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Firearm Keys & Liability

by Tim Isbell  posted January 2015

#smartguns, #2ndamendment

I posted a webpage about Firearms Insurance back in April of 2013. Not much has happened since then, other than more people getting needlessly killed by guns. So I'm revisiting the Firearms topic by sharing this CNN article: The Best Way to Respect Guns by Philip Cook and Kristen Goss.

The most interesting part of the CNN article (to me, at least) is the requirement to make all guns "smart" guns, meaning they cannot fire without the presence of a "key." This can be a relatively conventional key, or an electronic version where the owner wears some sort of electronics that unlocks the gun. The owner, of course, can give the key to someone else. Joel Askey, my partner in the 2013 post, reminded me that the logical follow-on is to make the owner an accomplice in any crime committed with his/her gun, unless the owner previously declared the transfer or loss of the gun and worked with law enforcement to recover it.

The smart gun concept is technically practical, indeed examples now exist. And treating the gun owner as an accomplice seems sensible. However, I expect gun proponents to resist the requirement that all guns be smart on the grounds that this means that someone somewhere might use this to build a unified registry of gun owners. This was their core objection to the 2013 post (insuring guns like automobiles implies that to insure a gun an insurance company would have a registry of gun owners). The laws on what kinds of data can be taken at the time of purchasing a gun varies from state to state, but in all cases makes it practically impossible to build a unified registry of all gun purchases. And background checks done in the process of selling a gun must be destroyed within a day or two - by law, believe it or not. And, of course, no records need be kept for private gun sales. Gun proponents have so far blocked the path of any meaningful gun registry. For details of these laws prohibiting the construction of a gun registry, click here.

Sooner or later I expect the population will demand a unified gun registry, and demand that guns have keys, and that gun owners will be treated as accomplices when their gun is used in a crime. The sooner the better. If you are one of these people, contact your elected officials and tell them so.

In My Humble Opinion,

Tim Isbell