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Can Florida's Agriculture Commissioner End The State's Gun Violence Epidemic? Only If He Wants To

-by Adam Christensen,

Campaign Manager, J.R. Gaillot

All elected officials have power. The biggest question is what they do with it. When it comes to gun violence, sometimes it feels like the changes that are necessary will only occur in the courts, and if the legislature agrees. The United States is one of the few countries in the world where this is the case. In every single industry here in the United States, there is some form of exploitation-- there is always a profit motive.

For years, we have approached the challenge of gun violence from the perspective of thinking that if we fight hard enough, we can change people's minds. And if we can change people's minds, we can get the necessary reforms that it would take to save people from being shot in schools, churches, workplaces, on the streets, in parks... While this is something that we have to do, it's time that we couple it with an approach that makes gun safety profitable.

I'm talking about the insurance industry. Every industry that we have that includes some form of insurance, also includes some form of a barrier to entry. You can't drive a car without insurance. You can't be a first-time homeowner without insurance. In some cases, you can't even rent an apartment without insurance. In those industries, this just makes having those products, services and necessities even more difficult. What if we took that approach to gun ownership? What if we raised the barrier of entry for purchasing and owning certain weapons? What if we made it costly to stockpile them and hoard them?

We can't do that for all guns. But what if we were able to prop up an insurance industry and incentivize it to do it for us? We could create one of the most powerful proponents of gun safety that the United States has ever seen. We could create an industry that lobbies for safe gun legislation, that raises premiums on unsafe gun owners, that shifts liability from manufacturers, and compensates victims. All of this could start in one of the most unlikely places-- Florida.

The agricultural commissioner in Florida oversees concealed carry licensing and registration for the entire state. The commission determines the criteria for someone's ability to get a concealed carry permit. Every year there are over 300,000 people who either renew or receive a new concealed carry license. Here is where we start: We make it a requirement, along with licensing and registration, that someone applying for a concealed carry permit must also have gun liability insurance. This will increase the speed at which the department is able to approve concealed carry permits, placing the onus on insurance companies as opposed to the bureaucracy of government. In order to make money, the insurance companies will charge a monthly premium per each person that is licensed-- just like car insurance, license, registration...

The insurance industry for concealed-carry in Florida could increase to upwards of $300 or $400 million in size overnight. This would create a substantial and formidable lobbying base in Tallahassee. The last thing that insurance companies want is increased liability or risk, which means that as a response, they will begin to lobby for safer gun practices.

Perhaps they would provide discounts for having gun safes in your home, or other simple safety measures? Premiums and cost of insurance will go up or down based on these precautions. And as the industry grows, it will try to extend its reach. They will be lobbying in Tallahassee in order to make the industry bigger by including more guns and more requirements for liability insurance for more products.

Effectively, you can create an industry focused on gun safety that is profitable, and is able to counter and go after unsafe gun groups that are promoting easy access to firearms for everyone. Additionally, the requirements that the Department of Agriculture currently has, and requirements the insurance industry would have, could create a form of double authentication for people getting concealed carry permits. This would go a long way to create market forces that over the long term would limit gun violence statewide. It would also limit accidents from unsafe gun use from uninsured individuals.

We can no longer continue to fight on this issue alone. We need financial backing and firepower on our side in order to change the dynamics. Gun liability insurance is one of the best opportunities that we have had in a long time to create jobs, keep people safe, and take on the NRA all with the support and backing of gun manufacturers who want to lessen their own liability.

If you would like to read about how this could work and what ways it could be implemented in Florida please visit our website. And if you like this idea and would like to help elect J.R. get elected as the next Florida Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Commissioner, please click here or on the Blue America endorsement meme below.

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