AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Senator Roland Gutierrez introduced multiple gun safety bills at the state capital on Tuesday. One of those bills, which has already been attempted at the city-level in San Jose and in the State of New Jersey, would require every gun owner in Texas to buy firearm liability insurance.
"Senate Bill 913 requires every fire arm owner to maintain liability insurance for property damage, bodily injury, or death that occurs with their firearm," Gutierrez said. "There are exceptions for members of the U.S. armed forces and peace officers."
The bill itself would require $100,000 of liability coverage for injury or death to one person and $300,000 for multiple people. Law enforcement would be able to request proof of insurance and violations related to the bill could result in a fine of between $1000 and $10,000.
Kirk Evans, the president of Texas-based insurer U.S. Law Shield, said it's difficult to predict exactly how such an insurance policy would work in Texas because every state can create their own regulations regarding insurance. Evens said the insurance would likely follow the person and not the gun.
"We don't know what the final rules would look like or what the regulations would say," Evans told KENS 5. "Insurance is regulated at the state level and the state has to approve the policy."
The first time such a policy was put in place was in San Jose, California, last year as a city ordinance. Evans said New Jersey was the first state to pass the policy, Oregon narrowly passed a similar policy, and California, Massachusetts, and New York have bills waiting to pass.
The New Jersey statute would go into effect this summer but Evans there will still be a seven-month delay for that state's insurance department to iron out the requirements for individual policies.
Evans also said the New Jersey statute is also facing an injunction after a lawsuit. In fact, he said most states that are pursing the policy are dealing with some kind of legal challenge and the decision can go either way.
"In many of these states you have one court rule that these restrictions are unconstitutional and have another court in the same state uphold the new laws," Evans said. "Now those cases are working their way through the system."
Evans said there are home insurance policies or "umbrella" insurance policies that might provide the needed coverage but a customer would need to dig into the fine print of their policy to be absolutely sure. U.S. Law Shield is preparing to offer their own policy firearm liability.
Evan's said it is likely that Texan's will ultimately not need to worry about the bill because similar policies in other left-leaning states didn't necessarily pass with a large majority.
"If this is something that only passed by two or three percentage points in Oregon then it Texas it has virtually no chance," Evans said.