Following San Jose’s lead, the California Senate is considering legislation to require all gun owners to carry liability insurance to own a gun.
Two state senators last week introduced amended legislation to require such insurance for the negligent or accidental discharge of a gun.
If SB 8 becomes law, California would be the first state in the nation to enact such a law.
San Jose has a gun insurance law, the first such law in the nation. SB 8 will be modeled after San Jose law, which went into effect at the beginning of this year.
The amended Senate Bill 8 was introduced by Sens. Nancy Skinner, D-Oakland and Catherine Blakespear, D-Encinitas, following the mass shootings across the state in January.
“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,” Skinner said in a statement.
Skinner added, “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.”
Statewide, 31 people have died this month in mass shootings that have occurred in Oakland, Half Moon Bay, Monterey Park and Goshen, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which tracks the numbers. Twenty-four more people were injured in those shootings, according to the same source.
“This bill is a commonsense approach to improve community safety,” Blakespear said. “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,” he said. “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.”
The state plan would be like car insurance, he said. Gun owners would be civilly liable for property damage, injury or death caused by their gun. Gun owners would also have to have proof they own the gun and keep that proof with them. If asked by police, a gun owner would have to show the officer proof of insurance.
Blakespear introduced a version of SB 8 last year. The latest version of SB 8 will be like last year's SB 505, which was crafted by Skinner. Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada Flintridge, will also be a principal author of the latest version of SB 8.