Since the Supreme Court's decisions in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010), some anti-gun politicians have resurrected a decades-old idea: If you can't ban guns, why not tax them so heavily that no ordinary person can afford to exercise his Second Amendment rights?
The latest movement on that front is in our nation's capitol, where District of Columbia Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) introduced Bill 20-170, the "Firearm Insurance Amendment Act." The measure would require D.C. residents to purchase liability insurance--of no less than $250,000--before being allowed to purchase a firearm. The liability insurance policy would specifically need to cover any damages resulting from negligent acts, or willful acts that are not undertaken in self-defense, involving the use of the insured firearm while it is owned by the policy holder. Under B20-170, individuals who currently possess firearms in D.C. would have to purchase liability insurance within 30 days of its effective date.
This week, the NRA submitted written testimony in opposition to the bill, pointing out that the misguided council members who are championing this bill are doing so in spite of the fact that D.C. already has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, yet consistently has one of the highest violent crime rates. Not only will criminals certainly avoid purchasing liability insurance, there are other problems with mandating liability insurance for firearms owners including:
- It is an affront to law-abiding gun owners--you are not required to carry insurance to exercise any other constitutional right.
- It is economically discriminatory--insurance is expensive and such a mandate could make firearm ownership even more unattainable for average law-abiding D.C. residents who have an inherent right to self-defense regardless of income.
- No insurance company will write a policy to cover the intentional or criminal misuse of a firearm. Since the insurance policy B20-170 seeks to mandate does not exist, this could lead to an all-out gun ban in the District of Columbia.
It is critical that D.C. residents continue contacting members of the city Council Committee on Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs and respectfully urge them to oppose B20-170.
Contact information for Chairman Vincent Orange (D) , and council members David Grosso (I) (At-Large), Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), and Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7) can be found here.