about taking away your guns. She’s only talking about redirecting the societal costs of guns onto the owners themselves..

      1. dcrane

        Presumably this could make guns and ammunition a lot more expensive. Haven’t the courts agreed that poll taxes deprive the poor of the right to vote? I could imagine this avenue being used to strike this idea down.

        Guns aren’t free to begin with of course, but then again neither is a vote (registration and travel cost something, if only time).

        1. Optic7

          Good point on a possible avenue of attack against this idea. However, one would only have to look at the societal costs of everyone owning a gun vs. the societal costs of everyone voting to see which one incurs such a cost that should be assessed to the person who takes advantage of this right.

    6. jackiebass63

      How under this proposal will law abiding people be left completely unarmed? People can still purchase guns and ammo. It will be a little more expensive because the price will include a fee, a kind of insurance policy, to pay for damage that resulted for guns. Even crooks would pay when they purchase ammo.

  2. Ray

    That insurance will come in handy in Chicago, Baltimore, etc. Capitals of gun violence in the inner cities. Way to compensate thousands of inner city victims and their families.

      1. jgordon

        I am thrilled to see articles like this and do hope that it’s the mainstream consensus of the left (though my feeling is that it’s pretty loony/fringe). Ever since Trump got into office gun sales have been plummeting and firearms manufactures have been losing money, and we need someone like Pelosi or Schumer to float this boneheaded idea to the wider public soon so we can get sales and lobbying power up again.

        Regardless, I know the original post was preaching to the choir and the choir would not have noticed this, but the framing here of gun ownership and gun culture was incredible insulting and wrong-headed. Anyone from the right who actually took the time to read the post would be outraged and looking for ways to get even more legislation passed that supports gun ownership and meanwhile the tepid supporters of gun control on the left will remain as moribund and ineffective as they’ve always been. I don’t think you’re really helping your cause here, but if it floats your boat go for it I guess.

      2. jackiebass63

        Read the entire article before commenting. Ammo would also be taxed. Illegal purchases would still indirectly pay. When the guns is initially bought by someone it is taxed. I guess the only one to escape the tax would be someone that robbed an arms store. Even in this case the retailer would have paid the tax as part of his purchase price which he passes along to the buyer. At any rate robbing an arms dealer is quite rare and the robber is , where I live, usually caught.

        1. Rayner86

          I read the entire article, no need to be self-righteous.

          My comment was primarily directed at the gun-insurance reference in the article, not so much the tax aspect, as the outlays to pay the benefits Ray highlighted would likely require more than could be raised by taxes alone.

  3. cocomaan

    As Kathleen says, we need people to be able to access mental health easily and without taxes on time. Try booking an appointment with a therapist or any specialist these days WITH good insurance, let alone without.

    People needing mental health treatment need to be able to walk into treatment centers/clinics/what have you with minimal intake. Forget the stigma. The real problem isn’t stigma, it’s class.

    The second amendment, as written, is to encourage the formation of militias. Not for hunting, not for personal defense, but for militias. I know we don’t care about the M word anymore, but that was the idea at the time. A standing army was discouraged.

    Sandy Hook was horrific, certainly, but there’s an enormous amount of gun violence happening in inner cities like Chicago and Baltimore and Philly that should probably be covered by this post. However you can’t really charge gang members insurance, because they’re not going through FFL processes. I also don’t think charging hunters premiums who use barely functional firearms to hunt for food is the answer to this problem.

    The FFL process definitely needs to be reformed. The ATF’s failure to catch that one military member with the domestic dispute record shows that the paperwork trail isn’t working. But you do go through a background check every time you buy a legal gun.

  4. freedeomny

    In most US states it is easier to buy a gun than it is to buy a gram of marijuana. How F’d up is that?

  5. Wukchumni

    Read a great book years ago by a UCLA professor that had access to a complete run of newspapers from Bodie, California in the 19th century.

    Bodie was considered one of the most lawless & violent towns in the west by reputation, the only thing though, it wasn’t. Myth took precedence.

    Gunfighters, Highwaymen, and Vigilantes: Violence on the Frontier-by Roger McGrath, is a heck of a read, here’s a review by the NYT from 1984:

    How did we get to this point, where it seems to me at times, that the guns have more rights than humans in these United States?

    Insurance @ point of sale on hand cannons is a good start, but a national tax on ammo of all types is another way to gin up funds for everybody that’s a victim of their discharge, be it the person perforated, or those that merely pay for damage they create, which is all of us.

  6. JohnDiMaggio

    Neglects to mention the fact that majority of gun deaths are guns being used in suicides. Want to take a big chunk out of gun deaths? Fix inequality, stop the deaths from despair. Would also have an effect on the homicide by guns rate as well since inequality leads to increased violence. Ending the war on drugs would be another easy fix.

    The argument also uses the worn out “guns are no match for the state’s power” theory. Iraq and Afghanistan of course being two prominent examples of this theory being false. Guns and improvised explosives more than capable of stopping a state and wearing it down. Not that I’m advocating for it just that poor arguments like this make your position weaker.

    1. PKMKII

      The argument also uses the worn out “guns are no match for the state’s power” theory. Iraq and Afghanistan of course being two prominent examples of this theory being false.

      Both situations in which there was a local military infrastructure being used by the local military, and then resistance. They weren’t buying guns at the local Wal-mart, they were getting military-level equipment from a variety of state sources. Not to mention, you’re talking about resistance to an invading state power. There was no “respect the troops!” mentality among the Iraqi and Afghan populations. This is the biggest reason why the notion of American’s gun owners overthrowing a tyrannical American government is infeasible. It’s not the logistics, it’s the culturally ingrained kneejerk response that the police and military, who would be the ones to carry out the tyranny, are blameless and good.

      1. joe defiant

        You don’t think any foreign power would offer support via money/weapons to an armed insurrection in the USA?

        1. PKMKII

          Theoretically, it could happen. Would have to be some very specific circumstances, but yes. However, at that point doesn’t it cease to be an armed insurrection, and instead become a puppet army of the foreign power? I mean, that’s straight out of the CIA playbook, and the result there universally means something other than freedom & liberty.

          1. joe defiant

            No. Gaddafi gave most of the weapons the IRA had. Was the IRA a puppet army of Libya? The USA and CIA acts this way but there are many countries and leaders who would be happy to just see the current US government have less or no power.

            Having a common goal of seeing the current USA regime fall would be good enough to elicit mass support. The current USA government causes the most death and destruction in the world. Merely removing it would improve things for the majority of the world.

            1. John M. from Ct.

              Joe, “removing” the current US government would be no country’s goal, unless it had a clear idea who the replacement government would be.
              If the replacement government was an insurrectionary force composed of those gun owners who had large supplies of weapons, no respect for democratic traditions, and a strong belief that armed force is the only way to achieve ones goals, how would that “improve things for the majority of the world?”

  7. flora

    I will agree to disagree with a couple of points. You include all gun owners in a single class, whereas I think gun owners fall into at least 3 broadly distinct classes: sporting owners – hunters and competition target/trap shooters, self-defense or offense handgun owners, and crazies.

    The Sandy Hook shooter had severe mental health issues.

    If you want to have guns insured by something like an umbrella home-owners policy or like auto insurance, that could make sense. (Assuming anything this politically hot-button can be treated rationally by politicians, or insurance companies looking to make book on public outrage.)

    However, if the sole purpose is to financially punish all gun owners for owning and using a gun, under any circumstance, then I will disagree.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Yes, that is the point. The overwhelming majority of gun murders and injuries are to close relatives of the gun owner or the owner himself, via accidents, crimes of passion, or suicide. No advanced economy has a gun death rate anything like ours. Gun deaths are soon going to surpass deaths via cars, when driving is now the most dangerous thing people do.

      I vehemently object to guns because they make me less safe. The reason I feel secure in NYC (and do in foreign cities) is I know there aren’t hotheads carrying guns who might get in altercations in my proximity.

      1. flora

        Sorry for being a bit dense, but ‘which’ is the point: umbrella type insurance, or financially punish gun owners? (or both?) Those were my 2 possible reasons listed for requiring insurance.

        1. John Zelnicker

          @flora, 12-12-17, 11:52 am – It really isn’t about “punishing” gun owners. It’s about having them pay for the personal and social costs resulting from their use of a highly dangerous object; like a car. So your idea of “umbrella” insurance is about right. However, since not everyone has homeowners or auto insurance, the most efficient way to institute widespread coverage is to require it at the point of sale in the absence of a showing of existing qualified insurance. And, like auto insurance, even with existing insurance, a new gun would need to be specifically added to the policy.

          Having some experience in property and casualty insurance, I don’t think it would be all that difficult for insurance companies to offer a “gun-owners” endorsement to existing homeowners and renters policies. Auto insurance is not a good vehicle (no pun intended) for adding gun ownership coverage as the risks are too disparate. However, it is a pretty good model for gun insurance as both insured objects are similarly dangerous, just in different ways.

