Mass. Bill Seeks Liability Insurance for Gun Owners, but Is There a Market?

Among the flurry of last minute legislation filed by Massachusetts legislators last week, one bill would require gun owners to purchase liability insurance.

State Rep. David P. Linsky, D-Natick, filed a bill on Friday that in part would require proof of liability insurance for possession of a firearm, rifle or shotgun.

In a statement, Linsky says his bill, titled “Act to Reduce Gun Violence and to Protect the Citizens of the Commonwealth,” is a “comprehensive effort to reduce all types of gun violence.”

Details of the bill were not available, but the Associated Press reports that it would require gun owners to purchase liability insurance in the event a gun is used to injure.

Linsky is quoted as saying that insurance companies discourage smoking and made cars safer and should be able to exert a similar influence on this marketplace.

Critics are calling it a way for the state to generate more revenues, while proponents say it would promote gun safety because insureds would seek lower rates by properly storing their weapons and taking gun-safety courses.

However, legislators appear to have not made one calculation in introducing this bill: whether there is a market for such insurance.

Frank O’Brien, vice president of government relations for the Property Casualty Insures Association of America says it is a “novel proposal,” but he is not aware of any state that requires a specific insurance policy or if any insurer offers any specific coverage.

He says around 6,000 pieces of legislation were filed Friday and it will be awhile before that bill becomes available for the general public to read. Until then, he cannot form “an intelligent opinion” about the specifics.

He notes, too, that Linsky’s proposal was one of three gun-control bills introduced on Friday in Massachusetts.   

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