Even before the Newtown tragedy, Massachusetts had some of the most stringent gun laws in America. Now, the national mood has embolded lawmakers to seek more. Any gun control bill must be practical, and safeguard the rights within the Second Amendment. A new bill from state Representative David Linsky, a Democrat from Natick, is a good way to launch a serious debate, because it takes many cues from the public health field. Rather than simply attempt to ban certain weapons, it tries to influence the behavior of gun owners.
For instance, Linsky’s bill would require gun owners to purchase liability insurance, with rates that could vary depending on the type of weapon and storage situation. Gun owners fear that the state could use such a mandate as a stealth way to outlaw guns, by making insurance too costly to obtain. Indeed, the premiums should be based only on a rational accounting of the risks presented by gun ownership, the way that having a pool raises the cost of homeowner’s insurance.