Do The Math

There were a rash of fatal hunting accidents this past weekend, some involving kids: there was a 10-year-old killed in Utah, and a 75-year-old hunting guide in Maryland shot by a 14-year-old,

In Washington, a 31-year-old man was killed by a member of his hunting party (age unknown). In Oregon, a man accidentally shot and killed his own son. Meanwhile an Arkansas hunter was accidentally shot by his hunting partner on Saturday in Oklahoma.

Weekend before last, a “nice young man” from California, age 16, was shot and killed while hunting. There were also hunting accidents in Nevada and Tennessee. So, lots of hunting accidents in America so far and peak hunting season has barely begun.

Many of these incidents happened, not while actually hunting, but simply handling guns: packing them, unpacking them, moving them, etc. The 10-year-old Utah boy was shot when someone was picking up his gun from an ATV. The Nevada tragedy occurred when a man was actually putting his rifle away.

What’s interesting to me is that we aren’t the only country in the world with hunting, nor are we the only country in the world with hunting accidents. In New Zealand this weekend, an 11-year-old was accidentally shot and killed. France just had its first hunting death of the season when a hunter accidentally shot a hiker.

So it doesn’t appear that foreigners are immune to gun accidents — I see stories in the foreign press all the time about accidental shootings. What’s different is the sheer volume of gun accidents in America versus the rest of the world. Of course, the answer is because we have more guns than anyone else. We have enough guns for every man, woman and child in America to be armed. No other Western country has this level of weaponry in the hands of untrained civilians.

It’s simple math. People are flawed. We make mistakes. People with guns make fatal mistakes. If you have guns or are around guns, you have mathematically increased the likelihood that you will be shot. There’s nothing magical about American gunfail. It’s just that we have more guns in more and more places. Our statistical likelihood of being shot is higher than those of people in France or New Zealand or anywhere else.

That’s just simple logic. And with the Tennessee State Legislature virtually ensuring that more and more of us are going to be forced to interact with firearms in their daily lives, even when they don’t want to, they’ve just increased everyone’s risk. What to do? Well, one idea is mandatory liability insurance for all gun owners. It won’t entirely prevent gunfail but it can mitigate some the economic fallout from accidents. And it can provide some actuarial data on gun negligence. Furthermore, people with a lot of claims, and thus a history of negligence, can lose their guns.

I’ve talked about this a lot in the past and the idea has resurfaced in comments; it makes a lot of sense. I shouldn’t be out of pocket for medical or property damage because someone was negligent with their gun. Someone who is routinely negligent shouldn’t be allowed to have them. So why don’t we have this already?

I’ve been told that a main obstacle is that insurance markets are regulated by the states, so the federal government can’t make that requirement (the reason states all require it of drivers is that the Feds tie highway funds to the insurance mandate). But if the Feds can now mandate that I buy health insurance, surely they can require liability insurance for gun owners, right?

Recently wingnutty states have been passing “firearm anti-discrimination” laws. Here’s one from Florida:

Senate Bill 424, a bill that would protect Florida gun owners from being discriminated against by insurance companies, is headed to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk to be signed into law after passing via a 74-44 vote in the state House on Tuesday.

Much to the delight of gun advocacy groups and the NRA, this means that it’s now basically illegal for insurance companies to deny coverage or increase rates for a person who owns a gun.

The bill, cosponsored by Republicans Matt Gaetz in the House and Sen. Tom Lee, says that “unfair discrimination on the basis of gun ownership in the provision of personal lines property or personal lines automobile insurance is a discriminatory insurance practice.”

This means that an insurance company can’t refuse someone a policy, or a policy renewal, based purely on their owning a gun. They can’t cancel a policy or charge extra either.

That’s so cute. Remember when Republicans didn’t like government interfering with private enterprise? Ha ha ha ha!

Liability insurance is how the free market responds to risk. Preventing insurance companies from charging more for a homeowner’s or auto policy because the risk is now greater due to the presence of firearms is clearly interfering with the free market. That Republicans get away with this thanks to some gingoistic rah-rah Murrica Second Amendment bullshit is just hilarious. The stupidity of the modern conservative knows no bounds.

