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Springville Journal editorial: It’s always sunny in the rich man’s world

SPRINGVILLE — As if the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013 was not enough to get hunters, law officers and other citizens up in arms – so to speak – about their Second Amendment rights, New York Assembly Member Felix Ortiz recently introduced legislation that would require gun-owning New York citizens to maintain at least $1 million in liability insurance on their firearms.

If Bill S2353 becomes law, New York gun owners who do not acquire liability insurance policies will be subject to “immediate revocation” of their registration, license and any other privilege to own a firearm.

The revocation of someone’s rights to own a gun sounds a lot like “infringement,” which the Second Amendment to the Constitution expressly forbids. But the New York Assembly apparently trumps the Constitution.

The newly-proposed bill said that this insurance would be put in place, to cover “any damages resulting from any negligent or willful acts involving the use of such firearm, while it is owned by such person.” People who already own guns would have 30 days to purchase the insurance, or their licenses would be revoked.

So, in other words, the state will be penalizing New Yorkers who dare to own weapons that their government officials are turning their noses up at. Never mind that Americans have been legally and safely possessing these firearms, for hundreds of years.

The $1 million in liability insurance would cost approximately $2,000, per year, or roughly $167, per month. That is more than my family pays for car insurance. Many people struggle to cover their simple, day-to-day costs. This new legislation would essentially remove the option for gun ownership for those who do not have extra cash lying around to hand over to the government, but who would like to continue exercising their Constitutional right to own a gun.

Similar legislation has been introduced in California, Maryland and Massachusetts, but no states currently have laws about this issue.

So what is next? Liability insurance for anything in a home that could cause harm or pain? Kitchen knives are a doozy. I’ve been cut by mine many times, although I’ve never shot myself. What about metal cans? They can be very sharp and will draw blood, if you are not careful.

Baseball bats are used as bludgeoning weapons, by many movie villains. Perhaps we should insure those. Mirrors, windows, china plates and glass cups can break and become little knives that can pierce the skin. Ropes lying around garages and basements are obviously nooses waiting to happen. Book-laden shelves lurk in corners, ready to fall on people. Ladders, leaning against walls, foretell not only bad luck, but also the possibility of nasty falls.

My brother-in-law is a black belt in karate. He could probably do more damage with his hands and feet than the average person could with a firearm. Perhaps he should be required to take liability insurance out on his appendages.

Is this pure paranoia or the government’s back door way to bully and, as Gun Owners of California Executive Director Sam Paredes put it, “price gun owners out of existence?”

I can hear the criminals laughing, now. As the government takes another step in keeping law-abiding citizens from arming themselves, lawbreakers will continue to ignore the rules.

Meanwhile, the rest of us will lose our means to protect ourselves against the real bad guys.

Paredes said he doubted that it is Constitutional to require individuals to purchase liability insurance on their firearms and guaranteed that “they’ll have to address it in court,” if this proposal becomes law.

This type of insurance is already available, although it is not currently required, for gun ownership. Firearm owners who misuse their weapons, are already at risk for lawsuits. As are those who run people over with their cars, stab their neighbors, hit people with baseball bats or throw a punch.

By the way, another proposed bill has money in it, for those who will voluntarily pass along their guns to the government. You get a whole $1,000, to sacrifice one more Constitutional right that may never come back. People often say, “It’s a free country.” Is it really?
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