How the right could lose its way on guns

In Florida earlier this year, Republican majorities in both houses passed an NRA-backed bill that prohibited private insurers “from denying coverage or increasing rates based on customers owning guns or ammunition.” Demonstrating a comprehensive inability to grasp the nature of individual rights, state representative Matt Gaetz told the Tampa Bay Tribune in April that “Floridians have a constitutional right to bear arms,” and that, in consequence, “even one case of insurers taking action because of gun ownership is ‘too much.’” “How much discrimination based on the exercise of a constitutional right is tolerable?” Gaetz asked. Oh dear…

There is, let us be clear, nothing “conservative” about this idea, which has at its root the dangerous presumption that Americans are not truly able to enjoy their rights unless they are protected from the consequences of their exercise. Contrary to their architects’ exhortations, moreover, such regulations do nothing whatsoever to expand the right to keep and bear arms. Indeed, they have nothing to do with “rights” at all. “Insurance,” per Investopedia, is “a form of risk management in which the insured transfers the cost of potential loss to another entity in exchange for monetary compensation known as the premium.” Depending as they do on the nature of the risk that that the provider is being asked to mitigate, those premiums will vary wildly, Life-insurance coverage for a relatively sedentary writer such as myself will, naturally, cost less than life insurance would have cost for Evel Knievel. Auto insurance for a 23-year-old male with a Ferrari and two DUIs will be more costly than it will for a well-behaved 55-year-old woman who drives a Toyota Camry. It’s no different for firearms, and nor is there a case for making it so. If the actuarial evidence reveals that homes with firearms are riskier than homes without, premiums paid by gun owners should reflect that fact. The Bill of Rights exists to protects the citizenry’s capacity to act without government sanction. It does not guarantee immunity from reality.