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Proposed Missouri Bill Would Impose Civil Liability in Gun-Free Zones

December 06, 2016

Last week, a measure to introduce a Missouri bill that places civil liability on any business that would ban lawful guns in the event of a patron getting hurt on the property from situations where the gun may have been beneficial in preventing an injury. The measure was pre-filed in the House and would allow a person authorized to possess a gun in the constitutional carry state to sue for injuries sustained on the property of a business that voluntarily prohibits firearms.

Rep-elect Nick Schroer, a Republican from O’Fallon, sponsored the proposal. Schroer was strongly endorsed by the National Rifle Association. Schroer hopes the bill will lead to businesses dropping their gun free zones. Schroer said, “Hopefully, business owners are going to start looking at these decisions.”

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The bill, HB 96, would encourage publicly accessible businesses to drop current gun free zones out of fear of potential lawsuits arising after an incident, in effect, declaring one at their own risk and assuming custodial responsibility for their patrons. Those seeking to litigate would have a two-year window from the event and need to show they were legally able to carry a weapon at the time but were not armed due to a “no guns” sign posted in the business.

This is not the first bill of this kind. A parallel proposal was introduced in Tennessee earlier this year. Improvising resulted in rewriting the proposal to specifically provide immunity from civil liability to business owners who have a gun free zone as long as it is posted.  A Texas state senator vowed he would pioneer an improved liability bill centered on gun free zones in the 2017 session.