Should Businesses Who Ban Guns On The Premises Be Liable For Injury And Death In Their Establishments?

(image source: Google Images)

A gun rights group on Facebook, Cold Dead Hands, has offered up an interesting conceptual argument regarding businesses that “ban guns on premises” and liability for injuries and death that may result from a mass shooting in a “gun free zone.” A meme posted on their page yesterday has gotten thousands of likes, shares and comments mostly supportive of the idea.

liabilityWe all know the statistics. With a single exception of Tucson, every mass shooting in the past 25 years has taken place in a “gun-free” zone, a place where an individual does not have the legal right to carry his or her gun… See More

Posted by Cold Dead Hands on Saturday, July 25, 2015

(image source: Cold Dead Hands on FB)

(image source: Cold Dead Hands on FB)

This comes in the aftermath of the shooting in Tennessee that left 5 military personnel dead and the prominent picture of a bullet-riddled door with a “no guns” sign in the middle of all the holes. It follows both the conviction of the Aurora Colorado theater shooter and a new theater shooting in Lafayette Louisiana, both of which were “gun free zones.” As the post points out, every mass shooting event in the last 25 years has been in a “gun free zone” with the exception of the shooting of Gabby Giffords in a public parking lot in the “constitutional carry” state of Arizona.

The concept of liability is fairly simple, a law-abiding citizen with a legally owned and carried firearm who is supposedly protected in their right to “keep and bear arms” by the 2nd Amendment is effectively disarmed by the property rights of the business and left unprotected while on the premises. The business effectively deprives the citizen of their self-defense capability, but offers no other protection of its customers while on site. When a business obstructs the ability of individuals to defend themselves, do they take on an implicit burden of providing the protection they have denied?

Should Companies That Enact "Gun Free Zones be Liable?

Now the obvious free market answer is for people to simply not frequent businesses that deny them the right of self protection, but that is not as easy or effective as it sounds. Many businesses that were once “gun friendly” have changed their policies, often under PR pressure from big name gun control lobby groups. “Gun friendly” options are harder and harder to come by, effectively giving citizens little choice, but to put their lives in the hands of property owners in order to carry on their daily lives.

What about those facilities that are “gun free zones” by government mandate? Does a law that impedes a citizen’s right to self defense make the government liable for the deaths and injuries that result from criminal or terrorist activity in such places? If the government facilitates a business’ ability to ban firearms, disarming otherwise law-abiding customers, through legislation and legal posted signage that carries the penalty of law for violation, does the government share liability for death or injury in those establishments that they enabled to disarm customers?

(image source: crimepreventionresearchcenter.org)

(image source: crimepreventionresearchcenter.org)

In 2014, the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) released a revised report showing that 92% of mass public shootings between January 2009 and July 2014 took place in gun-free zones. Where did they occur? Schools, movie theaters, military bases (twice at Fort Hood Army Base), churches and almost all where “gun free zones” either by government mandate or private property owner’s prerogative.

Government, Insurance and Public Relations concerns all play into the “gun free zone” question, but what is not included in the discussion is liability. Businesses may get a discount on their insurance by being a “gun free zone,” but does that actually make their business safer or a bigger target for criminals and terrorists?

After all, a bakery can get sued and put out of business for refusing to make a cake that violates their religious beliefs. A bartender can be held criminally liable for over-serving patrons who kills themselves or others in a drunk driving accident. Should a business and/or the government assume some liability for disarming law-abiding citizens who could potentially defend themselves or others in the event of an attack by criminals, crazies or terrorists in a “gun free zone?”

(image source: store.cdh2a.com)

(image source: store.cdh2a.com)

Background on Cold Dead Hands: Billed as a “New Breed Of Advocacy” they are a for-profit corporation that funds their advocacy solely through the sale of merchandise on their store website. They don’t take donations and they don’t charge membership dues. They have almost a million followers on Facebook and can be found on Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and just about every major social media platform out there. The person who came up with the “liability meme” is himself a lawyer, although he asked to remain anonymous due to potential retaliatory actions from anti-gun zealots. The groups general message seems to be one of founding father doctrine, constitutional original intent, patriotism and most of all individual activism; getting people re-engaged in the political process personally rather than through lobbyist and special interest groups. They view themselves as educators and motivators of the people rather than leaders or representatives of the people.

