John Wasik

Why gun insurance should be mandatory

Feb 15, 2011 17:44 UTC

MEXICO/It’s been over a month since the Arizona shootings rocked our nation’s soul and Congress still has yet to address gun control. What gives? Egypt is no doubt at the forefront for Obama, but Congress is alarmingly quiet on the issue. Is it that a Supreme Court ruling last year and the power of the National Rifle Association are still unmovable obstacles to real reform? Only New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg seems to be beating the drum for this serious issue.

There might be a way to reduce the incidence of gun violence if viewed through the unique lens of risk management: Require both gun buyers and sellers to purchase liability insurance.

Before you get up in arms (I mean this literally) about my views on the Second Amendment, I want to be clear: I’m not against people owning guns, hunters or the right to bear them. I’ve shot guns and enjoyed skeet and target shooting enroute to becoming an Eagle Scout. My father owned guns and kept them in the house when I was growing up. He encouraged me to learn how to use pistols and rifles. I’m well schooled in gun safety.

In certain cases, though — such as a deranged adult, a teenage gang banger or a domestic violence perpetrator — guns should not be easily accessed. Unfortunately, there’s no way we can keep guns away from the most violence-prone through background checks. And we have no effective ways of gauging whether the mentally ill or substance abusers will turn violent.

Instead, the mandatory purchase of liability insurance would obey commonly accepted actuarial rules of risk-based pricing. In common English that means the people judged by objective industry research to be most likely to commit a gun crime will pay the highest premiums. What about those who use “straw buyers” or private sellers? Make all gun sellers purchase insurance.

Four ways to ensure the Fed’s stimulus will work

Nov 12, 2010 18:27 UTC

By John Wasik
The opinions expressed are the author’s own.

The Federal Reserve can buy all the US Treasury bonds it wants, but it won’t do much other than make corporate treasurers waggily over being able to borrow at incredibly low rates.

As a last-ditch effort to stimulate the US economy, the Fed’s $600 billion initial purchase of US debt, also known as “QE2,” could be better spent directly helping Americans and easing the housing crisis.

Part of the problem is not that interest rates aren’t low enough — short-term rates are practically zero — it’s that there’s little demand because nobody is getting financially ahead through employment, homeownership or 401(k)s. There’s no sense in the middle class of a “wealth effect.” Fear is ruling now. So here are some proven approaches that might help: