What about gun owner liability insurance?

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On 1/27/2022, San Jose, CA, became the first city to approve the Gun Harm Reduction Ordinances, despite opposition from gun owners who say the law would violate their Second Amendment rights. The push for liability insurance and an annual fee was introduced by San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo (D) after a May 2021 shooting at a light-rail facility that killed nine people and the gunman, who took his own life.

The Light-Rail tragedy was committed by a disgruntled and highly unstable employee with a long history of conflict with his employer and fellow employee’s.  Whatever the motivation, there were many red flags that were never acted upon.  Mental health should therefore take center stage in this tragic incident, and not a “fee’s and insurance” mandate.

The city council decided in a 10-to-1 vote that gun owners would be required to purchase liability insurance through their homeowner’s or renter’s insurance so that the plan would cover everyone in their household.

It is the “Liability Insurance” component that exposes the bureaucracy’s ignorance and naivete.  The Insurance companies offer liability coverage to homeowners, renters, auto owners, and business owners.  This liability coverage extends to losses that are the insured’s, or a member of the insured’s household’s fault.  These losses are covered as long as they meet the Insurance company’s criteria:

Generally, bodily injury and losses are not covered if the homeowner was negligent, disregarded safety or acted criminally. 

  • Having a firearm loaded and accessible to minors in the house.
  • Failure to lock firearms away or lock them with trigger guards.
  • Not separating firearms from their ammunition.
  • Shooting recklessly or gunplay.

These are examples where an Insurance company may not cover bodily or personal injury. 

Bodily injury by a firearm while committing a crime will not be covered by homeowner’s liability.  Any intentional act or intentional failure to act by any insured, whether a criminal act or otherwise, where resulting injury or damage would be an objectively probable consequence, even if not subjectively intended or expected by any insured. This exclusion applies whether or not:

  • Any insured mistakenly believes he or she has the right to engage in certain conduct;
  • The injury or damage is sustained by persons or property not intended or expected by any insured;
  • The injury or damage is different or greater or of a different quality than that intended or expected;
  • Any insured did not understand that injury or damage may result;
  • Any insured knew the intentional act or failure to act was A violation of any penal law, whether or not any insured is actually charged with or convicted of a crime;
  • Any insured was under the influence of any alcohol or narcotic;
  • Any insured was insane; or any insured is deemed not to have had the mental omission causing injury or damage. capacity to form the legal intent to commit the act or damage.

For purposes of this exclusion, a plea of guilty, no contest, or true in a criminal proceeding, which involves the same acts or activities which are the basis of a claim for damages against any insured, shall conclusively bar any bodily injury, property damage or personal injury which arises or results from or caused by such acts or activities.

In conclusion, if the light-rail killer had owned a homeowner or rental policy, neither the victims nor the city would be able to collect damages because of the damages were the result of the criminal conduct.  The most popular liability insurance options for gun owners are USCCA, My NRA’s Insurance Carry Guard Insurance and The Second Call Defense.  These require membership and monthly dues in addition to a monthly premium.  Coverage max’s out at $1.5M, and probably won’t cover criminal or negligent incidents.

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