Joining the U.S. Air Force right out of high school, Jon had the opportunity to experience many different parts of the world and different cultures. His post military career path, both white collar and blue collar, allowed him to work alongside both CEOs and average Joes. “Writing was never a goal or even vaguely contemplated as a career choice, it just happened, an accidental discovery of a talent and a passion.” A passion that has taken him in many directions from explorations of the zombie subculture and writing zombie stories to politics and News. He is an avid “people watcher,” political junkie and has a ravenous appetite for history and current events alike.

About the Author

Jon Britton
Joining the U.S. Air Force right out of high school, Jon had the opportunity to experience many different parts of the world and different cultures. His post military career path, both white collar and blue collar, allowed him to work alongside both CEOs and average Joes. "Writing was never a goal or even vaguely contemplated as a career choice, it just happened, an accidental discovery of a talent and a passion." A passion that has taken him in many directions from explorations of the zombie subculture and writing zombie stories to politics and News. He is an avid "people watcher," political junkie and has a ravenous appetite for history and current events alike.

12 Comments on "Should Businesses Who Ban Guns On The Premises Be Liable For Injury And Death In Their Establishments?"

  1. Robert Miller | July 27, 2015 at 6:34 pm |

    They are Totally Responsible both Financially, and Morally.

  2. Absolutely, yes they should be responsible. Any business or government entity that wishes to limit our rights to self defense ought to be not only liable if injury or death happens, but should be required to provide protections such as armed guards to prevent these kinds of things from happening. A simple security camera is never going to protect anyone. Gun Free Zones only protect the criminals, they have never protected the average Joe Citizen.

  3. In the case of a government mandated “gun free zone” I believe the government is liable for the security of patrons.
    However in the case of a private business prohibiting firearms carry, you as an individual choose to enter the business, your choice, the business is not liable for your security .

    • what if your employed there?? should workers be able to have the choice of a paycheck, good paying one, or safety ?

    • Jon Britton | July 27, 2015 at 9:40 pm |

      Michael, several have made that argument, but… Business who choose to go guns-free have the support of the government by criminalizing violating the guns-free policy, support of insurance companies who offer discounts for going gun-free (ironically due to reduced liability). Free market options that are “gun friendly” are becoming fewer and farther between. For many necessities, like gas, groceries, etc. “gun friendly” alternatives are virtually non-existent in most places. So, in order to maintain our personal protection at all times, we should become hermits in a cabin in the woods? You are correct, a business is not liable for your protection, you are. The question is, when a business denies your personal protection ability as a condition of doing business do the then ASSUME responsibility for your protection?

  4. I agree with this sentiment completely…Also I am a big fan of your Facebook page and the info therein provided..It’s good been good to see some push back to the extreme liberalism

  5. No, businesses should Not be held liable for injuries in a gun free zone. The person welding the gun is the only person liable, because he/she is the killer, not the business. Sorry to disagree with what seems to be the majority of commenters here, but that’s how I feel. More litigation isn’t going to change anything about the fundamental problem. Allowing people to carry guns into establishments certainly isnt

  6. Jewelfires, first off don’t be sorry for offering your opinion where they are asked for. Secondly your statement only works if only the shooter was held liable but in recent times families have pursued the dealer and manufacturers of the firearms used. It would have to work both ways on the liability.

  7. If they are going to provide defenseless victims for every murderous whacko to exploit, they should be held accountable. Of course, everyone is there by their own free will, so … each victim DID make themselves willing targets.

  8. Can we give the bakery thing a rest? They were NOT sued for not making the cake… They were sued for publicly releasing private information about the couple. Which is a great reason to be sued and put out of business. That line ruined the whole idea of the article for me.

  9. As an Australian, I have to say
    Government is a business, the biggest business of all
    I know plenty of people who have been victims of violence, who would have been able to defend themselves
    Well, if it weren’t for the arbitrary impositions of the biggest business of all in this country
    I myself still have a dent in my skull from a home invasion
    So y’know
    I can do a lot more than just support this concept
    I think it should be expanded upon BIG TIME TO INCLUDE THE BIGGEST BUSINESS OF ALL!!!

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