Gun Malpractice Insurance

In response to my recent article on “gun freedom”, I received several disapproving letters from people with a “pro-gun” attitude. Most of their arguments centered on the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and the taken-for-granted assumption that having a gun close at hand would always offer them greater protection. Another pro-gun argument is that gun owners are prepared to “defend freedom” and the “constitution” at a moment’s notice in the event of some attack, invasion or national catastrophe — so long as they haven’t been “disarmed” in advance by “gun control.”

The “defend freedom” argument is laughable. Gun owners, as an organized political group, have been invisible in the defense of freedom in the U.S., and they have had many opportunities to do so, from defending civil rights in the 1960s right up to today: fighting against the Patriot Act, fighting to end the Iraq and Afghan-Pakistan wars, fighting to stop the ongoing “renditions,” fighting to close down U.S. military torture prisons like at Guantanamo, fighting to deconstruct the prison-industrial system and black confinement gulag. You can look in any direction today and find a freedom that needs defending immediately. The gun owner PACs have only shown an interest in defending their own freedom to play with their guns, regardless.

However, one pro-gun argument I received was mildly creative, and deserves a response. The argument states that 120,000 (120K) accidental deaths occur every year because of mistakes by some of the 700,000 (700K) U.S. medical doctors. This is a ratio of medical accident deaths per doctor of 1/5.83, which we can round to 1/6. So, for every 6 U.S. doctors there is one medical-accident death per year. However, for 80,000,000 (80M) gun owners (in a total U.S. population of 311.9M) there are only 1500 accidental gun deaths a year, or one per 53.3K gun owners, annually. The claim is then made that “statistically, doctors are approximately 9,000 times more dangerous than gun owners.”

I guess this proves you should quit going to the doctor (and taking any prescriptions, which might just poison you), and you had better pack a gun. That way you can be sure that any gun accident occurring near you happens to somebody else (since you’ll be doing the pointing), and you can also protect yourself by shooting any doctor that comes too close.

This silly comparison of (and obvious joke on) iatrogenic and gun-caused accidental deaths does suggestion one idea, which is amplified in what follows: gun malpractice insurance.

Consider the following data:

75.7K non-fatal gunshot injuries per year in the U.S., of which:
52.5K are deliberate,
23.2K are accidental (statistics for 2000, from the US-CDC);

16K homicides/year in the U.S., of which:
9K by hand guns,
2K by other guns
(11K for gun homicides, total),
2K by knives,
2K by other methods,
1K by blunt objects;

17K suicides/year by guns (2004).

So, about 28K gun-deaths/year in the U.S.

For 311.9M people (U.S. population), this works out to:

gun homicides/person (or, probability of being murdered by a gun): 1/28K,

total homicides/person (or, probability of being murdered by any means): 1/20K,

gun suicides/person (or, probability you’ll shoot yourself dead): 1/18K,

gun deaths/person (or, probability of being killed by a gun): 1/11K,

gunshot injuries/person (or, probability of getting shot, and living): 1/4K.

Now, lets see how this comes out per gun owner (using 80M U.S. gun owners):

gun homicides (in general population)/#owners: 1/7K,

gun suicides (in general population)/#owners: 1/5K,

gun deaths (in general population)/#owners: 1/3K,

gunshot injuries (in general population)/#owners: 1/1K.

So each year:
for every 1000 U.S. gun owners, 1 person is shot,
for every 3000 U.S. gun owners, 1 person is shot dead,
for every 5000 U.S. gun owners, 1 person shoots themselves dead,
for every 7000 U.S. gun owners, 1 person is murdered by gunshot.

Recall that for every 6 doctors there is 1 medical-accidental death per year. The hazards of medical practice have long been known and form the basis of the malpractice insurance industry (which, by the way, does a lot to raise the cost of “medicine,” this cash flow overhead going to insurance companies; how about nationalizing those companies to lower the cost of health care?)

A U.S. human is worth about $2M for a “reasonable” wrongful death damages/insurance settlement (the equivalent of $50K for a 40 year working life). (Yes, this is all very crass, but we are restricting argument to the absurdist confines of U.S. capitalist realpolitik.) However, court challenges to wrongful death claims, and legislation for protecting many industries like the airlines, set ridiculously low limits on settlements for fatal accidents, nearer $250K. So, I’ll use an average settlement of $0.5M to estimate the cost of malpractice insurance:

120K medical-accidental deaths/year, at $0.5M/per = $60B.

In fact the cost of medical liability insurance in the U.S. is about $55.6B/year, close to our estimate. However, since insurance companies probably absorb 30% to 50% of revenue for profit and overhead, the actual “average” settlement paid out must be closer to $250K to $350K.

For the 700K U.S. doctors, the average cost would be: $60B/700K = $85.7K = $7K/month. So U.S. doctors making $170K/year may spend up to half their income on their malpractice insurance (and or legal fees).

Fine.  Now let’s apply the same principle to gun owners. Let us allocate the cost of gun injury and death to “gun malpractice,” to be paid for by gun malpractice insurance, which gun owners would buy to compensate gunshot victims.

To estimate the cost of gun malpractice insurance let’s use measly settlements of:

$250K per gunshot death (paid to family members, obviously),
$100K per gunshot injury (paid for victim’s medical/rehabilitation & job/pay-loss expenses),

then for:

11K gun homicides/year, at $250K/per = $2.75B,

17K gun suicides/year, at $250K/per = $4.25B,

(28K gun deaths/year, at $250K/per = $7B),

75.7K gunshot non-fatal injuries/year, at $100K/per = $7.57B.

