St. John, The Virgin Islands
ALL YOU REALLY NEED IS A SHOTGUN,
TWO SHELLS, AND INSURANCE, HUH?
The ongoing gun debate had two new elements added to the mix
this past week. Vice President Joe Biden
suggested that a shotgun was all any individual needed for self-protection. And
several states proposed legislation that would to require gun owner’s insurance
for anyone possessing a firearm. Do
either of these proposals make sense?
Here is what the Vice President suggested in a Town Hall
meeting sponsored by Parents Magazine: “If there are bad guys on the
property, walk out on the balcony and fire a couple blasts from their
double-barrel shotgun. You don't need 30 rounds to protect yourself," he
adds, “and a shotgun's easier to aim than an assault-style rifle. Plus, two
shotgun blasts should scare off most intruders,” Biden says.
right? Maybe, maybe not. Let me share a personal experience. Back in the 1970s, I lived out in the country
on a long gravel road in a rural part of Northeast Louisiana. The closest law-enforcement station was 30
miles away, and there were no neighbors close by.
home alone, one evening, and it was little after midnight when I thought I saw
a faint flickering of light the through the trees. I got out of bed, and went out on the porch (as
the Vice President suggested) for better view, and a yes, I could see several
lights on my property, about 100 yards away.
I stood there, watching for a few minutes. Then the lights disappeared. I called the local sheriff’s office, knowing
that it would be a good while before the deputy could be on the scene. Were they
approaching the house? I had no idea. But
not wanting to be on the defensive in my own home, I decided to go outside.
a rifle and a 10 round clip, a semi automatic
9mm pistol, and a spotlight, I slipped out
the back door, made a wide circle from the back of my house, and made a rear
approach to the area I thought the lights had come from. Two trucks were parked side by side, and I
could hear low voices.
anchored the spotlight on a tree limb, and reeled out the cord to a spot some
twenty yards away. I didn’t want to be
near the light if shots were fired.
After a few deep breaths, I flipped on the light, fired four shots into
the air, and yelled a stream of obscenities.
The two trucks immediately backed up and hightailed off my
later, local Sheriff Buddy Schiele made it to the house and told me that his deputies
had stopped the two trucks with four hunters who were illegally hunting deer at
night. They had parked on my property, apparently
with plans to walk over an adjoining levee in hopes of finding a deer. No harm done, but until that moment, I had no
way of knowing whether these were bungling trespassers, or bad guys with
point of my story? A shotgun with two
shells would certainly not ward of four potential thugs who might have been
after more than a deer. I would have been put at great personal risk with just
the shotgun. No Mr. Vice President, you
need more in a rural setting when you have only yourself to put up any defense.
the proposal to force every gun owner to buy liability insurance? After all, if you drive a car, you are
required by every state in the U.S. to have liability insurance. So, if drivers have to have auto insurance,
why shouldn’t gun owners have to have gun owner’s insurance?
of all, courts nationwide have determined that driving is a privilege. And not a
(second amendment) right
by gun owners. A driver is generally on
a public highway, built with taxpayer funds, and the “rules of the road”
require liability insurance. It should
be pointed out that a driver is not required to have either a driver’s license
or insurance if the vehicle is driven on private property. I taught my kids and assorted nieces and
nephews to drive at our family camp in rural Louisiana, where they could
practice on dirt roads. No license or
on my experience as a former Louisiana insurance commissioner, I can also tell
readers that the cost of such proposed gun liability insurance would not come
cheap. New York is presently considering
in their legislature a proposal to require every gun owner to have a minimum of
$1 million in liability coverage. I have
not sat down with insurance actuaries to figure out specifically what the
premium would be, but I would estimate that a gun-owner is looking at a minimum
of $2000 a year to pay for such insurance.
The insurance premium could be significantly more for someone living in the
inner city. Such a cost would price the
ownership of a gun outside the reach of the average citizen.
the activity to be insured is considered a privilege, then there is no
requirement or a "right" to insure any object or undertaking. I did not have to insure my house, but it
just makes good financial sense to do so.
There is no requirement that an individual have life insurance. One makes
such a choice to protect their loved ones when they die. Many people have general liability insurance
coverage on any activity that might subject them to a lawsuit. That would include protection against a
lawsuit involving a gun accident. But purchasing such insurance is not
mandatory. It’s a choice.
months to come, numerous ideas will be floated in an effort to regulate gun ownership.
Certainly there are some people who should not be in the possession of a
gun. But allowing only two shotgun
shells, and requiring mandatory gun insurance are not reasonable, much less
practical, limitations that should be placed on law-abiding citizens. The issue is not about hunting. In the face
of violent criminal threat, your weapon and your wits may be all you have to
“Democracy is two wolfs and a
lamb voting on what to have for lunch.
Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.”
Benjamin Franklin, 1759
Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout
the nation and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns
and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com
. You can also hear Jim’s
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