Want to limit the number of firearms in this country? Or better yet, would you just like to make sure the people who do own them are responsible, careful individuals? Then have I got a policy proposal for you: make gun buyers purchase liability insurance for their weapons.
That clever idea has been buzzing around the internet for the past few days, picking up endorsements from New York University economist Nouriel Roubini, The Economist, and Robert Cyran and Reynolds Holding at Reuters Breaking Views, among others. The thinking is that insurance would make gun ownership more expensive and a hassle, which would discourage some people from buying weapons, or at least from acquiring huge arsenals. But it would make gun ownership particularly expensive for those who are most likely to get caught up in some sort of violence. So lifetime hunters with spotless criminal histories would get a great rate -- The Economist notes that National Rifle Association members can already buy $100,000 worth of gun liability coverage for as low as $165. A jobless 19-year-old male with a disorderly conduct arrest on their record, on the other hand, would have to pay a whole lot more than they could afford.
Forbes contributor John Wasik argues that the idea should be taken a step further by making gun owners liable for any accidents or violent crimes committed with a weapon they own, even if they weren't directly involved. So if you don't keep your gun under lock and key, and somebody gets a hold of it and commits a crime, you'd be on the hook.