      2. apberusdisvet

        Your point about safety is relevant because, most likely, you live in an up scale neighborhood with a low crime rate in a secure flat/TH/condo. But for the millions that are not so fortunate, the idea of owning a gun for self defense is quite palpable. For a pragmatist, the odds that the economy will implode in the near future are quite high; the banks will close, EBT cards will be worthless and the distribution chain will cease to function. Perhaps for days, weeks or months. I and all of my family own guns, principally to protect against those that in a time of such crisis, would form marauding hordes to relieve us of our food water possessions or life. Call it an insurance policy.

        1. Optic7

          Reposting the relevant part from my own comment higher up in the thread, to make the point that you may want to reconsider your evaluation of the situation:

          “For every time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or legally justifiable shooting, there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides.”

        2. Alex Morfesis

          Marauding hordes…you have been watching way too much tv…that is a hollywood boogeyman invention…has never happened anywhere in the last 500 years that was based on just economic collapse…

          politics…pogroms…jack booting police defending dictators and kings…yes…

          but humans don’t actually attack humans the way hollywood portrays because they are hungry or desperate…

          Junkies even, for the most part, are not zombie doers of evil as usually portrayed…

          most soldiers have a hard time shooting someone dead…

          properly trained people know how to shoot to disable…

          And shooting a gun at a standing target that is not moving is different than learning to shoot at a moving object or one that is in close range with a weapon close enough to injure or kill you…

          your local smoke and mirrors shooting range takes your money knowing your shooting practice at a stationary object at a distance is something you will never use…

          Unless you decide to become a deranged serial killer…

        3. Yves Smith Post author

          Nonsense. In Australia, I lived within blocks of Kings’ Cross, its most notorious sex and drug district. I saw the cops beat up a druggie once and regularly walked past hookers to get to the train station. I interceded in a domestic violence situation and kept a girl from being beaten up, which I never would have dared do in NYC where the guy might have had a gun.

          And I lived in NYC right after the fiscal crisis, when crime rates were high. I had my wallet stolen at least a dozen times, had a girlfriend who had a guy force his way into his apartment behind her as she was opening the door (guns would have been of no use there) and other friend who had their apartments broken into. Don’t depict me as being sheltered. I stand by my contention. I feel way safer in NYC than in Dallas.

        4. Michael O

          In this dystopia, maurading hoards would be the least of your problems unless you live on a large farm and are an expert in sustainable agriculture. In the unlikely event it came to pass the hoards would also be armed and, by definition, there would be more of them. The paranoid fantasies aren’t helpful in setting public policy.

      3. Rayner86

        Most of the gun related deaths, about 2/3rds, are due to suicide. If the firearm was not readily available, would they commit suicide? Is it a suicide problem or a firearm problem? Over 40,000 people commit suicide in the US every year (just over half with a firearm) which already exceeds automobile related deaths.

        Accidental deaths represent a small amount, less than 700 a year or 2% of the gun related deaths. Given over 115,000 die every year due to unintentional deaths (35,000 due to automobile accidents), it does not seem to be the most pressing problem to solve.

        The 11,000 people who die annually in gun related homicides are the real problem, but how many are committed with legally acquired firearms? How much of this issue is a function of socio-economic problems of which the violence is the symptom rather than the problem?

        It seems this is a complex issue that needs to be looked at in more depth rather than try to apply One-over-the-world legislative and regulatory solutions. Spend more time defining the problem and then address the real issues rather than engage in superficial solutions that make people feel good.

      4. joe defiant

        I guess you stay in rich white areas in NYC. There is a high percentage of gun ownership in poor areas in NYC.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Go to hell. Read my comment above. And provide evidence to support your claim re guns in poor areas. All the info I found on NYC contradicts your assertion. Gun possession, even allowing for criminal activity, is estimated to be in NYC to be a fraction of the US average.

            1. Wukchumni

              In an otherwise rational discussion, he appears to have brought a knife to a gun fight, metaphorically speaking.

    2. TimH

      I know a fair number of people who own a handgun just for range shooting. It’s much more difficult to short a handgun accurately at, say, 10 yards/metres than action films imply. So the learning process is fun, and fairly cheap if you stick to .22LR cartridges and target pistols.

      There’s another scary gun owner class, which is those who keep ready-to-fire firearms in the house where kids can access them. I say ready to fire, because you can keep a loaded semi-auto pistol that is not ready-to-fire, i.e. no cartridge chambered. Racking the slide to chamber a cartridge requires a fair amount of strength (and knowledge), so is a small deterrent as well as a small safety step. But keeping a loaded firearm which kids can access is illegal regardless.

      Another note: films don’t help by generally portraying gunshot wounds so inaccurately, i.e. inoffensively. An HE shell doesn’t explode like gasoline either…

      1. Wukchumni

        How come in Hollywood, every car that ever leaves the roadbed has to explode?

        And another thing, why does nobody ever grieve in films over victims of gun violence, it’s always onto the next scene?

    3. Michael O

      There needs to be one meta-pool for gun violence that can’t be tied to a gun/ammo class but I advocate grouping them by type: that’s towards the end of the essay.

      It’s not a punishment anymore than the current system punishes people, who pay the cost of guns, even if they don’t own them or advocate a lack of gun control. It’s ending the steep financial subsidies from non gun owners to gun owners, not penalizing gun owners.

  8. and Alexander wept

    I love this idea, capturing the insurance at the point of sale is an excellent idea that ensures compliance (except for the 70% lowers that people buy). I was almost reflexively against this because I was concerned that people who used guns illegally wouldn’t be the people to go and buy insurance but people who use guns illegally do go get ammo that was sold through legal channels.

    I wonder if we could extend this to immigration? It’s plain to see that immigrants cost America money, if there were some sort of bond that immigrants had to put up before they came here, we could ensure that they have an incentive to be a good member of the community. The illegal immigration question is thorny – we can’t expect them to obey the law at all, but I think the solution comes in the form of ‘debtors prison’ – if illegals don’t carry a bond, we should put them in debtors prison until their family can come up with the money to make America whole. If the family can’t raise the money, we can get a fair amount of work out of the immigrant (enough to cover the costs of them living here and the cost of their deportation) and get them to leave. It’s a win-win because many of the immigrants come here to work, and we can certainly make that happen!

  9. Jim Haygood

    I have yet to find a gun owner who is willing to explicitly state that their version of “protecting liberty” is an imaginary right to violently overthrow the government.

    Fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence quite explicitly declared their intent to violently (if necessary) overthrow the lawful government of the time — and proceeded to do so.

    Like most states born in violence, the counterrevolutionary regime which quickly succeeded to power still gives lip service to the violent revolutionaries (terrorists, in today’s parlance) who founded it.

    This is so despite the fact that the seamless oppression of our current martial law regime (USA Patriot Act; Oct 26, 2001) makes King George — so bitterly complained of in the hand-scribbled parchment manifesto of July 4, 1776 — look like a paragon of enlightened laissez-faire benevolence.

    1. MtnLife

      Exactly. Followed by every form of gun control since has racist and/or classist origins, just like this one. Their solution – make everything more expensive! Can’t have the poor having any of this, can we? Even if we take guns away from all the normal people the rich will still have their armed private security. Sounds similar to machine guns. Pre-1986 machine guns are totally legal – that’s if you have at least $10,000 (bare minimum) laying around for that sort of thing. Don’t forget the NRA was very strongly for gun control when it was the Black Panthers exercising their 2nd Amendment rights. That whole 3/5s of a person line was, in part, about denying gun rights among others. Runaway slaves who got hold of guns did a much better job of escaping. Rosa Parks sat on her porch with a shotgun in case the Klan came. MLK applied for his concealed carry permit.
      I find it amusing that the author lays the blame for inner city gun violence on guns. Definitely wasn’t the decades of systemic racism, poverty, lack of opportunity, school to prison pipelines, and the CIA dumping tons of drugs into those neighborhoods – all of which perpetrated by both sides of our faux duopoly. Nah, definitely wasn’t that. I mean, Vermont, with no permit needed to carry, awash in guns, and a serious heroin problem looks like Afghanistan, right?
      I’m quite often in areas where response time would be an hour or more (if they even decide to come at all while they are busy arguing whose jurisdiction it isn’t) and am under no illusion that my security is not my own. I hope I never use my weapon the same way I hope I never have to use the torniquete that’s in my Med kit. If I have to use either something is seriously wrong. I also hope to never need either and not have it. I would just rather be prepared. If a lethal defensive situation happens you are likely to have regrets no matter what. I’m just proactively choosing which regret to have and how long I might have to live with it.

  10. Enrique

    Whenever someone trots out the tried and true “YOUR choices are costing ALL OF US amount of money X”, my “incoming nanny state/authoritarianism warning Klaxon” goes off at full tilt.

    YOUR lifestyle choices as to wanting BIRTH CONTROL paid for shouldn’t cost ME money.
    YOUR choice to drink a soda is costing ME money.
    YOUR refusal to ride a bike to work (in 105 degree weather and 100% humidity) is killing our planet (and hence costing ME money)
    YOUR choice to get a liberal arts degree at a student loan balance of $250K will cost ME money if you expect relief.

    And on, and on, and on.

