NPR floats the idea on their Planet Money blog that gun owners should be required to buy liability insurance.
One economist (Justin Wolters) put it this way:
“The real problem with gun ownership is that they involve “externalities,” which is economist-speak for the fact that your gun may be used to hurt others. For instance, when Nancy Lanza purchased her Bushmaster AR-15, she probably weighed the benefits of owning the gun—the joy of ownership—with the price (about $800). But it’s unlikely she considered the loss, pain and grief that might follow if it were used by her son to kill 26 innocents. When people fail to consider the broader social costs of choices like buying a gun, they’re more likely to do them, and society suffers.”
But what about what Society gains from widespread gun ownership?
I don’t personally own a gun right now. I’ve got other more pressing economic issues than the current price of becoming proficient and safe with a gun—partially the result, no doubt, of growing up in a family that was not “into” gun culture. But I would feel immeasurably safer in a neighborhood of widespread gun ownership than one in which most people were disarmed. I know the statistics and criminals learn not to break into houses in areas where there are a lot of people who own guns. Since those crimes are avoided, they never make splashy headlines.