LawsSecond Amendment

Florida Businesses That Ban Guns Could Be Held Liable In Mass Shootings

From Tam­pa Bay TimesTALLAHASSEE — Say a movie the­ater in Flori­da banned its patrons from car­ry­ing con­cealed hand­guns, but a mass shoot­er came in any­way and attacked — not unlike what hap­pened in Auro­ra, Colo. almost five years ago.

Under an NRA-backed mea­sure pro­posed this week in the Flori­da Leg­is­la­ture, vic­tims who had a per­mit to car­ry a con­cealed weapon could sue the the­ater for dam­ages if they could show the weapons ban left them dis­armed when they might have been able to use their gun to thwart or stop the attack.

The new pro­pos­al (SB 610) from Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Chair­man Greg Steube — a con­ser­v­a­tive Sara­so­ta Repub­li­can who has pro­posed a slew of con­tro­ver­sial gun-rights mea­sures this year — says the “Leg­is­la­ture intends to find a bal­ance” between gun-own­ers’ rights and pri­vate prop­er­ty rights.

And Steube’s plan to do that means busi­ness­es would be held respon­si­ble — and put at risk of being sued — for deci­sions to ban guns.

It’s the premise in Flori­da that if a pri­vate busi­ness wants to pro­hib­it guns in their loca­tion that’s open to pub­lic, that’s fine they can do that,” Steube said. “But if you’re going to do that, in my opin­ion, I should have some assump­tion that I’m going to be pro­tect­ed as a con­ceal-car­ry per­mit-hold­er because you’re tak­ing away my abil­i­ty to defend myself.”

The pro­posed law change would sub­ject pri­vate busi­ness­es to poten­tial civ­il penal­ties if an inci­dent hap­pens that “could rea­son­ably have been pre­vent­ed” had guns and oth­er weapons not been banned.

About 1.7 mil­lion peo­ple have con­cealed weapons per­mits in Flori­da, the most of any state in the coun­try.

Steube’s bill would force a busi­ness that bans guns to legal­ly “assume absolute cus­to­di­al respon­si­bil­i­ty” for their patrons’ “safe­ty and defense” should some­one com­mit “any unlaw­ful or reck­less act” or should “a vicious or wild ani­mal” attack.

If you’re pro­hibit­ing my abil­i­ty to car­ry and I’m licensed to car­ry … you’re going to need to make sure that there’s ade­quate secu­ri­ty in place to pro­tect me in case of an emer­gency or some type of shoot­ing inci­dent,” Steube said. “And if you don’t take those ade­quate mea­sures and some­thing hap­pens, than you’re going to be liable.”

The mea­sure would allow law­suits — seek­ing dam­ages, attor­neys fees and court costs — against the busi­ness for up to two years after the inci­dent occurred.

The leg­is­la­tion does not affect home­own­ers or their rights, Steube said.

Mar­i­on Ham­mer, the NRA’s influ­en­tial Tal­la­has­see lob­by­ist, said Steube’s mea­sure “mere­ly cod­i­fies” an oblig­a­tion pri­vate busi­ness­es already have.

When [busi­ness­es] deny cus­tomers and clients the abil­i­ty to exer­cise the con­sti­tu­tion­al right to bear arms for law­ful self-defense, they incur an extra­or­di­nary duty of care to pro­tect those peo­ple and an extra­or­di­nary lia­bil­i­ty if they fail to do so,” Ham­mer said in an email.

Steube said he hasn’t talked to the busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty about his plan. Major busi­ness groups, includ­ing the Flori­da Cham­ber and Asso­ci­at­ed Indus­tries of Flori­da, are so far silent on the pro­pos­al, which was filed Tues­day after­noon.

The bill has not yet been assigned to leg­isla­tive com­mit­tees for review, and there is no House com­pan­ion at this time, which is typ­i­cal­ly nec­es­sary for a mea­sure to have a chance at becom­ing law.

Mean­while, Steube also is fol­low­ing through on plans he announced last week to break up a con­tro­ver­sial and sweep­ing gun mea­sure he had ini­tial­ly pro­posed (SB 140) into as many as 10 indi­vid­ual bills.

Six such bills sur­faced Wednes­day morn­ing. For instance, SB 618 lifts the ban on con­cealed weapons in air­port pas­sen­ger ter­mi­nals, mir­ror­ing a mea­sure already filed in the Flori­da House. Oth­er indi­vid­ual mea­sures from Steube would allow con­cealed weapons also at leg­isla­tive meet­ings (SB 620) and oth­er gov­ern­ment meet­ings (SB 626), in career cen­ters (SB 640), on pub­lic col­lege and uni­ver­si­ty cam­pus­es (SB 622) and in cour­t­hous­es, so they can be tem­porar­i­ly sur­ren­dered at secu­ri­ty (SB 616).

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ER1C ☠

ER1C ☠

Dedicated Second Amendment Advocate, At-Home Gunsmith, Designer, Blogger, Video Guy, Author, Business Owner & ReloadOne Member.

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