    Let states ban gun ownership if they want. Let states ban abortion if they want. The constitution is a joke and means nowt other than what some political hack wants it to mean anyway. Let people make their own rules on as local a level as practicable and not have to worry about one rule being jammed onto them from afar.

    Finally, is this argument really 95% let’s jam it to the gun hillbillies (whom we don’t like)/5% concern trolling about “societal costs?” I think it is. Almost all of the examples cited above would analogise quite nicely into that framework. And making it is to indulge in intellectual dishonesty of a despicable degree.

      1. Optic7

        Exactly! Moreover, it is much, much, much cheaper than subsidizing kids of parents who can’t afford birth control until they can make their own income.

    1. joe defiant

      Agree 10000% percent. This is middle class privilege doctrine. The things they don’t like “cost society money”. Your fancy clothes, television sets, vehicles, plastic consumerist crap, financial markets and manufacturing all cost society far more than “money”.

      Car insurance DOES NOT pay for the cost to society of you driving. Your roads, gasoline, oil, tires, cause way more destruction that no insurance is required.

      This is coastal elite doctrine that makes a list of things that “intelligent” people don’t do/use and make it illegal. The problem with this one which is different from soda bans and other nanny state nonsense is this one takes away all our rights to protect ourselves from a government which has proven it has no problem killling millions of civilians to achieve its goals. Should Afghans, Palestianians, Iraqis also need gun insurance too? How about rock insurance?

      Everyone who wants one will just keep it illegally without insurance anyway. Not being able to afford car insurance doesn’t stop anyone from driving…

      1. Wukchumni

        “1000 percent” or “1000%” in a literal sense means to multiply by 10. This article deals with its use in American English as a metaphor meaning very high emphasis, or enthusiastic support. It was used in the 1972 U.S. presidential election by presidential candidate George McGovern who endorsed his running mate, Thomas Eagleton , “1000 percent” following a scandal, then soon after dropped him. Communication experts Judith Trent and Jimmy Trent agree with journalist Theodore H. White who called it, “possibly the most damaging single faux pas ever made by a presidential candidate.” (Wiki)

      2. freedeomny

        “Car insurance DOES NOT pay for the cost to society of you driving. Your roads, gasoline, oil, tires, cause way more destruction that no insurance is required. ”

        What does this mean? Car insurance pays if there is an accident…who says it pays society for the cost driving? Oh, and if you live in the US, they are YOUR roads as well.

        “Not being able to afford car insurance doesn’t stop anyone from driving…”

        What state do you live in? In NY your insurance company notifies the DMV the MINUTE your insurance lapses…and you will be pulled over very quickly. So yes, not having car insurance does stop people from driving.

        1. joe defiant

          You are completely ignorant of how the lower classes live if you believe car insurance lapsing stops anyone from driving. If I purchase a vehicle from my neighbor for $500 dollars who is notified? Do you really believe the police have some magic radar and are notified when an uninsured driver is driving? Whether I have insurance or not if I am pulled over I am fucked. Most of our licenses are suspended due to mandatory suspensions for victimless crimes as well. Whether they pull me over for the phantom brake light out if I had all legit paperwork or a suspended license matters little.

  11. voteforno6

    I’ve talked about a gun and ammunition tax so gun owners pay the full freight for their fun. But gun fanatics argue against a registry. Ignoring that the vast majority of countries that allow private weapon ownership require registration we’ll take this at face value: no registries. But there’s a fine solution: mandatory insurance at the point of sale.

    A government gun registry might be a political non-starter, but you can bet that if we mandated insurance for gun-owners, the insurance companies would force owners to register their weapons with them. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if insurance companies forced a lot of other measures on gun owners. So, this is definitely an idea worth exploring.

  12. Saylor

    As a gun owner, I would readily agree with the additional charge up front for both weapons (which bad guys don’t buy legally, but somewhere along the way that additional charge would have been paid) and for the ammo (which even bad guys have to buy). There is a drastic need for a fund pool with which to provide for victims. I also believe that the restriction of mag capacity is valid. This even though I had a high capacity mag that I had to destroy because it became illegal after I purchased it. When Gabby Gifford was gunned down, the gun man was stopped by bystanders because he had to pause to reload. We cannot wait until we have ‘the perfect fix’ before we do anything. And the NRA should be sent to the side lines for their increasing interference with their lobbying.

    1. joe defiant

      More of these politicians need to be gunned down. They have no problem giving the orders to gun down thousands elsewhere.

  13. Code Name D

    Sorry, but this just strikes me as more neoliberal thinking. The only real solution to the problem, effective gun regulation, is off the table because “its just too hard” or “the NRA won’t let us do it.” So, we get to waste our time on financial incentives instead. We will make owning guns more expensive, sorry “reflect the true cost of ownership” and this will some how solve our problem. Never stopping to think that even if we could get such a system off the ground that it wouldn’t lead to new forms of abuse.

    First, the NRA’s power is largely a manufactured illusion. Strip away the media narrative of its political power, and you will see that the NRA is just another lobby firm representing gun manufactures and carrying on the task of buying our politicians. Republicans end up being the NRA flag barriers while Democrats do the “practical” thing of admitting defeat while accepting as much NRA money as they can get their hands on. While the NRA offers a lot more theater than most, at the end of the day, the NRA is no different than the pharmaceutical or the oil lobby.

    Second, as dose any neoliberal idea, this approach ends up blaming and punishing the victims. Your typical “gun nut” is just some one who has fallen victim to pro-gun dogma. Not unlike religious extremists who dance with snakes, or pray over their children as they die of easily treatable conditions. They have been programed to be dependent on their guns. So, they spend tens of thousands building and maintaining their armories for the coming government crack-down, apocalypse, Armageddon, the collapse of the dollar, or what ever imagined impending catastrophe their minds can conjure. They are already bearing huge financial costs as it is. That’s actually the point, get them to lay down thousands for hardware that’s going to sit and collect dust in their basement. So, forcing them to pay additional insurance is just adding on another cost that they will pay – because they have to pay. But you end up giving them just another reason to be mad at “da gofmint.”

    You don’t treat gambling addictions by making it more expensive to gamble, you treat it by first disabling the destructive behavior (don’t let them gamble any more) while at the same time showing support as they deal with a the very real psychological trauma of no longer gambling. A similar approach is needed when dealing with gun hoarders. First, cut them off from their supply of arms and ammunition. But at the same time, you need to genuinely deal with their very real vulnerability and anti-government anxieties.

    1. Saylor

      Your first paragraph underscores my point of ‘not waiting for the perfect fix’. This is to aid the victims and place the responsibility of cost on the sector that has the responsibility of liability. It is not about deterring ownership.

      Your second paragraph is incorrect by stating that the NRA’s power is ‘illusionary’. The NRA was able to have two district representatives removed from office in Colorado by financing and promoting an ‘out of district’ attack on them because they dared to suggest ‘some’ further gun control. I don’t think that is ‘illusionary’ at all.

      Your third paragraph again misses the point which is to provide the reparations from the sector that owns the liability.

      Your fourth paragraph does beg the question as to what qualifies as a ‘gun hoarder’? Three? Five? Ten?

      1. Code Name D

        Your first paragraph underscores my point of ‘not waiting for the perfect fix’. This is to aid the victims and place the responsibility of cost on the sector that has the responsibility of liability. It is not about deterring ownership.

        So, you are not advocating for a fix at all, but to normalize the status qou. We will create an elaborate insurance system (giving insurance corporations yet another monetization stream to extract wealth), then throw money at it as if that will fix any-thing. Now to fight for change, we not only have to deal with the NRA, but the gun insurance lobby as well. Gun deaths not only become normalized (if it can be argued they haven’t already) but monetized as well.

        I am not demanding a “perfect fix”, but I am demanding an effective one. One that addresses the core problem – not one that adds a financial layer.

        Your second paragraph is incorrect by stating that the NRA’s power is ‘illusionary’. The NRA was able to have two district representatives removed from office in Colorado by financing and promoting an ‘out of district’ attack on them because they dared to suggest ‘some’ further gun control. I don’t think that is ‘illusionary’ at all.

        Yep. That’s my fault. I should have said that the NRA has no more power than any other lobby firm. And yes, the lobby is a formidable political force when it comes to buying and corrupting our government. But it is still nothing more than a lobby firm. Remove the money, and its nothing more than a club of red-necks with delusions of grandeur. Alas, the money is formidable.

        What I am challenging here is the narrative that we need to surrender to the NRA because of our self-imposed illusion of NRA invincibility. The Democrats have created this narrative because they want to run on a we-feel-your-pain style “anti-NRA” platform while still taking NRA campaign donations. “We are just being practical here” is just another way of saying “sit down, shut up, and vote for us.”

        However, polling data strongly suggests that the majority is screaming for reasonable regulations. The Democrats just might be more effective if they stand up to the NRA, rather than genuflecting to them. But as long as they never try, they continue to pretend that its impossible.

        Your third paragraph again misses the point which is to provide the reparations from the sector that owns the liability.

        But who has the liability? The average gun owner? People who have no money or power? Or the industry that programs them and provides them with fire arm? I do note that there is already a shield law which protect gun manufacturers from the liability of their products.

