Editor's Note: The below letter does not necessarily represent the views of Patch media.
Today is my birthday, and while I am grateful for all the good wishes that have been sent my way, I want to give a present to my country, a comprehensive solution to our gun problem. I had an epiphany last night right before going to sleep. It just came to me all at once and I believe it is the only solution that could pass our divided congress and have any meaningful effect in reducing gun violence, while at the same time not infringing on people's second amendment right to bear arms (which in my mind is truly debatable but unimportant in this solution.)
THE GUN INSURANCE ACT OF 2013
Guns are like cars, they kill people and in the wrong hands they kill even more. With the case of a car, the wrong hands would be a drunk driver, or a criminal escaping a crime, to think of just two situations. With the case of a gun, the wrong hands would be someone with mental health issues or also a criminal using one during the commission of a crime.
We recognize that cars are dangerous and we have mandated insurance and age requirements and licensing in order to protect the public. Even people that are hit by uninsured drivers are protected by insurance pools that have been created for such an event. I was one such person that was left for dead by a hit and run driver at the age of 20. My life would have been much better, financially speaking, if that vehicle had been insured. One of the main obstacles to comprehensive gun laws is the perceived power of the gun lobbying groups headed up by the National Rifle Association (NRA). Gun insurance would add a powerful market force to the side of those seeking reform.
MARKET FORCES. What all Conservatives say they love. A FREE MARKET SOLUTION. Insurance companies would be our protectors to some extent, as they would carefully guard against having to pay out the large amounts payable upon each injury or death caused by a gun. I would suggest mandatory coverage requirements, such as a minimum coverage requirement of one million dollars. PER OCCURRENCE. While I believe that we should immediately ban assault weapons, insurance will be more expensive the more powerful the gun. The insurance industry will determine the costs based on standard loss factors. This step alone will reduce the amount of guns immediately, as most people will not be able to afford the yearly coverage to have more than one or two weapons. If the minimum coverage cost for a nine millimeter was, let's say $1,500 a year, a person desiring to own five or ten guns may have to pay between $7,500-$15,000 a year for insurance.
It's so simple and so effective! I don't see another way to address this as I don't believe this current Supreme Court will uphold any gun laws if they are deemed to be "abridging" the rights of citizens to bear arms.
When a person wants to buy a new gun, they will have to do the exact same thing a car buyer does. They will have to get an insurance binder before they leave with the weapon. Just like you receive a discount if the car has an alarm, one would receive a discount if the buyer had a gun safe. There are many details that need to be worked out, such as how much of a gun sale needs to be pooled for the uninsured losses that will inevitably occur. Current law provides no accountability at all. None on the part of the manufacturer, none on the part of the dealer, none on the part of someone who sells a gun at a gun show.The idea of the gun insurance act is to put accountability at ALL levels. There will be coverage for ANY gun injury or death, whether that gun had a policy or did not. Manufacturers, dealers, gun owners, will all be accountable for weapons they sell (or sold) that cause harm to others.
Under current law, if my child is injured or killed by a car, (either intentionally, recklessly or by pure accident), I have an expectation that the costs incurred due to that injury or death will be borne by insurance, and there will be at least some monetary compensation to ease the pain. But with a gun, (whether by accident, recklessly or intentional), many time it's the peripheral victims themselves (the school or theater where the incident occurred) that end up being sued for negligence. WHY IS THAT? Because people are in pain and they want accountability, so since there is no one to hold accountable, they sue someone for negligence. The school, the theater, the mall. HOW INSANE IS THAT? That school or theater or mall is a victim as well, is it not?
Why does this happen? Because there is no accountability at all for gun deaths and injuries. Lets not try and ban all gun ownership. That's a losing battle. Let's put in a comprehensive federal insurance mandate. This could even work for guns such an assault rifle as the insurance industry may determine that an assault rifle may cost $5,000 a year for insurance. Think about it. The Newtown incident alone would have caused over $26 million in losses to insurance companies. You think they will not protect their investment?
This law will need to have teeth, so I suggest MANDATORY MINIMUM SENTENCES for possession of an uninsured weapon. What's truly more dangerous? A pound of marijuana or a GUN? Which has been proven to kill time and time again? Imposing mandatory minimums will address the close to 300 million guns that are currently in circulation. Accompanied by an extensive buy-back program (for those who can't afford to insure the guns they own), and some repercussions for possession of an uninsured gun (it's a crime to drive an uninsured car, right?), this might just work.
Insurance will offer at least some consolation to those that have suffered. Case in point, the young men that were killed in Florida. With a NO FAULT mandated insurance program, even if those that killed them are found not guilty of murder or held responsible for their deaths, the families will at least receive some recompense for their loss. It's better than nothing,(which is what we have today), and I believe this law would over time greatly reduce the senseless and continuous suffering caused by guns in this country.
What do you think?
Christopher Pukit, Mamaroneck resident