Americans repeatedly endure the unlawful discharge of firearms and the ensuing devastation with increasing regularity. Many occurred when someone other than the registered owner gains access to weapons outside of the methods prescribed by federal or state laws.
One action available to law enforcement and legislators to reduce this type of crime consists of states requiring owners of weapons to ensure their security in order to prevent unauthorized access. A wide variety of implements exist for this purpose such as safes and trigger locks.
Similar to states requiring automobile insurance, the cost of insuring weapon security depends on the age of owner, prior military service, completion of a weapons training course, whether minors live in the home, what method is used to secure and the type of weapons covered. The more secure the weapon, the lower the cost of the insurance. Verification of security rests with the insurance company, not government inspections.
Once enacted, if the insurance industry finds itself paying out (to offset the victims’ medical or burial costs) on multiple claims (possibly from a single event) then the insurance industry itself becomes a willing partner with law enforcement and legislators alike to demand a change to the status quo.
The consequences of keeping unsecured weapons are already considered in the recent Nevada incident. If someone uses another’s weapon to commit a crime, prosecutors possess the right to charge the legal owner with crimes, such as aiding and abetting, conspiracy or simply negligence. Those charges are commensurate with the crimes committed by those who obtained the weapon.
One method that federal lawmakers now have to encourage states legislatures to enact weapon security laws is through the dispersion of Homeland Security funds, perhaps a bonus to states that require weapon security.
J. CHRIS HENRY