Congressman Chris Collins (R) New York wrote an opinion piece titled:
I’m a member of Congress and I’m going to start carrying a gun
Today U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R) Alabama introduced HR 2940 a bill that would permit congressional lawmakers to carry a concealed weapon anywhere in the country except the U.S. Capitol or in the presence of the president or vice president.
Okay Reps. I hear you, you are scared. I get it, decades of the NRA passing laws making more guns available to more people with less training and fewer restrictions on where they can bring them makes the world a scarier place. Thanks Obama!
Congresspeople could do the logical thing and buy and wear body armor, which could actually protect them. As the old saying goes, "Guns don't protect you, body armor does!"
But it's not really about protecting yourself is it? Stopping bullets with a vest doesn't sound bad ass enough. Too passive. You want people to think, "He'll shoot anyone who looks at him funny." Why let actual self protection get in the way of the image of a gunslinger?
Before our congress members start wearing guns everywhere I have a few questions I think the public has a right to know, especially those who are physically in the same place as our representatives and their guns. Feel free to call your congressperson supporting Brooks' bill and see if they will answer these.
These questions are directed to Congressman Collins, but I doubt he will answer them, since he wouldn't say whether or not he was wearing a gun during a chamber of commerce event at Michael's Catering & Banquet in Blasdell NY. *Possible reasons why he didn't answer are below.)
The Personal Questions
Congressman, you have stated you will be carrying a gun everywhere in your district,
- Do you have liability insurance in case you have an accident with the gun and injure someone?
- What does your policy cover? What is exempt?
- What are the limits of your insurance coverage?
- If you have gun insurance, how much does it cost every year?
- How do your gun insurance costs compare to your auto insurance? Homeowners Insurance? Your umbrella liability policy?
- Who pays for your insurance? You or taxpayers?
To put liability limits in terms of your state-required auto insurance, for example:
New York auto insurance minimums are $25,000 - $50,000 limits for bodily injury for each person accidentally injured in a car accident. Gun injuries can cost much more. For gunshot survivors, the cost is much more than a single bullet. (Link)
“It's not uncommon for us to have a patient who has a total hospital bill for their acute inpatient hospitalization of over a million dollars,” Doherty said. “And in that situation, that patient has no insurance. Essentially, that's free charity care provided by the (Advocate Christ) hospital.” American Aljazeera, 2015 by Sarah Hoye
How Big Is Your Gun Insurance Coverage?
- Is there a lifetime cap on the medical bills it will pay?
- What if you injure someone with your gun and your insurance policy tops out? Do you have additional coverage such as an umbrella policy on your homeowners insurance?
- Would your homeowners' insurance cover this? Some policies won't cover you if you are breaking the law when your gun accident happens.
(BTW, my gun-carrying friends remind me that "negligent discharge of the firearm" is the phrase to use rather than "gun accident".)
Example: Let's say you hold one of your fundraisers in a gun-free zone. (I was going to say a Town Hall, but you haven't had one since you were elected in 2012!)
You decide to break that law and carry your gun concealed into the gun-free zone then BANG! You didn't intend to have an accident, but you did intend to break the law by bringing your gun into a place it was prohibited. Violating that law could mean you are not covered by insurance.
* Michael's Catering & Banquet probably has a policy banning guns except those carried by licensed security guards and police. That might be why Collin didn't answer when asked if he was carrying a gun. Property owners can ban guns on their property, they have that right.
Michael's also has a financial reason to ban guns at their events. They hold weddings and events where alcohol is served and people get rowdy (see photo). For insurance reasons they might ban guns on their property.
If they do not allow guns on their property and Collins defied them, their insurance carrier should be informed. Yes it's after the fact, but insurance carriers either raise rates or cancel policies if they find out management allows people who have unknown levels of training and blood alcohol carrying guns onto their property.
The Big Questions
That bill blocked people with pre-existing conditions from getting coverage if they were without coverage for over 30 days. (For example they lose their job during the weeks it takes to recover from a gunshot wound. That job loss also means losing their employee health care. )
If someone who is injured with the congressman's gun now has a pre-existing condition, they would be denied medical insurance in the future.
Gun owners are not required to be financially responsible for the gun accident injuries they cause while legally carrying guns in public.
Will Collins and others be financially responsible for the consequences of their decision to carry a gun everywhere? If not, why not?
Who should pick up the medical bill for gun injuries if the gun owners who caused them won't?
If the congress people start carrying everywhere the public should know:
- How well trained they are.
- Where and when are they carrying? People should be able to choose not to be in the same room with them.
- Are they following the law when they are carrying?
- Are they drinking alcohol while carrying? Many states prohibited that.
The public needs to know that if the Congressperson causes an accident while carrying, the medical bills of the injured will be paid. Finally, the injured person should have guaranteed health care if they end up with a pre-existing condition that arises from being accidentally shot by a congressperson.