The Washington D.C. city council is considering beefing up what are already some of the country’s toughest gun laws.
Democratic councilmember Mary Cheh introduced a bill today that would require all gun purchasers to buy a $250,000 liability policy with their new gun. The bill, titled B20-170, says the insurance money would be used to compensate victims of gun violence in the city, including negligent and intentional acts in which a gun is used for reasons other than self-defense.
“I don’t mean it to be a centrifuge as a ban,” Cheh said. “I want it to really be insurance… (guns) are instrumentalities that, if mishandled or allow others access or mishandling, can cause great harm.”
No state or city in the nation currently has a gun insurance mandate, though several states are considering legislation similar to the one in D.C.
While Cheh is looking to gather supporters for the bill, she won’t be getting an endorsement from the D.C. mayoral office. According to RT.com, Mayor Vincent Gray released a statement saying that he “is not convinced that there is currently a persuasive argument to support the need for insurance for firearms in the home.”
Council Charimen Phil Mendelson, responsible for many of the cities gun laws, also has concerns about the bill.
“The fact that it’s uncharted territory begs the question: Is there really a need here, or does this simply have the effect of increasing the burden of gun ownership in the name of good intentions?” Mendelson said.
Although Mendelson and Gray don’t support the policy at this time, the bill could still gain some traction. The D.C. council consists of 13 members. 11 of the members are Democrats and the other two are left-leaning independents, making the city an ideal place to institute Democratic policies.
Three gun-owning D.C. residents spoke at the bill’s hearing today, and all three people testified against the bill.
“What induces me to take care with my firearm is prison,” said Chris Zarconi, one of the testifying residents. “It’s not insurance.”