Total gun malpractice liabilities/year = $14.57B, round to $15B.

Now divide the cost among a total of 80M owners:

gun malpractice insurance premium (cost per owner) = $15B/80M = $188. A bargain, round generously to $200/year.

So it is entirely fair to charge gun owners about $200/year for “gun malpractice” insurance, which would help defray the costs to victims of gunshot. If the average awards were higher by a factor of 5 (to $1.25M per death and $500K for non-fatal injury), then the insurance premium would be $1000/year (and profit overhead for the insurance companies would raise premiums further).

Charging gun owners $1000/year for mandatory gun malpractice insurance does not seem unfair by comparison with what is done with M.D.’s, and it would not in any way infringe on gun owners’ sacred 2nd Amendment right to “defend freedom” personally. Such insurance would do a great deal to rein in both the private and public costs of U.S. trauma-response and health-care. Also gun malpractice insurance would be a great new capital industry, and such companies would probably be desirable investment vehicles.

It is obvious that the people of the U.S. accept the costs in gunshot injuries (76K/year) and deaths (28K/year) in the general population (312M), for the maintenance and convenience of unrestricted (or nearly so) gun ownership (80M owners). While no individual wants to be a victim of gun violence, we accept possibly having to make such personal sacrifice in order to uphold the higher social benefit of preserving the 2nd Amendment right of almost anyone being able to have all the guns of their choice as soon as possible.

However, some less-indulgent people, who do not have as high a regard for the U.S. Constitution as to accept this socialist accommodation, may agitate annoyingly for “gun control,” the restriction to gun ownership by legislation, even constitutional amendment. One argument they can use favorably is that the costs of gun violence are now borne unfairly by members of the public, gun owners or not, who happen to get shot.

This argument can be met by issuing gun malpractice insurance to gun owners, the proceeds of which will help compensate victims of gun violence (and create a new line of profitable insurance products). The existence of such insurance could be used by gun owners to indemnify them, individually and collectively, from “gun malpractice” liabilities. Indemnification would undoubtedly be set by legislation making gun malpractice insurance mandatory, in a similar way that medical malpractice insurance and automobile driving liability insurance are mandated.

Gun malpractice insurance would make maintenance of our 2nd Amendment freedom a win-win for both gun-owners and the non-gun members of the public, so long as you personally didn’t get shot up too badly. But if you did find yourself randomly chosen to participate in the socializing duty of gun action absorption, then you would have the comfort of knowing that the gun owners of America had provided for you to receive an immediate award of insurance money to help defray your medical expenses, and whatnot. That, and the red badge of courage pride you would have for your part in upholding the 2nd Amendment, would make you happy to be able to live with such freedom as we have in this country. Freedom carries responsibilities.

Manuel Garcia, Jr. is an occasional writer who is always independent. His e-mail address is: Read other articles by Manuel, or visit Manuel's website.

3 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. hayate said on January 25th, 2011 at 9:49pm #

    These sorts of articles are a waste of time and they are also dishonest propaganda, IE: devoid of intelligent, rational concepts, dependent upon emotional manipulation and written to psychologically push people into a decision. Now let’s apply the author’s reasoning to Switzerland.

    There are roughly 7.6 mil people in Switzwerland.

    All told, they have as many as 3 mil guns.

    In 2006 there were 34 murders or attempted murders involving firearms in Switzerland.

    Apparently Swiss firearms have a special power embedded within them that prevents excessive criminal use, in comparison to their less evolved american counterparts…. ;D

    It’s not the gun part of the phrase “americans owning guns”, it’s the american part that is the problem.

    The author actually did hit upon what the problem is, though he didn’t realise it. Look at this part:

    “The argument states that 120,000 (120K) accidental deaths occur every year because of mistakes by some of the 700,000 (700K) U.S. medical doctors. This is a ratio of medical accident deaths per doctor of 1/5.83, which we can round to 1/6.”

    Whether those statistics are accurate or not, they represent a serious breakdown in society. Doctors are supposed to heal, not harm. The fact so many are harmed by the medical establishment in the usa shows how deeply corrupt american society is. The problem is american society. Until americans recognise that the knuckledragging “me-firsters” that are the idols of american society, and whose philosophy is the basis of american society, are at the root of their problems (hell, most americans cant even accept the fact that america’s problems are something other than some bs they saw in the zionist msm) and work at correcting these deep flaws in the american character, the usa will still be a nation of mentally underdeveloped spoiled brats prone to tantrums.

    You can take away all their guns, but americans will still kill each other at a much higher rate than the people of Switzerland do. Arguing about guns being “the problem” is not going to cure the problem, it will only keep people distracted away from curing the real problem. Nixing a symptom never cured the disease. It’s time we stop lying to ourselves and each other.

  2. Deadbeat said on January 25th, 2011 at 11:49pm #

    it will only keep people distracted away from curing the real problem. Nixing a symptom never cured the disease. It’s time we stop lying to ourselves and each other.

    That is what defines Liberals and the pseudo-Left. They’re job is to keep the masses distracted and away from confronting Capitalism and Zionism.

  3. garcia said on January 31st, 2011 at 4:01pm #

    Fun in Arizona