Talking Points Memo yesterday passed along another Responsible Gun Owner Fail:
An Orlando, Fla. man accidentally discharged a gun on Friday, first striking a 12-year-old girl in a moving car then himself immediately after, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Ventura Santos Mateo, 60, was in his garage teaching a friend how to clean his gun….
Investigators said he was holding a Sig Sauer pistol above his waist when the weapon discharged …
A police report said he won’t be charged
When I learned how to shoot, I was taught the following three things:
- Only point a weapon at something or someone that you intend to kill
- Always assume a weapon is loaded, and the safety is off.
- You are always responsible for your weapon until the weapon is in the armory’s gun safe.
Can we incorporate these basic assumptions into civil law where the assumption is that any discharge (intentional or accidental) is the responsibility of the owner of the weapon and therefore the owner is liable for whatever damage a bullet fired from his weapon causes. Liability would follow even stolen weapons if reasonable efforts to secure the weapon were not made. Storing a rifle in an unlocked garage would be defined as negligent behavior. Storing a rifle in a locked gun safe which was then blowtorched open to steal the contents of the gun safe would be considered reasonable precautions and wipe away liability.
There have been attempts to regulate firearms as a consumer protection issue, but the NRA is too strong. This proposal moves responsibility down the chain to the individual owner instead of the manufacturer.
The rational response of creating the assumption that the weapon owner is liable absent extraordinary cirucmstances instead of the current assumption that shit happens is for responsible owners to buy insurance to cover their liability. Speaking as an insurance company bureaucrat, I would assume insurance companies would offer good rates to individuals who own longarms instead of handguns, who have a gun safe, who have trigger locks, who have gone to safety classes and who have otherwise demonstrated that they actually are reasonably likely to be safe.
Individuals who think “tactical” mastabatory fantasies are reality and believe that everyone should have a loaded pistol in their unlocked night stand even if they have two pre-kindergarteners in the house would probably be rated as high risk for negligent discharge. Individuals who have more weapons than fingers would probably be rated as risky. Individuals who have a history of accidental discharge would be rated as risky.
I’m not a fan of using liberterianish policy making as a first best choice, but my political judgement is that this type of regulation is the only viable away forward right now. And going back to my health policy wonkery, reducing gun woundings means lower trauma costs, and lower recovery costs to cover.