Senators Blakespear and Skinner Announce New Bill Requiring Gun Owners to Have Insurance
State Senators Catherine Blakespear, D-Encinitas, and Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, today announced new legislation, SB 8, that would require California gun owners to obtain liability insurance for the negligent or accidental use of their firearms. If enacted, the bill would make California the first state in the nation to adopt such legislation.
The new legislation follows the recent mass shootings in Monterey Park, Half Moon Bay, Goshen, Oakland, and other California communities.
“This bill is a commonsense approach to improve community safety. Under current laws, gun violence victims and society at large are the ones who suffer the cost of gun violence. This needs to change. Firearms are similar to cars in that they are inherently dangerous and are in wide circulation. If a car accidentally causes injury to a person or property, the insurance policy will compensate the victim. The same approach should apply to injuries caused by guns,” said Senator Blakespear.
“Victims of gun violence and their families suffer severe harm — economic, mental and physical — but have little to no recourse to be compensated for that harm. Insurance is the method our society uses to compensate those harmed by, for example, car accidents, medical malpractice, or faulty consumer products. Requiring gun owners to carry liability insurance puts the burden where it should be — on the gun owner,” said Senator Skinner.
January is already the deadliest month for mass shootings in California in at least a decade. To date, 27 people have been killed in five mass shootings in January, and another 20 have been injured.
The language of SB 8 will be modeled after the City of San Jose’s gun insurance law, the first of its kind in the country. That law went into effect on Jan. 1. The state of New York has also considered gun insurance legislation. Senator Blakespear and Senator Skinner’s bill is to be amended into SB 8, which was introduced late last year by Senator Blakespear. The legislation will also be similar to a bill, SB 505, that Senator Skinner introduced last year.
Senator Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge, will be joining as a principal co-author of SB 8.
In the past decade, gun deaths have soared more than 80% nationwide. And despite the recent spate of mass shootings in California, research shows that gun control laws are effective. California has some of the toughest gun control laws in the country, and since 2005, gun deaths have declined in our state by 10%. By contrast, Texas and Florida have some of the weakest gun laws in the nation, and their gun deaths have shot up 28% and 37%, respectively, during the same period. Polls and surveys have also shown more than 80% of Americans support tougher gun safety legislation.
Under SB 8, gun insurance in California would be similar to car insurance. Gun owners would:
- Be held civilly liable for property damage, injury, or death resulting from the use of their firearms
- Have to obtain liability insurance that covers losses or damages resulting from negligent or accidental use of their firearm, including property, damage, injury or death
- Have to obtain proof of gun insurance, keep that proof with their firearm, and produce it when asked by a peace officer during the course of a lawful detainment.
“Gun violence costs our country over $280 billion a year. SB 8 will ensure that gun owners — not victims and their families — shoulder their fair share of that burden,” Senator Skinner added.
Sen. Catherine Blakespear represents the 38th Senate District, and Sen. Nancy Skinner represents the 9th Senate District.