Why not just charge them?

Lot’s of discussion at MLive on what to be done post-Newtown, and especially in the wake of Wayne LaPierre’s suggestion if stationing armed guards in all our schools. Here’s an alternative: why not simply have all gun owners pony up for insurance. Liability in the event of mass-death. Say we assign $10 mill for each life lost. Pennies on the dollar for gun ownership. This is admittedly, a tongue-in cheek suggestion.  But it was offensive, all the same:

So you are okay with the slaughter of 5 year olds as long as parents get a check for each one killed?

Of course, that’s the logic of our policy right now. Presently we don’t compensate the parents or victims at all. Instead the social cost of massive gun ownership is shifted over to the community at large. In economic terms this is what they call an “negative externality.” With social costs distributed to some one else, we do not have an effective means of allocating the costs for the open ownership gun policy at present. The search for other alternatives to protection (LaPierre’s infamous guns in schools, or the calls for better tracking of the mentally ill) each involve more significant intervention in society, the very opposite of the putative freedom agenda. And given the reluctance to effect a political ban on such weapons, we may as well create economic incentives.

Insurance does that (taxes would, too). This also addresses the social cost gun ownership philosophy. Not only does their possession increase gun deaths, but the advocacy of gun ownership generally naturally leads to a culture where armed violence is considered a means of solving problems, be it of the criminal sort or that generated by mental disturbance. After all, given that numerous studies show that gun deaths vary directly with per capita gun ownership, we might better think of such deaths more as other random and disastrous but quantifiable events — and that is the problem that insurance solves.

So if we cannot ban the guns, at the very least we ought to make gun owners pay for the consequences of this freedom.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s