California bill would require gun owners to carry liability insurance

California would be the first state to require gun owners to carry liability insurance to cover the negligent or accidental use of their firearms if lawmakers approve a measure announced Thursday.

“Guns kill more people than cars. Yet gun owners are not required to carry liability insurance like car owners are required to be,” Democratic state Sen. Nancy Skinner said in a statement.

She said the costs of gun violence should not be borne by taxpayers, survivors, families, employers and communities: “It’s time for gun owners to do their fair share.”

New York State is considering a similar requirement following numerous recent mass shootings and an increase in gun violence.

In January, the Silicon Valley city of San Jose approved what is believed to be the first such insurance requirement in the United States.

No insurance company will cover the misuse of a firearm, predicted Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California.

He said such requirements are an illegal violation of the constitutional rights of gun owners.

“We don’t think you can put precursors to the exercise of a constitutional right,” Paredes said. “By requiring someone to have insurance in order to exercise their right to own and bear arms, it ceases to make it a right.”

Skinner amends an existing bill on another subject to allow gun owners to be held civilly liable if their firearms are used to cause property damage, injury or death.

The bill would also require gun owners to carry insurance to cover loss or damage resulting from the careless or accidental use of their firearm. And they should keep proof of insurance with their firearm and show it to the police if they are arrested for any reason.

Paredes had similar objections to a second bill that would also affect gun owner costs by imposing an excise tax on firearms and ammunition.

The bill would impose an excise tax equal to 10% of the sale price of a handgun and 11% of the sale price of a long gun, ammunition or parts to manufacture handguns. fire.

Democratic Congressman Marc Levine estimated that his bill would raise more than $118 million a year that would go to gun violence prevention programs.

Because it would impose a tax, Levine’s bill would require approval by a two-thirds majority in the Legislative Assembly. His similar measure last year was four votes short of the 54 he needed in the 80-member Assembly.

The bills are among several gun measures being considered by California lawmakers this year, including one that would make it easier to prosecute gun manufacturers and another that would allow individuals to sue those who traffic guns. illegal weapons.