Mandatory liability insurance for gun owners?

Posted on: August 24, 2016 | Bob Frye | Comments

Range photoGun owners would be required to have liability insurance under a proposal being pushed by one lawmaker.

It’s not officially been introduced as a bill yet, and there’s been no word on if or when it might be.

But gun owners are riled up anyway.

State Rep. Ed Gainey, an Allegheny County Democrat, recently began circulating for co-sponsors a proposal that would require gun owners to secure liability insurance.

According to a memo sent to other lawmakers, Gainey wants “a freestanding insurance bill that requires every gun owner in Pennsylvania to purchase firearm liability insurance for each firearm in order to decrease gun-crime rates and to protect the Second Amendment and the self-defense rights of responsible firearm owners in Pennsylvania.”

Gun owners would be required to have at least $500,000 in liability coverage, $50,000 in criminal defense protection and $5,000 for mental health services – per firearm.

Why is such insurance necessary?

Gainey wrote “no one has a doubt” that firearms can be dangerous.

“Some gun owners might already have a home insurance policy, but it only provides gun owners with small coverage in property damage and personal injury. Considering the huge amount of medical and legal costs by each gun incident, adequate liability coverage would ensure that the victims of gun violence are fairly compensated when crimes or accidents occur,” he said.

Only responsible gun owners – something that’s not defined — could buy insurance. Failing to do so “will carry a graduated fine structure as a penalty,” Gainey said in his memo. Fines would range from $500 to $2,000.

Gainey’s idea has generated a lot of talk, all of it negative, on pro-gun message boards, though he says it does not “impinge on, but rather protects” second amendment rights.

Bob Frye is the editor. Reach him at 412-838-5148 or See other stories, blogs, videos and more at

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