        I am not ignoring this point, this is precisely the point I am challenging here! Assigning liability cost is a typical neo-liberal solution, that is to say that it’s a non-solution which only normalizes the problem. Guns are killing people? Let’s create an insurance system that creates payouts to the victims, problem solved.

        Your fourth paragraph does beg the question as to what qualifies as a ‘gun hoarder’? Three? Five? Ten?

        Ten? Ha! Let’s start with a hundred and work from there.

        1. Optic7

          We will create an elaborate insurance system (giving insurance corporations yet another monetization stream to extract wealth), then throw money at it as if that will fix any-thing. Now to fight for change, we not only have to deal with the NRA, but the gun insurance lobby as well. Gun deaths not only become normalized (if it can be argued they haven’t already) but monetized as well.

          This makes your point more clearly than your initial post. After seeing this clarification, I have to say that I agree with you. Your argument is the strongest one against this idea that I’ve seen so far in this thread.

  14. lyle

    Actually if you own a house your homeowners insurance covers shooting by folks living under your roof, it is a tort and can be taken to court. However many gun owners are worth nothing so no point in suing since you can’t get blood out of a turnip. However for example I would expect the Las Vegas shooters estate to be sued big time since there apparently is some blood in that turnip. (however the typical 25 k liability limit on a homeowners policy would not cover very much) . The actual issue here is battery and that can be sued for.
    However here the civil system breaks down because if there is no money no suit is brought because the lawyers can’t make any money. Another example was OJ Simpson who lost a civil court lawsuit, although it is not clear how much money came from that.

  15. Ben Around

    You have built on an edifice of assumptions that place your argument on somewhat shaky ground.

    “Before Heller gun rights were reserved for well-regulated state militias (read: armed thugs tasked with retrieving escaped slaves).” This is too limited a reading. For instance, at the moment bondage ended for many Americans, when the agreement at Appomattox Court House ended the Civil War, rebel officers were allowed to keep their sidearms. That is the complete opposite of your assumption. As the Confederate government and all its militias were dissolved at a stroke, the right of regular Americans to own firearms was affirmed (and just like Heller, pistols).

    Second, constitutional rights are not often reduced to mere economic costs. True, free speech does not mean you get free ink and paper. It also, however, does mean that the US Gov’t is not able to restrict speech with mandated costs. That is a reason why taxes are not levied on houses of worship, not because churches do not generate costs for society to bear. Or do you envision all this “insurance” to be collected without the government’s court system?

    “And if you were to take up this battle with your precious guns,you would lose. Gunmen are guaranteed to be defeated by police who have access to more guns, helicopters, tear gas, sound cannons, tanks, flamethrowers, and other weapons.” Does anybody see the holes in this argument that are roughly the size of Iraq and Afghanistan? We cannot even subdue societies one-tenth the size of our own while armed and determined populations refuse to observe US Gov’t writ. And just like over there, there are many more citizens than the USG can effectively fight. Your guarantee is premature.

    Lastly, you do not seem to know what you are talking about when it comes to weapons. Flame throwers and sound cannons? Just how many sound cannons does it take to stop even a mediocre marksman? You have no idea, but I posit more than enough to dissuade sound cannon volunteers after the first fracas. Did you know the Vietnamese were able to deny low-level airspace to US jets with only small arms fire? Your arguments would likely get stronger and more interesting if you learned even a modicum about what you are professing to regulate.

    I hold it a good thing that the government and citizenry basically agree with each other. It is not clear which is stronger than the other, and I hope I never have to find out. But it is that relationship among citizen, the state, and war that has been hastily assumed to be settled in your favor. And if you ever want to persuade gun owners, you would do much better to address this issue and not tragedies that have not persuaded a critical mass of them so far.

    1. voteforno6

      “Before Heller gun rights were reserved for well-regulated state militias (read: armed thugs tasked with retrieving escaped slaves).” This is too limited a reading. For instance, at the moment bondage ended for many Americans, when the agreement at Appomattox Court House ended the Civil War, rebel officers were allowed to keep their sidearms.

      How is that too limited a reading? A decision made about the terms of surrender at Appomattox (which didn’t quite end the Civil War, by the way) has no bearing on Constitutional interpretation. Also, your history is a little off on when that “bondage” ended – that was actually with the ratification of the 13th Amendment.

      Once again, though, this demonstrates an unwillingness to engage the main point. That is, the 2nd Amendment actually ensures the right of states to form militias. Historically, it was never interpreted to guarantee a personal right to own firearms – it just doesn’t fit logically with the whole text of the amendment. Instead, proponents of that view choose to ignore it (such as the NRA), or obscure the issue.

      1. Hiflyer

        “Once again, though, this demonstrates an unwillingness to engage the main point. That is, the 2nd Amendment actually ensures the right of states to form militias.”

        The second amendment actually reads…A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

  16. Wukchumni

    The obsession about being armed & dangerous only really took hold after 9/11, at the same time the MIC really went whole hog.

    Sooner or later, the war machine will be repudiated either of our own volition or we wont be able to afford it anymore, but there’ll still be a gun for every citizen in the land statistically.

    Will it have any bearing on us, or just business as unusual, in terms of how we perceive things?

  17. Anonymous

    It is very easy for wealthy people who live in well protected enclaves to tell working class people who live in crime ridden areas with non-responsive policing that they don’t need guns.

    1. Northeaster

      ^This – There’s so much hypocrisy.

      I live in a hell-hole of a city, in a state (MA) where opioid deaths are the number cause of death (more than car crashes). As a firearm owner, licensed to carry concealed, in a very regulated state, I’m not sure which is more hypocritical, the politicians (who work in armed buildings or have State Police details, or the special interests folks in the gated communities and/or private armed security of Weston.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Your idea that having guns around makes you more secure is illusory. You are safe as a gun owner only if they are under lock and key, with the ammo separate from the gun.

        If you think having the gun accessible makes you safer, you are nuts. You are vastly more likely to hurt yourself, have the gun used in a domestic fight, or have someone get at it (like kids) and do themselves or someone else harm.

        1. Rayner86

          Maybe in NYC, but if you live out in the sticks where the average response time for the Sherriff is 45 minutes or more it may not be that illusory.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            The statistics are no different re the odds of hurting yourself or a family member v. any supposed baddie suffering. Crime rates are down all over the US and are lower in rural than urban areas.

            If you are going to keep a gun at ready for your attacker fansasy (not under lock and key) you are putting your entire family at huge risk.

            If you are worried about attackers, a big dog will do you a lot more good.

            1. Rayner86

              “Attacker fantasy”?

              I would disagree with your characterization (both your characterization and substance), and also would submit that in home defense scenarios that you base your assertion on subject to a number of unstated assumptions. I am relatively new to NC so am not familiar with the studies you have cited with respect to individuals that keep a firearm in their house for self-defense suffering from “attacker fantasies”.

              I know of a number of places in the rural US that the local authorities recommend homeowners in hard to get to locations for first responders have power backup, emergency supplies and a firearm.

              You can talk statistics until you are blue in the face but being the “outlier” that involves an incident when you are on your own far from assistance it is prudent to have the tools and resources to protect yourself.

              And securing firearms is not all that difficult. I don’t keep one under my pillow and certainly do not keep a loaded firearm unsecured in my house. A shoe box sized lockbox with a simplex lock is an effective method to store a firearm for the purposes of home defense.

              And I also have a big dog, as that is one of the most effective ways to discourage intruders.

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                You have yet to provide any evidence that people in rural areas are in danger. Rural areas are not affluent and not prime targets for theft. People in urban areas are at far more risk. Crime stats confirm that your view of your risk is exaggerated. You could have found this sort of thing as easily as I did:

                It is overwhelmingly clear that, at least in the United States, bigger cities have higher crime rates than smaller cities, small towns or rural areas. The data is so clear on this that it is amazing anyone would assert otherwise.

                Here are the violent crime rates for 2009-2013 as per Table 16 of the FBI’s annual “Crime in the United States” report. The pattern is not hard to identify. You are about 2.5 times more likely to be a victim of violent crime in a city of more than 250k than in a small town of less than 10k.


                Those “instructions” you cite come in counties that are very red and use that as a defense of gun ownership. The other source of this “advice” is FEMA, which has close connections to the NRA. FEMA has been pushing militarization on all fronts, such as pushing tanks on small communities.

                Telling rural people they can defend themselves is also justification for cutting county/state police budgets even further, per a contact in rural Oregon.

                Ask anybody in NYC how quickly the cops come. Even in the better off neighborhoods, not fast enough to make any make difference. The main use of cops seems to be to police St. Patrick’s Day and crack down on Occupy Wall Street and other protests.

                1. Hiflyer

                  Yves, you’re missing his point. He has not made an assertion that he is more at risk, he has stated that if he does come under attack that the law enforcement response is significantly longer than in a city. He now has to defend himself and his family for at least the 45 minutes that it takes for the local law-enforcement department to respond. Without a means to lawfully defend himself he is at the mercy of the intruder(s).

