Missouri Bill Seeks to Hold Gun Free Owners Liable for Damages
Article first appeared at Cheaper Than Dirt.
In 2016, SB 1736/HB2033 was passed in the Tennessee legislature. The bill was an attempt to hold businesses that chose to ban defensive firearms from their premises responsible for damages. That was a step too far for the Tennessee legislature. The bill was cut back to say that businesses that did not ban firearms would be immune from lawsuit for actions that resulted from their lack of a ban.
By Dean Weingarten
In Missouri, Representative Schroer has introduced a bill, HB 96, that is very similar to the original HB 2033 in Tennessee.
The proposal, known as House Bill 96, which would apply when a person who is authorized to carry a firearm, is prohibited from doing so by a business and is then injured by another person or an animal. If the injured person could otherwise have used a gun for self-defense, they could sue the business, which “assume(s) custodial responsibility for the safety and defense of any person” on their property who could carry.
Here is the opening paragraph of HB 96. From mo.gov:
1. Any business enterprise electing to prohibit the possession of firearms or other arms by the placement of signs as authorized under section 571.107, or other provisions of chapter 571, shall assume custodial responsibility for the safety and defense of an person who is authorized to carry fire arms or other arms under chapter 571 while such person is on the premises of the business enterprise. The provisions of this section shall not apply to private property not used for commercial purposes or private residences of any type. For purposes of this section, “business enterprise” means any business that sells or provides goods or services to the general public.
The bill has not been scheduled for any committee hearings or any of the process that will be required to guide it through the legislature. It has only been introduced. If passed, it creates a powerful incentive for property owners or managers not to put up “No Gun” signs, or to take them down if they are now in place.
If property owners or managers put up a “no gun” sign, or leave one in place, they are held responsible for damages to legal gun carriers who disarmed because of the sign. They are held responsible for damages that occurred to the legal gun carrier because of being disarmed on the way to and from the premises where they were legally prevented from being armed. Only those locations that are required to be Gun Free Zones by state or federal law are exempted.
No thinking property owner, unless they are strongly politically or ideologically motivated, will go against these incentives.
The bill follows a trend in several other states. Kansas grants immunity from liability to property owners and managers from damages that may result from legal gun owners possessing firearms on or in their property. Wisconsin does the same. Tennessee, as mentioned above provides a level of immunity to businesses which do not ban firearms.
The Missouri Legislature has been friendly to Second Amendment supporters. Watch this space for future developments.