Washington Democrats Push Liability Insurance Requirement for Gun Owners

WA Appeals Court Unanimously Upholds Preemption in SAF Lawsuit, iStock-884168778
Washington Democrats are pushing a bill to require gun owners to have liability insurance. (iStock-884168778)

Washington State Senate Democrats are pushing a controversial bill that would require gun owners to obtain liability insurance, and during a hearing before the Senate Law & Justice Committee earlier this week, more than 1,100 people signed up to oppose the measure.

But for some unknown reason, the bill was apparently pulled from the Executive Session schedule for Tuesday, according to an update from activists watching this legislation closely.

According to the Daily Olympian, another 776 people signed up in support of Senate Bill 5963, sponsored by Sen. Patty Kuderer. She is joined by fellow Democrat Sens. Javier Valdez, Sam Hunt, Liz Lovelett, T’wina Nobles, Jamie Pedersen, Derek Stanford, Yasmin Trudeau, Lisa Wellman, and Claire Wilson.

In remarks to the committee, Kuderer asserted there is “Ample historic precedent including the Second Amendment text itself” which “supports the argument that gun owner liability insurance does not implicate the Second Amendment right. The text of the Second Amendment addresses the right to ‘keep and bear arms’ which in effect means keeping a gun in your home or on your person. The act of insuring that gun against unintentional negligent firing is an entirely different kind of activity.”

The Second Amendment text reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Nothing in there about insurance, but there is something about infringements.

During her remarks, Kuderer asserted that firearms-related deaths and injuries cost Washington taxpayers at least $169 million annually. She said the legislation would reduce the cost, and “reallocate” costs of such injuries “without compromising any Second Amendment rights.”

Aiobheann Cline, representing the National Rifle Association, told the committee the bill “is another unconstitutional attempt to regulate the Second Amendment out of existence” by making housing unobtainable due to the additional cost of such insurance.

Dan Mitchell, owner of the Sporting Systems gun store in Vancouver, Washington, reminded the committee that when gun owner liability insurance programs were previously offered in the state, the Insurance Commissioner ruled them illegal. Now, lawmakers want to make such insurance mandatory. He also asserted the insurance requirement would be unconstitutional.

And Amanda McKinney, a Yakima County commissioner, told the committee, “There is currently no major insurance carrier — regional, national or otherwise — who offers this insurance coverage for gun liability specifically.”

McKinney said something else which she said reflected a “common theme” among some lawmakers who support the gun control measure.

“If you don’t have a behavior that we agree with, then we’ll fine you, put a tax on you, and charge you until that behavior meets the one that we expect,” she said, observing that this puts a cost on the exercise of a right.

Another organization, the Conservative Ladies of Washington, also opposes the measure and put out an alert to its members on Monday.

A provision in the bill which has raised alarms is the requirement that surplus line brokers and insurance producers licensed to do business in Washington will be required to ask whether any of the “named insureds” own a firearm, and whether the gun or guns are “securely stored.” Kuderer insisted during testimony that this would not result in gun registration.

SB 5963 is one of several gun control measures being considered by the Democrat-controlled Legislature. Another which is raising alarms is House Bill 2238, a short bill, running just over two pages, but it provides more evidence that Washington’s far-left Democrats have decided that gun rights can actually be regulated like privileges. The measure is sponsored by a familiar group of House Democrats. They are Reps. Liz Berry, Jessica Bateman, Lauren Davis, Beth Doglio, Davina Duerr, Mary Fosse, Roger Goodman, Shelley Kloba, Nicole Macri, Gerry Pollet, Alex Ramel, Julia Reed, Kristine Reeves, Sharon Tomiko Santos, and My-Linh Thai. These names show up on several gun control measures now under consideration in the House.

About Dave Workman

Dave Workman is a senior editor at TheGunMag.com and Liberty Park Press, author of multiple books on the Right to Keep & Bear Arms, and formerly an NRA-certified firearms instructor.

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