The solution to the gun crisis in America is staring us in the face: We have met the enemy, and it is us.

Most Americans want to be free to have guns and ammunition, but many refuse to accept responsibility for the natural and logical consequences of having them. They want to risk death and injury to people and not pay for it. That’s irresponsible of them. We can stop that injustice but haven’t done so yet. That’s irresponsible of us.

Statistics show that most U.S. gun deaths are suicides, and most suicides are by gun (85% in Maine). Most of the other gun deaths are people the gun owner knows. Very few gun deaths are justified self-defense. Guns are mostly dangerous to the gun owners and their family, friends and neighbors.

We don’t yet know where Bowdoin gunman Joseph Eaton got his weapon so soon after getting out of jail, but witnesses reportedly saw “several” guns in the victims’ home, and the shooter had another on the road. The statistical likelihood is they were already in the home where he and his parents were staying. (Years before, his parents wouldn’t let him stay with them in Florida, because they had guns in the house and wouldn’t remove them to comply with his probation plan.)

In Yarmouth, the gunman wounded two strangers, one severely. She’s in the hospital with internal injuries, a GoFundMe page has been set up to help pay for her treatment. Obviously, the shooter is legally responsible for all the damage he caused, probably over $1,000,000, and he won’t pay a dime, not to bury the dead, and not to their families, nor will anyone else step in for him and take responsibility. His victims must suffer the ongoing damages alone, but for the charity of strangers. Similarly, the Texas shooter who killed five neighbors won’t pay those families a dime. He doesn’t have the money.

And this irresponsibility will continue to happen – unless we require payment in advance for gun ownership. It’s called insurance. We require it for cars, which are designed to protect us. We should require it for guns, which are designed to kill us. If that requires gun registration, training, licensing and fees, so be it, all part of gun-bearers being “well-regulated,” as the Second Amendment expressly requires.

California now requires gun owners to have insurance, and the courts will decide if it’s constitutional. The U.S. Congress is considering a bill to require insurance, but Republicans have stalled it. Unfortunately, the standard homeowners’ insurance policy does not pay for damages “expected or intended by the insured” – it covers only accidental injuries or death. We can change that and assign absolute responsibility to those who create the risk.

We should require strict liability insurance for each gun in America, so the costs of gun ownership (human injury and death, accidental or intended) can be spread out among all the gun owners, giving all gun owners a personal stake in gun safety, and gun victims an immediate payment to recover their damages. Assigning financial and legal responsibility can change human behavior.

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