                  Additionally, from the April 01, 2000 article “Just Dial 911? The Myth of Police Protection” by Richard W. Stevens:

                  “The general rule of law in the United States is that government owes a duty to protect the public in general, but owes no legal duty to protect any particular person from criminal attack. Neither the U.S. Constitution nor the federal civil rights laws require states to protect citizens from crime. As a federal appeals court bluntly put it, ordinary citizens have “no constitutional right to be protected by the state against being murdered by criminals or madmen.” [Bowers v. DeVito, 686F. 2nd 616, 618 (7th Cir. 1982)]

                  1. Lambert Strether

                    > He now has to defend himself and his family for at least

                    Not at all responsive. Yves’ writes:

                    If you are going to keep a gun at ready for your attacker fansasy (not under lock and key) you are putting your entire family at huge risk.

                    If you are worried about attackers, a big dog will do you a lot more good.

                    “Now he has to” is a textbook case of question begging, however, so at least some readers have been edified. I just want to discussion to be fair, open, and intellectually honest…

                  2. Yves Smith Post author

                    Wowsers, you must work not to get the point.

                    Once you have been attacked, what difference does it make how fast the cops get there, whether it is five minutes or an hour? The bad act has already taken place. I was hit by a cab in NYC. Hit and run. Very badly bruised and cut a bit, but nothing worse, and it could have been way worse. Waited over 20 minutes for them to arrive. Finally got myself to a police station to report the incident. Waste of time. This was prime Upper East Side. And you tell me the cops are useful? Really?

                    Similarly, I knew a couple where the stage 4 alcoholic wife would regularly call in false reports of domestic violence to try to get a protection order v. her hubby (who did divorce her) so she could get his rent controlled apartment. They’d haul her off to the drunk tank. But even the first few times, before they got into the record what was really going on in that household, their response times weren’t good either. Again in a supposedly “nice: NYC neighborhood.

                    If you are being robbed/assaulted, you won’t be able to call the police while the crime is underway. Police are rarely in a position to intercede in a crime as it happens.

                    Crimes are much higher in cities, period.

          2. Michael O

            I know hippies who live in the middle of the woods and reluctantly keep a rifle for hungry bears who can’t be otherwise shooed away. They hope to never use it but enough neighbors have had problems it convinced them it’s a good idea. None have ever mentioned a problem with people. By in the middle of the woods I mean driving miles on dirt roads to the middle of nowhere, not a large suburban lot. Buying an insurance policy on it, and the few bullets they have for it, wouldn’t be a problem.

        2. IC_deLight

          This is really about YOUR fear not that of others. Because you fear guns you wish to deny others from having them.

          This article wholly fails to make the connection between collecting “insurance” (i.e., tax) from gun purchasers and how and who those insurance monies would be distributed.

          Don’t even feign to suggest the plan here isn’t about trying to tax gun ownership out of existence for all but the elite, the exempt, and the criminals.

          Suppose Chicago had this plan. Will its tax coffers suddenly overflow? No. What qualifications would be adopted for payout? Is this going to reduce criminal activity in Chicago? No. Will thugs suddenly pay gun taxes? No. It’s not like they were worried about committing crimes to begin with.

          It is absurdly obvious the real goal here is to impose a tax with the goal of depriving citizens of the ability to own or use a gun under the guise of insurance. Go ahead and claim it doesn’t. No one will believe you and gun sales will soar. What other Constitutional rights do you think you can deprive others of so that you can “feel safe”?

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            No, I grew up in a family of hunters. I don’t have a fear of guns. I see stupid people all over the US, all the time, who have no concept of gun safety and do idiotic things like carry guns in their purses or on their car seats. And in places like Dallas, they are everywhere. If you aren’t concerned about being near these people, you have a very poor appreciation of risk.

            1. Wukchumni

              Many decades ago, friends in the midlands of the UK met a couple from Kentucky on holiday there and hit it off, and a year later they visited them in the Bluegrass State, and the wives went out for a meal, and she noticed a gun in her friend’s purse, and said in a very English accent: “Nadine, what is that doing in your purse?” to which the Kentuckian woman replied in an equally out there accent “I don’t rightly know, I hardly ever have to use it.”

    2. Lambert Strether

      > It is very easy for wealthy people who live in well protected enclaves to tell working class people who live in crime ridden areas with non-responsive policing that they don’t need guns.

      Do consider reading the post. The issue is not whether anybody “needs guns.” The issue is whether guns should be insured.

  18. oliverks

    I have joked for some time that bullets should be made out of gold, and only solid gold. If you hit someone they get to keep it.

    But the insurance idea makes more sense.

  19. HarrisonBergeron

    The author of this piece means well but in a world of 3D printers and partially completed AR lower receivers the costs to build guns is trivial, not to mention the 300mm in circulation already. Smokeless powder and primers are not easy to make at home. That’d be the choke point not the guns.

  20. freedeomny

    I used to get into a lot of “discussions” with my ex-boss re guns. He was a BIG gun guy primarily using them for hunting, but also for protection. As background, he lives in an upper class Westchester (outside of NYC) suburb. When I would suggest insurance for gun owners (using the car insurance analogy) he would always respond that guns were a right and not a privilege (a la second amendment), and that cars were not a right……

  21. joe defiant

    This kid from Bangladesh should get a parade. The courage to give up your life to bring attention to the exploitation and destruction of your homeland by western civilization is not inside many.

    And I live in NYC.

    Will police officers and military members need to purchase this gun insurance? Car insurance is a scam as well. Where did you get the idea it is universally accepted by society?

  22. joe defiant

    Of course people don’t openly proclaim their right/desire to violently overthrow the government if their rights are taken away here. We live in a surveillance/police state. Anyone who did that would get a visit from the security state.

    You may not be willing to violently protect your rights, the environment, etc. Does not mean there are not others who are.

    1. Code Name D

      Obviously, you haven’t been to an “Oath Keeper’s” raley. Thee re former AND CURRENT millitry peronal openly and publicly (usualy before a chering croud) declare to do jut tht, over throw the government (should the need arise).

      Keep in mind that dometic terrosism is perfectly fine. It’s not until you invoke Ala do you run into problems.

      1. joe defiant

        True. But they only get away with it because they are and have the support of police/military. The government trying to violently repress them would end up a big mess. If the Black Panthers, Animal Liberation Front or the Workers Solidarity Alliance did the same I think results would be different. I’m sure there are also cointelpro type operations going on inside these “Oath Keepers” groups.

  23. Rosario

    There seems to be a lot of either/or thinking in these posts. Why can’t there be rational gun policy (insurance is a good potential route to do that) and a recognition that mental health and metal health care are abysmal in this country, for a multitude of reasons. Both are obviously issues. So lets discuss both routes as part of a whole.

    Gun insurance is not a bad start. Socially costly machinery should be properly regulated and insured. Yves mentioned the parallels to cars, and I think the analogy is very accurate. This recent NYT piece ( is chock-full of data showing that the problem is not “crazies” (archetypal mass murderers) but “well adjusted” people (friend, family member, partner) who fall on hard times and become suicidal. Guns make suicide easy, particularly for males with lower impulse control, for whatever biochemical reasons. It would surprise me if most people on this thread do not know someone who once in their life went through a period where suicide was considered an option. I only hope they did not follow through with it. The ease with which life can be ended really matters. Guns were utilized by nation states and their military/police for this very reason. You don’t have to train people to be sociopaths to use them. This opposed to edged weapons where there is an immense amount of training required in addition to the psychological conditioning to end a human life by thrusting a weapon into another person’s blood filled body.

    Guns do matter in public health, and as machines they are incredibly dangerous. That is why they are engineered as they are.

      1. Rosario

        A lot of reasons that would require more time than I am willing to devote to an online discussion. At least to make a complete argument for the usefulness of insurance in our society. People don’t rely on particular financial instruments for hundreds of years because they have no use.

        I have plenty of critiques of the insurance industry (I’d love it to be treated as a public utility, along with banking), but I am unwilling to simplify problems to such an extent that it conforms to a simple solution (i.e. every shitty thing can go away if I don’t believe in it). That doesn’t practically help people’s lives and neither does replacing understood options to solve problems with appeals to theoretical social constructs. Theory is fine so long as the rubber actually meets the road.

        As far as car insurance, targeted in your post above, what would you propose in its place? Case in point, I have used my insurance on one occasion that would have left me without a vehicle to work my paycheck-to-paycheck job. My car was hit-and-run by a drunk driver while the vehicle was parked. Now ideally, the asshole that hit my car would have fixed the problem (something that would not be possible if no one had insurance), but instead my insurance dealt with it. Insurance that I was capable of paying via a monthly premium and a minor deductible to cover over $2000 worth of damage to my car’s steering and suspension. Something that I would not have been able to save up for in the period between getting out of college and the wreck.

        Again, it isn’t just as simple as insurance is a scam. Sure, what is new? It also works. I also think every form of capitalist employment is a scam on the employed, but I’m not arguing for people to stop working. Solving the problem is complex. Maybe we can find a way for it to work better? Maybe make it a public option similar to what health care should be? I’m open to ideas.

