In January of 2022 the San Jose, California City Council passed a law stating all gun owning residents of the city must carry liability insurance for those weapons.
It was immediately challenged as unconstitutional. A judge in the original case ruled for the city. However, there have been appeals and the court case is still being heard.
In a bill likely modeled after the San Jose law, Senate Bill 5963 has been introduced in the Washington State Senate. It is sponsored by Democrat Sen. Patty Kuderer. She says it does not violate the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
“This does not regulate, limit, or control the manner or method in which people may keep or bear arms. Instead, it simply says you must have liability insurance. This is an economic requirement that provides a financial incentive for responsible arms-carrying people,” Kurderer noted and said why the bill is important. “Deaths and injuries cost Washington taxpayers at least $169 million a year, inclusive of costs related to accidental shootings.”
Her bill — if passed — will require people owning guns to have a residential dwelling policy or an insurance policy that covers damages and losses from the accidental discharge of a firearm.
It also requires gun owners, at any place they store their guns, to keep written proof on hand that says they are insured.
Kurderer’s bill also requires insurance companies to ask property owners if they own a firearm. If the answer is yes, then the insurer also must ask the gun owner if the gun is properly, and safely and securely, stored.
At the same time, the insurance company must tell the gun owner that they are required to carry liability insurance that covers the accidental discharge of that weapon.
Kurderer’s bill is being heard in the Washington senate’s Senate Crime and Justice Committee. At a hearing last week, testimony was for her bill to be passed.
As you would expect, the National Rifle Association opposes the bill and Aoibheann Cline of the NRA testified on behalf of the association, and consumers owning guns. Cline said this will needlessly increase homeowners rates and keep some legal gun owners from being able to purchase one.
“This bill is a barrier to entry for firearms ownership, and it will price out low and middle-class gun owners, ensuring only the elite may maintain home ownership and their constitutional right to keep and bear arms,” Cline said.
Yakima County Commissioner Amanda McKinney also testified. She agrees with Cline and took a — pun intended — pot shot at Kurderer’s bill.
“This is something that we’ve had a common theme in this legislature,” she said. “If you don’t have a behavior that we agree with, that we’ll find you, put a tax on you, and charge you until that behavior meets the one that we expect.”
One of the biggest problems for gun owners, says Mark Friedlander of the Insurance information Institute (Triple I) is that insurance companies don’t have specific gun owner insurance.
“No major national or regional insurer offers separate gun liability coverage,” Friedlander said.
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