In conservative pundit George Will's most recent column, he takes issue with those who wish to divest their financial portfolio of investments in gun companies. In doing so, he may have unwittingly provided a possible solution to the assault weapons debate: gun insurance.
In the column, Will takes issue with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for divesting gun companies from pension fund investments. "For Emanuel to say gun makers 'profit from gun violence' is as sensible as saying automobile manufacturers 'profit from highway carnage' -- which, by the way, kills more Americans than guns do," he writes in his February 3 column "Weighing in on the price of moral grandstanding."
"Emanuel, who is more intelligent than he sounds (just as many think Wagner's music is better than it sounds), must know that not one fewer gun will be made, sold or misused because Chicago is wagging its finger at banks," Will adds.
Of course, the rationale for buying guns and that for buying vehicles are quite different. If your neighbor is shot by a gun, you might consider going out to get a gun for self-defense. But if your neighbor dies in a car crash, you don't buy and automobile to protect yourself.
George Will can also be smarter than he sounds. The same goes for me, of course.
But my in-laws, who pointed me to the story, raised a valid point. If we require car drivers (who operate in a dangerous environment) to get insurance, and those with safe driving records can be rewarded with low premiums, why not do the same for gun owners?
Instead of an assault weapons ban, or even some unconstitutional ban on all firearms, why not replace the public sector regulation with the private sector market? Let insurance companies get into the business of determining who is a good bet and who isn't, just as they do for cars, homes, health, and lifestyle. Companies insure an athlete's arm and a model's legs, right
Those who are responsible owners, like relatives and neighbors of mine who own guns, would be rewarded for being safe. We could provide discounts for those responsible owners who volunteer as school guards as well. Discounts for taking gun safety courses might be in order, the way they apply for safe driver course discounts.
Think this is a crazy idea, right? Already the National Rifle Association provides gun insurance, in the context of keeping firearms from being stolen (one way these weapons find their way into unsafe hands). Other companies I researched on the internet do as well. Gun owners who fail to secure their weapons pay the private sector penalty. Storing and maintaining your weapon is an act, as much as wielding one can be. It would be insurance for usage, as well as possession.
You might not like my idea of taxes on assault weapons and mandatory insurance for gun owners. But we have to think of something. With more gun sellers than gas stations and nearly 47 percent of households having a gun, it is too late to ban one type, much less all. Casualties from law enforcement disarmament would equal that of a war. The NRA's idea about eliminating all background checks (92 percent of Americans oppose this) and arming everyone in America is equally untenable. We need to think of a solution, and fast, before the next tragedy has us wondering if, yet again, something should be done.
John A. Tures, associate professor of political science, LaGrange College; firstname.lastname@example.org