        1. joe defiant

          You are advocating bandaids instead of solutions because you believe they personally benefit you. The solution to insurance company grift and theft is no insurance companies. If you weren’t paying for insurance you could have used that money to purchase a new vehicle. You can get a working vehicle to get you back and forth to work for $500.

        2. IC_deLight

          Notice in your example that you paid for insurance to coverharm done to you. Not really analogous to what you were trying to promote. If you want insurance for fear you might have property damage or personal harm as a result of someone else’s use of a gun – then by all means go buy yourself some insurance just like your example.

  24. joe defiant

    Your argument that an armed resistance group would be easily defeated by the police or military goes against the entire history of armed guerilla resistance.

    M-26-7 (cuba), URNG (guatemala) sandinistas (nicaragua) Araguaia guerrilla (brazil) Morazanist Patriotic Front (honduras) Bolivarian Forces of Liberation (venezuela) Tupamaros (uruguay) Montoneros (argentina) Shining Path (peru) IRA/REAL IRA(ireland) Chechan guerillas, FNLA/MPLA (angola) ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, PKK, YPP, YPJ, Viet Minh, Hamas, PLO, Taliban and many many others would disagree with your assesment that violent resistance cannot even think about fighting against the “police and military”.

    With very little money and resources the largest military in the world has been defeated and/or held at bay numerous times.

    Your argument is of course what TPTB want everyone to believe.

    1. joe defiant

      Of course in the USA your argument completely falls apart because most of these “gun nuts” that you want to purchase insurance ARE THE POLICE AND MILITARY.

    2. voteforno6

      The major difference is, that it’s quite a bit more difficult to defeat insurgencies on their territory than it is to do so on your own. Besides, you can’t really make this argument without taking into account the number of times that insurgencies were defeated.

  25. bronco

    Terrible idea , the main reason being , 99% of insurance is a giant state approved hand reaching into my wallet. Been paying car insurance for 32 years without a claim , house insurance for 15 years without a claim too for that matter. Thousands upon thousands of dollars transfered from my wallet to people I don’t know.

    What are the supposed costs of gun violence? Wildly inflated health care bills? You know the gun insurance company would bend over backwards to avoid paying any claim , and by the way who would supposedly have standing to make the claim? Would it be like postal insurance where the sender pays , but then has to depend on the receiver to make a claim? Would the shooter be expected to help the victim make a claim ?

    I don’t carry a gun so it wouldn’t effect me financially but I’m pretty sure the answer to any question is never going to be pay more money to a for profit insurance company.

    Instead of making guns illegal lets make insurance illegal and make everyone bear the direct cost of everything they do. I bet a lot of behaviors would change

    1. lyle

      The government does not require homeowners insurance only the mortgage lender. If you own a house free and clear you are free not to buy insurance. As to cars if you want the privilege of driving a car you are supposed to have insurance but a lot of folks do not. If you use Uber/Lyft you don’t need insurance.

    2. Lambert Strether

      > Instead of making guns illegal lets make insurance illegal and make everyone bear the direct cost of everything they do. I bet a lot of behaviors would change

      With health insurance, assuming there was no Medicare for All solution, a lot of people who were unlucky enough to get illnesses they couldn’t save up to pay for would suffer and die. Not the kind of world I want to live in.

  26. Saylor

    To clarify a point (on my behalf)…I don’t want the insurance companies involved AT ALL.
    I look at this to be a pool/fund that accumulates directly from the sale of weapons and ammo into a Federal or State fund solely for the purpose of compensation to victims. Someone who is innocent and wounded should have medical expenses covered and loss of wages (at the LEAST). If killed, the family that suffers income loss should have an annuity payout (at the LEAST).

    1. bronco

      Its not going to work regardless. Look at the tobacco settlement, all the set aside money just gets raided and spent by politicians for anything else they feel like spending money on.

      Social security , medicare , use fees for national parks , gas taxes , they will just direct the money where ever they feel like .

      1. Lambert Strether

        > Social security , medicare , use fees for national parks , gas taxes , they will just direct the money where ever they feel like .

        That’s just not true. You know it’s not true. So why are you saying it?

    2. flora

      That could be constructed along the lines of the federal highway trust fund, which is funded by 18cent tax per gal. of gasoline and 24cent tax per gal. of diesel fuel and other fuel excise taxes.

  27. JBird

    Even if I wanted to ban and destroy all guns everywhere, which is a reasonable position, even though I do not agree with it, but in a country where hookworm is normal in some counties, unemployment or homelessness or both are endemic in many places, while an ever shrinking percentage of the population lives comfortably, safely, securely saying charging people more money is a solution for anything seems unserious. It’s a neo-liberal response being used on an increasingly immiserated population.

    A position of absolute prohibition would be more honest but saying actual mental illness is the problem is also disingenuous. There is not an epidemic of crazy people causing mass shootings, and it would be nice if the suffering of the mental ill was taken seriously other than as an excuse.

    I would also note that the increasing rate of mass shootings, which only started in the 1980s has increased with the increasing levels of economic, social, and even political pressures. Also murders tend to increase in any areas which has brutal and,or corrupt policing. So we all agree (I hope!) that just surviving is steadily getting harder and that our security state is increasingly brutal, certainly lethal, often corrupt, and frequently incompetent (likewise.) especially in those increasingly desperate growing parts of our country. Again with some people living with excellent police services (and most police are still good people trying to do good) and many others…not.

    Anyways, like with the decrease in life expectancy in our country, it will only get better when all people are living not only well, but together, but God help us with that.

      1. Ben Around

        It seems JBird and I agree that this is a bigger issue than just Sandy Hook and the like, as big a thing as that is on its own.

        Even the Charles Whitman episode has more angles than you portray. As you may recall, citizens coordinated with the police and provided covering fire for law enforcement who approached and killed him at point-blank range.

        And I am stunned by this “marketplace-oriented” position, this neoliberal financialization of a real problem. It isn’t that people need money after they get wrongfully shot. The problem is that they are getting shot.

        Over and over, the proponents of this economic choice argument are dodging the larger question of the citizen’s relationship with the state. Do you really think people own AR-15s because they love to hunt? No! They own them because “power comes from the barrel of a gun.”

        1. Wukchumni

          Oh no, we aren’t going to:

          ‘the only thing that stops a bad person with a gun is a good person with a gun’ card, are we?

        2. joe defiant

          There is the bottom line. Someone finally hit it. Our world is run by power from the barrel of a gun. Citizens should all refrain from having this power unless those same powers say it’s OK.

          But you want me to jump thru hoops and give them up if I cannot afford them. Personally I live outside the law when it comes to personal choices. I buy a gun if I want one, ingest what I want in my body, and if I wasn’t so against car culture, I would drive when I wanted to without license and insurance. I’ve already done the jail time and been labeled a felon like the rest of my poor brothers before doing any of that so what more can they take from us?

  28. The Rev Kev

    Hmmm, a coupla points. I don’t see gun owners wanting to go the insurance angle willingly as that would entail having their guns registered. A good idea? Yes, but they will point out that gun owners in France were registered so when it was taken over in 1940, they knew exactly who had a gun that needed to be confiscated. I think that that is their stand point here. Then again they can get very delusional – like the time two blokes went to Dearborn police station to make a complaint ( and thought it a great idea to be all rigged out in body armour, balaclavas and assault rifles and were surprised by the reaction of the police in the station (who had all seen what happened in the police station in the original Terminator movie – Jee-suz!
    A little anecdote. A couple years ago I was on a train in the city when I overheard an American tourist talking to a coupla other people. He looked a bit like Jamie Hyneman from Mythbustres and he was moaning that on this trip over that he did not have a gun with him but had to leave it behind. Looking around the city afterwards, I recalled that conversation and asked myself where you would possibly want one here and for what possible purpose. Practically nobody packs down here except the cops and security guards and the like. We like it this way. Gun crime is just not that common. My brother, who was a police prosecutor, had a good idea about guns and crime. He said that there should be a ten year sentence for using a gun in a crime that cannot be reduced or be run concurrent with any other sentence. So a judge would say; ‘So there was a gun involved here? Right, that is ten years in the slammer. Now let’s talk about those bank robbing charges.’
    One last point. The author stated “And if you were to take up this battle with your precious guns,you would lose.” Really? You want to lay odds on that? Remember that lone gunman who killed several cops while only being self trained? They had to kill him with a remote controlled robot. You think that the police and army would love the idea of fighting in a inner city. Ask someone who has done that what it is like. And in the country? Remember how that worked out for the British in the 1770s. And how many guns are there in the US. And how many people that have military training? People may be entitled to their delusions but not about stuff like this.

    1. Lambert Strether

      > I don’t see gun owners wanting to go the insurance angle willingly as that would entail having their guns registered.

      The post says very explictly that’s registration is not the proposal:

      But gun fanatics argue against a registry. Ignoring that the vast majority of countries that allow private weapon ownership require registration we’ll take this at face value: no registries. But there’s a fine solution: mandatory insurance at the point of sale.

      Every gun and every bullet will come with gun
      insurance, automatically bundled with the purchase.

