California Legislator Introduces Bill Requiring Gun Owners To Have Liability Insurance
Gun and Bullets - stock photo Steve Prezant via Getty Images
Steve Prezant via Getty Images

On Thursday, a California legislator introduced a measure that would make gun owners get liability insurance for certain use of their weapons.

State Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) is introducing the measure, which is being changed into SB 505, a bill that had been brought forward by a different senator on a separate topic. If California makes it into law, it would be the first state in the country to put into effect such a measure.

“Guns kill more people than cars,” Skinner said, according to KTVU. “Yet gun owners are not required to carry liability insurance like car owners must. Why should taxpayers, survivors, families, employers, and communities bear the $280 billion annual cost of gun violence? It’s time for gun owners to shoulder their fair share.”

The measure would make it so that gun insurance is like car insurance, where a person would be civilly liable for something happening because of the use of their weapons.

According to KTVU, Skinner’s team said that the intent of the bill is to make owning a gun in California more expensive due to extra costs from insurance, and make necessary additional safety items if owners want to have a less expensive payment. 

“When a gun owner calls their insurer to say, ‘Look, I need liability insurance now,’ the insurer is going to say, ‘Where do you keep your guns,’” Skinner said.

The gun owner will pay less for insurance if they are able to show an insurance company the gun is in a safe location.

“That’s just going to increase safety and lessen gun violence,” Skinner claimed.

The most recent text of SB 505 reads, “A person who owns a firearm shall be strictly civilly liable for each incidence of property damage, bodily injury, or death resulting from the use of their firearm.”

A gun owner would need to have liability insurance “specifically covering losses or damages resulting from any negligent or accidental use of that firearm, including, but not limited to, death, injury, or property damage.”

The gun owner must also keep proof of the insurance where the weapon is being stored, and must “carry such evidence whenever the firearm is being transported or otherwise possessed outside the place where it is normally stored.”

If requested, according to the current bill, an owner must show the proof of the insurance to a peace officer. The bill also notes that a peace officer cannot detain someone only to figure out if they are in compliance, but they can ask for evidence of the insurance “when otherwise lawfully detaining a person who is in possession of a firearm, or lawfully detaining a person in a location where the person keeps a firearm stored.”

Earlier this year, San Jose, California, was the first city in the country to agree to a law making all gun owners pay a fee and have liability insurance. The city was later sued by two gun rights groups in California over the requirement for gun owners to buy the liability insurance.

After the recent horrific mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, the California Senate has moved on specific gun control measures, and Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom has promised to take action on such legislation.

Last month, the state senate passed a measure based off of Texas’ pro-life law regarding guns in the Golden State.

SB 1327 allows for private citizens to sue those who make or sell specific illegal weapons, including ones that are not traceable, specific gun parts, and defined assault weapons. 

The bill is modeled after a Texas pro-life law that bans abortions after fetal cardiac activity can be detected, which is typically around six weeks of pregnancy. The Texas law allows for the private enforcement by citizens through lawsuits.

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