Caso’s Gun-A-Rama has been open since 1967. Saturday 2/11/2023 Jersey City, NJ. © Aristide Economopoulos/for NJ Monitor
Photo by Aristide Economopoulos for New Jersey Monitor/States Newsroom.

BY:  Ohio Capital Journal

The Ohio House Insurance Committee heard Wednesday from supporters of a bill that would prohibit insurance requirements for gun owners.

No city in Ohio is actively contemplating — much less pursuing — such a requirement. Nationwide, there are vanishingly few examples of gun insurance provisions. New Jersey approved a state law, but it’s on hold amid a court challenge. The city of San Jose in California has approved a local ordinance which took effect earlier this year.

An inventive lot

Rob Sexton from the Buckeye Firearms Association brushed off the lack of local insurance proposals, arguing gun control advocates are “an inventive lot.” He said imposing an insurance prohibition is simply getting ahead of people who are “continually seeking ways to get around what seem like obvious constitutional protections, to prohibit or restrict firearm possession and ownership.”

Sexton described the approach as one of several “insidious” policy efforts.

“They don’t seek to ban firearms outright but rather to raise the cost of owning a firearm,” Sexton said, “thereby denying self-defense rights to those with less financial means.”

“It’s not clear,” he added, “whether insurance companies would even offer such a product if the state of Ohio did mandate it.”

Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney, D-Westlake, made the comparison to auto insurance.

“Do supporters think that the state has a role to play in keeping people safe when they’re engaging in, you know, having a car?”

Sexton offered the response that driving, unlike gun ownership, doesn’t find its roots in a constitutional right.

 COLUMBUS, Ohio — MAY 10: State Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney, D-Westlake, speaks during the Ohio House session, May 10, 2023, at the Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Graham Stokes for Ohio Capital Journal. Republish photo only with original story.) 

Who should bear the burden?

Even though no one in Ohio is actually proposing insurance requirements for gun ownership, Sweeney made a case for their utility. She pushed back on Sexton’s argument that the Victims of Crimes Act fund already fills the role that insurance would. Sweeney noted the fund often runs dry and victims face hurdles in gaining access.

“What is your your solution? Because if that’s it, in one way or another it is the taxpayers who are going to be on the hook for paying for the ambulances,” she argued.

“Over 5,000 people every year are in some way directly impacted,” she continued. “Either they’re killed or they are shot. What do we do to make sure that they don’t go into financial ruin in this state because of someone else’s actions?”

Sexton balked at how to reform the victims compensation system, but argued the question of crime and prosecution is a society-wide issue.

“We believe that the burden for all of that, including the court system, incarceration, prosecution, law enforcement, that’s a societal problem at large,” Sexton said, “And therefore, we shouldn’t take one group of people who are overwhelmingly law abiding people and subject them to cost burdens.”

The proposal passed the state Senate easily, and seems unlikely to face significant hurdles in the House.

Follow OCJ Reporter Nick Evans on Twitter.

Nick Evans

Nick Evans has spent the past seven years reporting for NPR member stations in Florida and Ohio. He got his start in Tallahassee, covering issues like redistricting, same sex marriage and medical marijuana. Since arriving in Columbus in 2018, he has covered everything from city council to football. His work on Ohio politics and local policing have been featured numerous times on NPR.


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