      Your comment is interesting in other aspects, so thank you, but I continue to be amazed by how many people jump into the discussion, some sharing their views vociferously, without having read the post. These weirdly reflexive actions don’t speak well of gun culture, to be frank, although of course individuals vary widely in cultures (the commenter whose box of shells would last 10 years, for example).

  29. F.U. Engles

    “Time to make gun owners pay for the full cost of their hobby.”

    Make them how? With the threat of violence? Fanatical Marxist control freaks can’t see their most obvious of contradictions.

  30. MichaelSF

    How about we start be ditching the fable of “gun accidents” and instead treat them as the gun negligence they are? Leaving a loaded weapon sitting around that can be accessed by minors/untrained people, not treating every weapon as loaded (“I thought it was unloaded when I pulled the trigger”), leaving your loaded weapon where it can be knocked over and send a “freedom bullet” into your neighbor’s apartment etc etc are all negligent acts and should be treated as such.

    If people want to be considered responsible gun owners, then do them the favor of taking them at face value and demand that they be responsible.

    No more “the poor parent who let their child kill themselves/their playmate has been punished enough” get out of jail free cards. The parent’s negligence killed their child/neighbor’s child, they need to take responsibility and make restitution.

    1. joe defiant

      Do you feel as strongly about people drinking poisoned water, using toxic pipes, living above toxic landfills, breathing toxic air from industry and vehicles, consumers poisoning third world nations with their toxic trash, wildlife being killed and poisoned by industry? Let’s ditch the fable of “accidental” oil spills, toxic waste getting into the water, destruction from diverting rivers and streams, “sustainable” agriculture, “green” energy, and recycling while we are at it. I’m willing to give up my guns or get insurance when those responsible for these things all pay too.

      Are the people responsible also going to take responsibility and make restitution? Or do you save your scorn for hillbillies and the poor?

      What if the only way to make them “take responsibility and make restitution” is via violent revolution with firearms?

      1. Michael O

        Under CERCLA polluters do pay. Sometimes the federal government advances the funds but they later collect from any party that owned the property. If the business that polluted is defunct they’ll pierce the corporate veil and collect from the ultimate owners.

        The gun carnage is unacceptable. But forcing us to pay for it is morally bankrupt.

        1. JBird

          The Superfund has been underfunded since the 1980s at least and does not cover much of what joe defiant mentioned. Whoever is at fault for that list of poisons, it is everyone else, especially the poor that often can only afford to live there or had their area chosen while they were already there, that pays with their health, and often lives, and not the people responsible.

          I would also have to say using hyperbolic words such as “gun carnage” is unproductive. There is a long, long, long list of preventable awful things, and actions, that are causing illness and deaths in our nation, and the 10,000 murders, and 20,000 accidents/suicides, while awful are no worse than any of the other preventable causes.

          Also there is nothing unique, or special, about these deaths. The pain that these deaths caused has nothing to do with the means.

          The ~1,700 know deaths over 81 years, caused by jumpers of the Golden Gate, or the probable 250,000 deaths each year caused by medical errors are all the same.

  31. jackiebass63

    I go to a so called red neck bar in NY state almost every day. Many of the patrons are what I called gun nuts. Most of them appear to have safety issues where they see threats that actually don’t exist. They have multiple guns and huge stashes of ammo. One person in particular claims he needs his guns and ammo to protect himself, for target practice, and defend himself if they come for his guns. I told him if they came for his guns his armory would be useless. There wold have to be a provision cover people that make their own ammo. You would need to tax these supplies. I own guns but none that I don’t use to hunt. I jokingly say to these gun nuts that I bought a box of 20 rifle shells. At the rate I use them, two per year, this box will last me 10 years. I shoot one at a target to see if the gun is accurate and one at the deer I harvest. The gun nuts are decent people but they have been brain washed by all of the NRA propaganda that is intended to confirm their fears that any form of gun control will lead to their guns being confiscated. They just don’t believe me when I tell them no-one is going to take away their guns because the gun industry is a big part of the economy in most states. A lot of money is involved in the various uses of guns. This proposal to me seems well thought out and reasonable.

    1. Michael O

      AIPAC lost on the Iran treaty (which is a good thing). The NRA won the right to keep bump stocks even after conceding they’re probably a bad idea. No lobby is as strong as the NRA.

      1. Hiflyer

        …and by “won the right to keep bump stocks even after conceding they’re probably a bad idea” you mean that the NRA supported the congressional proposal to place bump-stocks on the NFA list that requires registration and a tax stamp:

        NRA: “Devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.”

        I just want to discussion to be fair, open, and intellectually honest…thank you.

        1. Michael O

          That’s their public stance. As of now bump stocks are still entirely unregulated and, last I heard, there’s nothing pending to change that. That’s their private stance.

      2. vidimi

        on the other hand, AIPAC just won on the Jerusalem issue, in defiance of the entire world. they have full, bipartisan support in both houses in the US whereas some democrats openly defy the NRA. furthermore, international issues such as Iran sanctions are more complicated and therefore cannot be compared to national issues such as domestic gun policy. if the US didn’t require the support of the rest of the world, especially Europe, on abiding by Iran sanctions, they surely would have won that one as well.

  32. vidimi

    I do like this solution. I wonder about how it would be enforced, though. The insurance would have to be sold with the gun and every time someone tried to buy ammo, they would need to prove that they have an in-force policy as contracts would presumably be annual with tacit renewal much like auto insurance. canceling would work much like canceling an auto policy but an individual with a lapsed policy could no longer legally purchase ammo. otherwise, cops can stop people carrying firearms and demand to see a valid insurance policy much like they do when they pull over a driver. Because there would be no registry (unlike with motor vehicles), it would be more difficult to enforce, so the penalty against any vendors selling ammunition to uninsured persons would need to be very stiff.

    1. Michael O

      It’d be a one time permanent policy sold with weapons or ammo. They have to show proof they’d purchased a policy or the gun stores can sell them. With that there’s no registration needed. Insurers could work out the actuarial details.

      1. vidimi

        a permanent policy could work too, but it would require insurers to hold more capital, which they are loathe to do. you would still need to hold ammunition sellers accountable to make sure they are not selling to uninsured guns, so there wouldn’t really be any cost savings. just thinking about what would be most practical.

        calculating the premium would be interesting, especially if that premium was a one-off and was to cover the entire lifetime of a gun. the plus side would be that it would make the gun prohibitively expensive for many would-be gun owners; the downside is that nobody could price such a policy accurately.

        1. Michael O

          I suspect most of the premiums would come from ammunition sales and high-risk weapons: those that are often tied to the most expensive carnage. I’m sure insurance companies could and would figure out the actuarial tables, with reinsurance covering mass shootings.

          1. vidimi

            figuring out the annual death rates and costs per type of gun would be easy. figuring out how many years of risk the policy should cover is the tricky part, which is why the car insurance model makes sense to me.

            an assault rifle would be the insurance equivalent of a ducati motorbike, and premiums would be calibrated accordingly.

            there are all sorts of interesting discussions that can be had around lapses, pricing (should responsible owners get premium discounts after years of no claims? gender-based pricing would mean women pay less than men, etc…), enforcement, etc.

  33. MB

    Fareed Zakaria last week on GPS summarized two stats to put the gun issue in perspective:

    This past year, roughly 26,000+ deaths were due to GLOBAL terrorism. (in all the world).

    In excess of 35,000+ deaths were due to gun violence in the USA.

    1. Hiflyer

      According to the CDC data that I have access to (2014), the CDC states that 33,594 deaths were attributable to firearms. Among these deaths, suicidal firearm related deaths are listed at 21,386 and homicidal firearm deaths are 11,008. If the argument that you are proposing is that there were more intentional deaths caused in the US by firearms than intentional deaths caused in the world by terrorism then that argument would best be presented in an “apples to apples” case to be constructive and intellectually honest. In that case intentional homicides in the US (2014) were 11,000+. Now, if FA has more current statistical information than is being presented on the the current CDC website I would love to see it (anyone have a link?).

      1. Lambert Strether

        I don’t know if I like the move of excluding intentional deaths. It seems to me that you’re assuming that suicides are fungible by method, which is unlikely to be true with guns, since guns are machines that are designed for killing living beings, and most other methods (pills, for example) are not, and are less efficient and more indirect.

        At the risk of appearing totally unserious, allow me to quote John D. MacDonald, who puts the idea that suicides are not fungible by method quite well:

        (Sorry for any pain caused to readers for whom this analysis is not theoretical.)

  34. Saylor

    To reiterate…you do NOT have to have the insurance companies involved.

    You do NOT have to even register the weapon.

    The store collects a one time fee at time of purchase for the weapon and any subsequent ammo.

    It goes into a pool/fund. It does not matter if the state/fed gubbermint steals from that fund as long as they make money available to the innocent people harmed by the use of a gun.

    The article was about having the people that want a dangerous item to provide for those that are harmed by said dangerous item.

    It is NOT about reducing guns, taking away guns, punishing any sector of gun owners or making ANY OTHER POINT.

    Sheesh people. What is it with this reading comprehension problem?

