The National Rifle Association is condemning Washington, D.C.'s efforts to require gun owners to buy liability insurance, suggesting it's a racist "poll tax" on the poor.
"The greatest impact," said the NRA in reaction to the District's demand for $250,000 or more in liability insurance before buying a gun, "would be to price the poor out of the ability to exercise a fundamental, individual, constitutional right as well as their inherent right to self-defense, and is not any different from imposing a poll tax falling most onerously on minorities and the poor."
Trevor Santos, an NRA state liaison, said proposals like Washington's only hurt legitimate gun owners, not criminals or those who steal guns. He said the city's effort would "not curb crime rates or decrease violence. Criminals will not purchase insurance policies, just as the many laws on the books have not stopped them from committing other crimes involving the misuse of firearms."
The NRA is bracing for anti-gun battles on several fronts in states now that Capitol Hill has failed to act on President Obama's promise to tighten gun controls nationwide. The District's proposal is one of several that the NRA said amount to a camouflaged bid to eliminate guns by making ownership too expensive and difficult.
Santos, in testimony provided to the District, also noted that it isn't easy to get liability insurance for guns. "If such policies do not exist, this could lead to a de facto gun ban in the District of Columbia. Many, if not most, insurers do not offer firearm-specific liability coverage, many exclude coverage for claims arising from firearm ownership and any legitimate defensive use is often improperly excluded under a misapplication of the 'intentional acts exclusion.' Further, coverage for claims against a homeowner for the misuse of a stolen gun will in no way benefit crime victims as the thief cuts all liability to the owner by the act of stealing the gun," he said.