Do the math, fellas. Or wait, maybe you can’t. Maybe that’s not your thing. Poor dears.

10 Comments

Filed under gun control, Guns

10 responses to “Do The Math

  1. CB

    “…weaponry in the hands of untrained civilians.” This is where you nail it. License to operate, registration, competency testing (what is it about ‘clear the chamber’ that these people don’t get?), and liability insurance, just like for automobiles. And, no private sales between individuals without filling out the paperwork. Not one of those items listed prevents anyone from owning firearms. Not a bit.

    A lot of current gun owners would also agree with this, and do, because they can see the blowback on responsible gun owners from those who are irresponsible.

    • what is it about ‘clear the chamber’ that these people don’t get?

      I assume some of this is sheer numbers. If there are 1 million people cleaning their gun every day, that’s 1 million chances to screw up and shoot something (or someone) accidentally. None of us are so perfect that we can do something a million times and not mess it up once, so that means that there are going to be some mistakes every single day. Better training could reduce them some, but the only real solution is to have fewer people carrying guns all the time.

  2. greennotGreen

    But could insurance companies raise rates for everyone in an entire state? After all, if insurance is regulated state-by-state, and if one state has laws that increase risk in that state, why shouldn’t the insurance industry be able to balance that increased risk on the backs of everyone in the state?

    • Duke of Clay

      Yes, this is what will happen. Actuarially the insurance companies will have to spread the added risk of the gun-owners over all homeowners/apartment dwellers in the state.

  3. Jim 'Prup' Benton

    And again, PR, we have a friendly dispute, but just on the timing. I think, judging by the difference in the way guns, shootings, and accidents are being discussed, not just on blogs but in local newspapers and on tv, implies that we may already have reached the Tipping Point, and have passed into the ‘get better’ side. There has been a quantitative change in the amount of anti-gun discussion, a qualitative change in the type of discussion guns are getting, even since last year.

    Remember we — like everyone — are seeing things through our own lenses, and no lens is perfect. We’re political junkies, and we notice far more than the average person the ravings of Republicans and gun loons. We aren’t much like the ‘punditry blimp’ in many ways, but we do share the tendency to assume that ‘leaders speak for their members’ too much — y’know, like how Catholics never have abortions — or even masturbate. But, for what is the first time I can remember, there are Democratic candidates actually fighting for gun control laws, and challenging the ‘cpnventional wisdom’ that the NRA is unbeatable.

    But, while I am not a Marxist, I am enough of a Hegelian to look for the thesis-antithesis-synthesis pattern, and we have seen — and SB, in the blogosphere YOU have been a major force for this — the antithesis growing to where we will have the synthesis, not perfect, not eliminating all gunfails and mass shootings, but a major part of them.

    (Oh, and ‘punditry blimp’ is a long time image of mine that I’m proud of, because pundits write like they are covering an entire season of sports from a blimp, claiming that their ‘distance’ gives them a unique perspective. Of course none of them, not even the ones with cabins ion the left of the right, can agree with anyone eels what these wondrous patterns are that their height gives them a vantage point on — but it does get everybody ‘looking up’ to them, even if it misses all the details and individualities that are what really matters.)

    • As you know, Mr Benton, I’m lock-step with yours and SB’s efforts, and as much as a foreign cynic may dismiss these tragedies as ‘Good enough for Americans’, I know that this is a dreadful situation visited upon you by the economic monsters that walk away with the profits that guns represent.

      What’s more, as much as they play lip service to the sanctity of market forces, they can turn around and diddle the insurance industry to keep this industry from looking at the actuarial realities of too many guns. However, as has been pointed out frequently, the conservative forces bearing on this issue are as flakey as they come, and this reality is situation normal.

    • …we may already have reached the Tipping Point, and have passed into the ‘get better’ side…

      I hope you are right.