    1. MWoodward

      It’s not a reading comprehension problem. It’s a whole collection of logical problems. It’s also a political ploy. Dead victims, those harmed the most, are well, dead. The insurance/fee solutions argued above didn’t protect them and didn’t compensate them. Sandy Hook, Las Vegas, Orlando, nothing to help. The class with the greatest losses doesn’t benefit at all. Then some “agency” has to adjudicate the claims. Did the gang banger who got shot in the commission of a crime get paid from the pool? Was he just charged with a crime or do you wait for the courts to decide? Do you pay a claim to the suicide victims family even though it was a self inflicted act? This is, after all, the largest class of losses. Haven’t we just then incentivized more suicides? I understand some people don’t feel safe knowing concealed weapons may be carried around by licensed holders. What are the actual statistics on the risks these people hold in public? Shouldn’t we be more worried about violent criminals? The solutions offered by the article above do nothing to solve any real problems.

      1. Lambert Strether

        > Dead victims, those harmed the most, are well, dead.

        So you’re arguing that in no case there should be compensation for acts of omission or commission that result in death? I think you are, and I would like to see you distinguish between the case you urge should not be compensated (gun deaths) and other cases (penalties for creating occupational hazards, for example, or deaths on the highway).

        And it’s not just “logical problems.” I just answered a “he’s gonna take our guns away” comment below.

        1. MWoodward

          No, I’m not arguing “in no case there should be compensation for acts of omission or commission that result in death?”. I’m pointing out the the vast majority of the deaths in this discussion are self inflicted and or the product of other already criminal or gang related activity. Clearly these are cases where the acts were intentional, criminal and should not be supported by any monies derived from a citizen of this country who has done nothing wrong. This reality creates very practical problems for the implementation of such an “insurance” program. Other persons injured with guns by their own negligence or the negligence of others already have private homeowners insurances, civil and criminal courts to mitigate these claims. If a gun owner wants to buy additional insurance let them. I am arguing that the proposal is a) disingenuous because it doesn’t, and can’t compensate the deceased and b) might actually incentivize the rate and method of suicides by gun, and c) is practically unworkable.
          Heller correctly identified the historical context and intent of the second amendment. The very presupposition that a constitutional right can be subject to taxation or usury fees is absurd.

          1. Michael O

            “Clearly these are cases where the acts were intentional, criminal and should not be supported by any monies derived from a citizen of this country who has done nothing wrong.”

            Wrong. There are costs and they are currently paid by everybody.

            You, who I presume are a gun owner, are externalizing — cost shifting — the costs of your paranoid hobby to me, the non gun owner, and all those like me.

            Ignoring those costs or lying to say they do not exist is not an option.

            Nobody is “taxing” your precious guns. But gun owners, and gun owners alone, must pay the costs of your hobby. You don’t pay for my hobbies; I shouldn’t be paying for yours. Victims of gun violence definitely should not be paying anything.

            Heller was a hatchet job, a leap so extreme the NRA filed a brief urging the Supreme Court not to issue an opinion because they thought they had no chance of winning based on historic precedent.

  35. Friedman's Ghost

    Let the government seize the guns, melt them down and turn them into bomb-dropping drones. Does anyone really think there can be an “armed rebellion” against the US government? I mean, this is what the whole “milita” argument is about right?

    1. Lambert Strether

      > Let the government seize the guns

      Consider reading the post, which doesn’t advocate that. It’s really interesting to see people reacting reflexively on this point. Apparently, critical faculties — even the ability to read — get short-circuited on this topic somehow.

  36. todde

    I don’t think anyone is going to give up their guns.

    I’ve seen a lot of violence (witnessed two murders). I can’t say I blame them.

    1. Lambert Strether

      > I don’t think anyone is going to give up their guns.

      Do consider reading the post. I have helpfully underlined the relevant part of the very last sentence:

      We can’t take the guns but we can at least make sure the bullets do not come with a bill for victims of gun violence.

      Of course, nobody wants to pay the price of externalities they create. But making gun owners do so seems quite reasonably to me. I think you need to get that knee seen to.

      1. todde

        There are 10 million gun sales a year.

        Divide that into the amount of tax you want to collect and it seems only a certain class of people gets to own them.

          1. todde

            Do we raise sales taxes on medicine to combat opioid deaths?

            “We must combat the economic costs of gun ownership” I would have more respect for you if you just came out and said it is time to ban guns.

            I went to my friends funeral a while back and was talking to his niece.

            Her son just got his skull bashed in by a bunch of people not two blocks from the place where I got my skull bashed in 30 years ago; which is probably less than 400 yards from the place that I witnessed my 1st murder where a bunch of guys bashed another man’s skull in and jumped on his chest ass he was dying while I hid in a hedge row with a knife.

            So forgive me if I don’t have much care for the ‘economic consequences’ of gun violence.

            Charge your tax, give a rebate for people under a certain income level.

  37. Dirk77

    Interesting article and comments. I have one suggestion: how about flipping the 2nd amendment around and requiring every able bodied person, regardless of status, be part of a local militia? This has a number of positives: it underscores the social contract which apparently many people have forgotten; it builds community by having you hang out with your neighbors once a month – probably unwillingly but that’s part of the point; you learn useful things like first aid, self-defense, group organizing and strategy; like the Irish Brigade you’d elect your own leaders; and it decreases the need for professional soldiers, allowing the military to be cut back a lot.

    Just a thought.

    1. Michael O

      This is the Swiss and Israeli model. The “militia” is the national army but the countries are so small it may as well be the same. They keep their weapons at home: everybody is armed to the teeth, with fully automatic weapons, but they have relatively low deaths from guns. They’re taught gun safety and respect for weapons during their compulsory military training. There are merits to the idea but adding obligatory insurance would be a lot easier.

      1. Wukchumni

        It was a little weird being on a Swiss train, and having the guy next to you in uniform, as he placed an unloaded high velocity rifle in the overhead bin…

        Swiss gun laws are very restrictive compared to here though, no comparison.

      2. Dirk77

        Why not both universal militias and a tax or inusurance on gun-related purchases? I stress the community aspect of the militia since people have been arguing that a lot of gun deaths are caused at least partly by people feeling isolated. It would be interesting to hear from a Swiss or Israeli about their experience.

  38. Jacob

    The majority (about 60%) of gun deaths in the U.S. are suicides. Based on gun death statistics, one could reasonably presume that a majority of gun owners own a gun because they’ve experienced suicidal thoughts and want the freedom to own the means to actualize those thoughts if desired.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Making stuff up is against out written site Policies. A search (which I should not have had to make) shows your thesis is false. Suicide rates are high in households that already have guns. Gun suicides are highest among middle aged men, and there is no evidence whatsoever that they go out and buy them for that purpose.

      In the United States, access to firearms is associated with an increased risk of completed suicide.[60] A 1992 case-control study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed an association between estimated household firearm ownership and suicide rates, finding that individuals living in a home where firearms are present are more likely to commit suicide than those individuals who do not own firearms, by a factor of 3 or 4.[1][61] A 2006 study by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found a significant association between changes in estimated household gun ownership rates and suicide rates in the United States among men, women, and children.[62] A 2007 study by the same research team found that in the United States, estimated household gun ownership rates were strongly associated with overall suicide rates and gun suicide rates, but not with non-gun suicide rates.[63] A 2013 study reproduced this finding, even after controlling for different underlying rates of suicidal behavior by states.[64] A 2015 study also found a strong association between estimated gun ownership rates in American cities and rates of both overall and gun suicide, but not with non-gun suicide.[65] Correlation studies comparing different countries do not always find a statistically significant effect.[66]:30 A 2016 cross-sectional study showed a strong association between estimated household gun ownership rates and gun-related suicide rates among men and women in the United States. The same study found a strong association between estimated gun ownership rates and overall suicide rates, but only in men.[67] During the 1980s and early 1990s, there was a strong upward trend in adolescent suicides with guns[68] as well as a sharp overall increase in suicides among those age 75 and over.[69]

      David Hemenway, professor of health policy at Harvard University’s School of Public Health, and director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center and the Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center, stated

      Differences in overall suicide rates across cities, states and regions in the United States are best explained not by differences in mental health, suicide ideation, or even suicide attempts, but by availability of firearms. Many suicides are impulsive, and the urge to die fades away. Firearms are a swift and lethal method of suicide with a high case-fatality rate.[13]

    2. Jacob

      I got the information for my comment from this October 8, 2015 NYT article: “Gun Deaths Are Mostly Suicides”. The first part of my comment is based on the statistics reported in the NYT article. The second part of my comment is clearly indicated as my own speculation as to the possibility that many people who own guns have had suicidal ideation and may consider a gun to be the easiest and surest way to actualize their ideas, if and when the urge arises. Many gun enthusiasts are reactionaries and thus may be more likely than others to act on impulse.

  39. Anarcissie

    Post -Trump, especially after he told the police to beat up suspects (fascism) I have been earnestly studying how Naziism came to Germany. Now I am not so sure how much I want to impede gun ownership among minorities. It is true one probably can’t defeat regular military forces, but you could always take one with you, which might discourage a general pogrom.

Comments are closed.