While the news media is suffering from tunnel vision over the Stimulus/Spending bill, Representative Kenneth Dunkin, an Illinois Democrat from the 5th District, is zeroing in on gun owners in the state. Rep. Dunkin, who incidentally sits on the Insurance Committee for the state of Illinois, has sponsored the following bill:
Statutes Amended In Order of Appearance
Synopsis As Introduced
Amends the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act. Provides that any person who owns a firearm in this State shall maintain a policy of liability insurance in the amount of at least $1,000,000 specifically covering any damages resulting from negligent or willful acts involving the use of such firearm while it is owned by such person. Provides that a person shall be deemed the owner of a firearm after the firearm is lost or stolen until such loss or theft is reported to the police department or sheriff of the jurisdiction in which the owner resides. Provides that the Department of State Police shall revoke and seize a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card previously issued under this Act if the Department finds that the person to whom such card was issued possesses or acquires a firearm and does not submit evidence to the Department of State Police that he or she has been issued in his or her name a liability insurance policy in the amount of at least $1,000,000 specifically covering any damages resulting from negligent or willful acts involving the use of such firearm while it is owned by such person. Effective January 1, 2010.
The bill has garnered a lot of attention across the country, as gun owners and supporters of the second amendment say the passage of such a bill in Illinois would set a precedent for other state governments and eventually, the federal government. The fact that the bill was introduced in President Obama’s home state simply enhances the fear that the path from Illinois to the White House is indeed a short one.
The crux of the bill is simply that if you own a firearm, you will be required to maintain a ONE MILLION DOLLAR liability insurance policy which basically will benefit anyone you harm with it. On the surface, this sounds fair if you’re a hunter whose rifle accidentally discharges into your hunting buddy in the woods. But that’s not the target of the bill. The bill would also leave a gunowner liable to intruders into their home – yes, the criminal breaking into your home could feel free to sue you for $1,000,000. It would also include the discharge of a fire arm in the instant a store owner defends his life and property from robbers.
But perhaps the most debatable merit of the bill is this. A “gunowner”, by law, is a citizen who owns a registered gun. The bill does not address the gang members and drug dealers, thieves and serial killers who also own fire arms that are NOT registered. So, in essence, if you own a registered gun and cannot afford to maintain a million dollar liability policy, you may not own that firearm. If you, however, are one of the “bad guys” and own an arsenal of unregistered fire arms, you may keep them without the same liability, because the law cannot identify you.
It seems quite reasonable that an Illinois Representative who sits on the state insurance committee would introduce such a bill. It would be a windfall for insurance companies who, I suspect, have lobbied Mr. Dunkin with the finesse of professionals. And a wallet to match.
Sound off – where do you stand on this issue? Are you a gun owner, and do you think you should be forced to carry such an insurance policy when the crimimals are virtually exempt?