Should Business Owners Be Held Responsible for Consequences of Their Gun-Free Zones?

In the wake of more media coverage of gun violence, the American people, politicians and business owners seem to react in two different ways. Liberals, like most Democrats, believe the best answer is to push stricter gun control. Some go as far as to push for all guns to be outlawed and American’s stripped of their Second Amendment rights to own and bear arms. They have the misguided belief that once guns are outlawed and removed from society that gun violence will drastically drop. What they fail to realize is that most criminals cannot legally purchase or own a gun anyway and that hasn’t stopped them from do so. The only thing gun bans do is deprive law abiding citizens from having the right to defend themselves, their loved ones and their homes. Over the past few years, I’ve reported a number of instances when someone at home was able to defend themselves, their loved ones and their homes from dangerous intruders. In some of those instances, it was a mom or child who used the family gun for defense.

Some of these extreme liberals go so far as to believe that gun-free zones are part of the answer in curbing gun violence. Again, this is based on the false premise that no one will venture to carry a gun in a gun-free zone. Yet, many of the mass shootings reported by the liberal media take place in gun-free zones – Sandy Hook, Aurora theater and the Pulse nightclub as just a few examples.

That forces a legal question of who should be held accountable or responsible for gun violence committed in gun-free zones? Some evidence suggests that gun-free zones are more dangerous and put people in greater danger than gun-friendly zones and businesses.

For instance, take the 1991 mass shooting at a Luby’s Restaurant in Killeen, Texas. Suzanne Hupp and her parents were enjoying a meal when a man entered the restaurant and began shooting. When it was all over, both of Hupp’s parents were among the 23-people killed, not to mention 20 others that had been wounded. Hupp had a concealed carry permit, but at the time, Texas law forbid her from carrying her gun into the restaurant. Before going in to eat, she locked her gun in her car. She knows that she had opportunity to shoot the gunman and save lives, including the life of her mother, who was shot trying to reach Hupp’s dying father. In this case, it was Texas law, which Hupp fought successfully to change, but the same result would have happened had it been a Luby’s gun-free policy. Hupp was a law-abiding citizen and would have still left her gun locked in her car.

The question of liability for gun-free zones has found its way to the Missouri state legislature. State Representative Mike Moon (R-157th District) has pre-filed Missouri House Bill 300 to be presented to the 2017 legislative session.

Section A, Paragraph 1 of HB300 reads:

“Section A. Chapter 571, RSMo, is amended by adding thereto one new section, to be known as section 571.068, to read as follows: 571.068.

1- Any business enterprise authorized to post signs on property prohibiting the possession of a concealed firearm by a person authorized to carry a concealed firearm under sections 571.101 to 571.121 shall assume absolute custodial responsibility for the safety and defense of the endorsement or permit holder while such person is on the premises of the business enterprise and on any property owned by the business enterprise that the endorsement or permit holder is required to traverse in order to travel to and from the location where the endorsement or permit holder’s firearm is stored. The provisions of this section shall not apply to private property not used for commercial purposes or to 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.”

In reference to his introduction of HB 300, Moon stated:

“If they’re not going to allow people to protect themselves if they have a need to then they need to be responsible for the care of that individual if they’re harmed.”

Moon pointed to what happened at the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, saying:

“If I remember correctly, he lived within 20 minutes or so of 7 different theaters. All but one didn’t allow guns and guess which one he choose to attack? I don’t think we should have our hands tied by a business or someone else, even by the government, disallowing us to use whatever means we have available to protect ourselves.”

Many states have enacted similar laws to hold bars and bartenders liable for knowingly allowing patrons to drink in excess and then drive away intoxicated and impaired, so why shouldn’t businesses that knowingly place their patrons in danger also be held responsible?

As a home owner, aren’t you liable for anyone who falls and hurts themselves on your property? As a home owner, aren’t you liable if your dog bites someone else? So why shouldn’t a business owner also be held liable if someone gets shot or injured in or on their property because the business owner denied them their 2nd Amendment right to protect themselves?

Dave Jolly

R.L. David Jolly holds a B.S. in Wildlife Biology and an M.S. in Biology – Population Genetics. He has worked in a number of fields, giving him a broad perspective on life, business, economics and politics. He is a very conservative Christian, husband, father and grandfather who cares deeply for his Savior, family and the future of our troubled nation.

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