Massachusetts should require gun insurance – The Boston Globe

Take the example of Robert Crimo III, the alleged Highland Park, Ill., shooter — a red flag to go around. Highland Park police went to his home twice in 2019 — once when Crimo tried to kill himself and when “he said that he will kill everyone.” The second visit was so terrifying that Highland Park police filed a report of “clear and dangerous danger” to the Illinois State Police and confiscated 16 knives, a sword, and a dagger. Additionally, Crimo had a problem with social media. Video created a photo of a heavily armed cartoonist shooting at a school before being killed by police. Despite these red flags, Crimo did not receive a restraining order not to buy a gun. And just after he went to the second house of 2019, the Illinois State Police issued a permit to Crimo to legally purchase the semiautomatic gun that was allegedly used to kill seven and injure many people.

So what happened? How did Crimo get a license less than a year after showing signs of mental illness? The reality is that many red flag laws allow only law enforcement or family members to directly petition the courts to overturn the ban. Between 2019 and 2020, 53 only bans guns it was found in Illinois. Compare that to the 3,112 gun deaths in the state during this period. There is no doubt that red flag laws, if extended, can be part of the public safety measures. However, Highland Park highlights the need to expand our screening process for gun buyers.

Mandatory insurance for gun owners, requiring them to cover all costs associated with gun ownership, would be a major step forward in the Commonwealth to combat gun violence. The “Gun Owner’s Insurance Requirement Act,” sponsored by Representative David Linsky and Senator Michael Barrett, is currently up for debate in the next legislative session.

Legal gun insurance is similar to auto insurance. All 50 states require car owners to purchase car insurance, so if a driver is involved in an accident that damages property or injures or kills another person, the victim will receive compensation for their money and injuries. Additionally, if a driver engages in reckless driving behavior, their fines will increase. If this behavior continues, their wages will go up, and eventually their prices will go down. Similarly, if a gun owner’s gun is used for any illegal crime, they will be held responsible for the cost. In order to have the money to pay for damages to victims, gun owners must purchase insurance. These costs can be determined by insurance companies based on age, the number of guns they own, the type of guns purchased, and past convictions.

Insurance companies in many states offer policies to gun owners who want to voluntarily insure themselves. Because the infrastructure is already in place, it will not be burdensome for insurance companies to look back to determine the appropriate amount of coverage.

Mandatory gun insurance increases the chances that people who shouldn’t own guns won’t get them for two main reasons. First, it eases the burden of screening potential gun owners away from the police and toward insurance companies. The police are focused on fighting crime. Inevitably, overworked officers will not be able to find all the relevant evidence or evaluate it accurately. In contrast, insurance professionals have only one job: to assess the risks of policyholders. Professionals are fully trained and skilled in this type of research. In addition, unlike family and friends who see threats of violence or actions but fail to act – either out of love or ignorance – insurance professionals have the professional motivation to assess the situation properly and respond to these clear flags.

Second, valid gun insurance is a system designed to respond to risk. If the gun owner has a series of red flags that indicate a high risk of injury to the owner, the type of gun, or the number of weapons they have, the insurance company can raise their money and sell it. Insurance companies are strongly encouraged to conduct an accurate accident investigation because failure to do so will result in higher payouts.

Thus, this solution can compensate all victims and prevent, stop, and identify people like Crimo from getting guns.

Deborah Ramirez is a professor of law at Northeastern University School of Law and director of the school’s Center of Law, Equity and Race. Senator Michael Barrett represents the Third Middlesex District and is a cosponsor of Bill S.1537. Representative David Linsky represents the Fifth Middlesex District and is a cosponsor of Bill H.2487. Jacqueline Bohatch and Anna Olsson are law students at Northeastern University School of Law.