Writing at Hot Air, 'Jazz Shaw' pretends to read Megan McArdle's evisceration of proposals to institute some sort of meaningful requirement for gun-owner's liability insurance and comes away imagining she supports the idea. Maybe he was confused by her conclusion:
The legal changes needed to use insurance to make a dent in criminal possession and use--which so often go together--would be enormous, far reaching, and subject to gimlet-eyed review by appellate court. And the very political forces that you are trying to end run would rise up and obstruct at every turn. To put it another way: if you could get support for widespread gun registration, you probably wouldn't bother thinking up ways to use insurers as substitute regulators.
Of course, proponents might say that it doesn't have to be a full solution, only a partial solution. And fair enough. The problem is, it's not clear to me that any law which could actually be enacted would even a partial solution to gun crime. The people who will buy insurance will, by and large, be the people who have assets and social respect to lose by breaking the law . . . which is precisely why they're quite unlikely to commit a gun crime. The people who are most likely to use the guns to a bad end will simply do without.
Mark Kleiman thinks individual liability has flaws but maybe liability can be pushed back to the manufacturer. I read his last paragraph as skeptical even of this:
Now go back to Megan’s piece to read about all the issues that would raise. And then think about how hard it would be for anyone living in a poor African-American neighborhood to buy a gun.
Well, Jazz Shaw probaly will call that an endorsement.
Now, for the legal eagles out there - my murky memory tells me that the trial lawyers had targeted Big Guns for the same treatment as Big Tobacco, with the notion that gun manufacturers had somehow put out a defective or misleading product (guns are dangerous, even fatal?!?). However, Congress legislated that door shut in 2005.
So, if a new Congress created manufacturer's liability, could it possibly apply to guns sold while the 2005 law was in effect? And does the 2005 law protect all guns sold prior to its enactment, or could a new law create manufacturer's liability for all guns sold before 2005 and after enactment of the new law? Depending on how much grandfathering we are talking about, manufacturer's liability may not mean much in a nation with a current stock of weapons exceeding 300 million.
SINCE YOU ASK, AND SINCE I AM LOOKING AT IT: 2012 is nearly in the books and the NY Times sneak-previews 2012 crime statistics, highlighted by a decline in homicides:
Of the 414 murders, 14 deaths from previous years were counted as homicides for the first time, like in the Patz case. In many of these cases, victims of long-ago shootings died of sepsis in hospitals, the police said.
Of the 400 murders in 2012, 223 were gunshot victims, 84 victims were stabbed to death, 43 died of blunt trauma and 11 died of asphyxiation. The majority of the 400 homicides occurred on a Saturday, followed by early Sunday morning. Most occurred at 2 a.m. People were more likely to be killed outside than in. Nearly 70 percent of the victims had prior criminal arrests, the police said.
Domestic-related homicides dropped to 68, from 94 in 2011.
The likelihood of being killed by a stranger was slight. The vast majority of the homicides, Mr. Kelly said, grew out of “disputes” between a victim and killer who knew each other.
The NYPD prepares a detailed homicide report each year. Back in 2011 the most common homicides were young black men shooting each other. Some stats:
Blacks were 23% of the NYC population but 68% of the homicide victims; 38% of all victims were black males aged 16-37; 86% of black male victims aged 16-21 were shot.
On the other side, 59% of suspects were black. 83% of black suspects had a black victim.
Among all suspects, 34% were aged 16-21; 41% were aged 22-37.
And a stat I would like to know more about: 42% of suspects and 38% of victims had prior arrests for drug sales or possession.
An arrest for drug sales is probably serious. However, an arrest for possession might be total BS (e.g., a result of a stop-and-frisk that turns up nothing else) or partial BS (the cops get a 'known' bad guy for whatever they can make stick; think of it as the street equivalent of Al Capone and tax evasion).
Without more detail (and street savvy) I can't look at these NYPD reports and come away confident that "real" criminals make up a big part of the criminal and victim pools. However, their numbers point that way, which suggests some good advice for avoiding homicide - don't get caught up in the drug trade, as either a seller or buyer.
But do let me add: Mayor Bloomberg manages to leaf through these reports and come away convinced that the solution to gun violence is to impose more rules on middle-aged, middle-class gun owners in suburbia and rural America.