I've just found this article from late 2012 (after the Sandy Hook shooting) where the Daily Beast's Megan McArdle examines the proposals for making gun owners carry insurance. Given the increasingly puritanical calls from the BMA about alcohol / fat / tobacco / salt and making their consumers "bear the cost" of their indulgences, it's instructive to examine how well this approach works for gun owners.
Accidental death and injury rate from guns is fairly low, compared to both other gun incidents, and other categories of accident: 14,000 injuries and 600 deaths in 2011. This sounds like a lot, but in a population of 300 million, a lot of people die each year from almost anything: dozens of kids a year drown in buckets.The focus of this law must clearly be homicide. Except - wait! people who commit homicide with guns don't often legally own the gun, and therefore will have at best a "relaxed" approach to owning insurance for the device. Many people commit suicide with guns, but again it's hard to imagine that they're going to be overly concerned about buying and keeping that insurance; and to whom would the insurance pay out? It also turns out that even for really obvious and easy-to-police items, it's hard to ensure that owners have insurance:
One in seven drivers in America is uninsured. That's despite the fact that they are driving a large, hard-to-conceal object which is regularly inspected by the fleet of parking and traffic enforcement professionals hired specifically by governments for this purpose.You can view the idea of "mandatory liability insurance for gun owners" in two main ways. One is as a subversive attempt to make gun ownership more expensive, in order to reduce the number of law-abiding gun owners. The other is to provide a fund to compensate the victims of gun crime.
It would be interesting to apply this approach to other indulgences. I understand that there's a certain problem with criminal damage and assaults arising from drinking in British town and city centres. So let's only allow adults over 18 years old to buy alcohol from pubs and clubs if they can present proof of alcohol liability insurance. The insurers will look at age (under 30 years of age indicates disproportionate likelihood to cause trouble), gender (males more likely to cause problems to others than females), previous criminal convictions (of course) and presumably employment status - full time employees are less likely to get pissed and commit acts of violence because come Monday morning they'll be lining up with other unemployed people. Maybe there would be different levels of insurance; the lowest level lets you order a glass of wine, then progressively higher levels of insurance are required to be allowed to order strong lager, tequila shots, and the top-end insurance would allow you to drink vodka + Red Bull. In the event of alcohol-caused criminal damage, your insurance would pay out to cover the costs of the injured parties.
Perhaps I shouldn't give people ideas.