Paula Hendricks

Author ~:~ Writer ~:~ Book Designer ~:~ Book Producer

Let’s License + Insure Guns

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I think we should license and insure all guns and shooters.

We license all kinds of things. Businesses. Motor vehicles — from motorcycles and cars to RVs, airplanes, and boats. We even license trailers. We often say cars don’t kill people, people kill people. But let’s know who is trained and licensed and who isn’t. It would give us more tools to manage the atrocities.

We license ham radios and operators. We license bicycles and dogs. We require permits to operate dangerous activities and machinery. We license pilots and doctors and nurses. We license cranes and people who operate cranes. I’ll bet we’re going to license private astronauts, too.

So let’s license guns and shooters. And make it work either federally or like DMVs so it can be searchable across state lines. Make the shooters demonstrate competency. Make them renewable, for both the gun and the shooter. We often issue licenses and permits only to those who have experience or training. And we make them prove it — through written tests, driving tests, 3rd party certifications. We know how to do this.

We don’t issue permits and licenses to just anybody. And we take those permits away for bad behavior. So background checks matter. For every sale. No loopholes.

And while we’re at it, let’s require insurance. I have to insure my car and have the option of insuring me in any car I drive. I have insurance against uninsured motorists. When I had an RV I had RV insurance. I have health insurance, renters insurance, well you get the idea. Even Wall Street insures its financial betting. Why not do this for guns and shooters?

Insurance people know how to assess risk. Let’s get them involved. They set higher premiums for a sports car owned by teenage male than a middle aged woman driving a Camry. They take into account all kinds of factors, from type of vehicle, to your driving record, the number of accidents you have, teenage drivers in the home, and what neighborhood you live in.

You can get discounts for safety features like air bags and antilock breaks, dead bolts on your door… you get discounts for education/ drivers ed and a good operating record. Let’s figure out how to do the same for guns. I’ll bet the insurance industry could get a handle on this pretty quickly.

I have an old car. Every year to renew my license I have to get a smog check. It’s good to have someone check to be sure the car meets some basic criteria on a regular basis. For guns, we could check to be sure they have not been modified or have safety features removed.

And maybe Chris Rock is right. Bullets could cost $5000 each.

We can ban certain kinds of guns and certain kinds of ammunition clips, but why not start with registration, licensing, and insurance? We can make it cheap to get started — charge just $1 for existing guns and raise the fees to a level commensurate with other licenses and permits.

I pay $104 for my old car registration on an annual basis. I will probably pay $50 for the special smog check to get it renewed. If i had a cat I’d pay $12 for a lifetime license in San Francisco and between $11-52 for a dog (based on neutering and age of owner). My drivers license could cost from $31-66. If I lived in Santa Monica my bike registration would cost $3. Bikes are not licensed in San Francisco, but you have to wear a helmet.

My insurance might run between $950 and $1400 a year for both auto and renters together. I believe people who do risky things (skydiving comes to mind) also pay higher insurance. But you get where I’m going with this.

I grew up in a car culture. California in the 50s and 60s. I couldn’t wait to get my license. I wanted to be a good driver. I took the classes and practiced with my dad. I have a good driving record and I’m proud of it. I have never given up my license, and can’t imagine being without one even if I give up my car. When my dad was old, he stopped driving but he hung on to his license, just in case, and because it was one of his identifiers. It isn’t a perfect metaphor, but I assume gun owners feel similarly. Why not make getting the license a source of pride? And getting the insurance industry to weigh in to help us assess risk.

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Written by phwebnet

December 20, 2012 at 9:46 pm

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