Georgia Bill Would Make Property Owners Liable for Injuries in ‘Gun-Free Zones’ – Bearing Arms

Georgia Bill Would Make Property Owners Liable for Injuries in ‘Gun-Free Zones’ – Bearing Arms

A Georgia lawmaker says private property owners should be able to prohibit firearms from their premises if they want, but believes that if they do so they should be held responsible for any harm that might befall a lawful gun owner who was disarmed by the policy. 

Under HB 1364, introduced by Rep. Martin Momtahan, property owners who forbid lawful concealed carry would assume responsibility for the safety of their customers, which means they would be liable for any injuries suffered if they are unable to protect themselves on the premises. 

“All we want to make sure is, if you’re in the store or anywhere and it has a ‘no gun’ sign, then that store needs to understand they have absolute custodial care of that person” who wants to carry a legal firearm but isn’t allowed, Momtahan said. 

That means the store becomes legally liable for the safety of the gun owner whose gun has been banished from the property. 

His bill HB 1364 says, “Any lawful weapons carrier who is prohibited from carrying… and who is injured… shall have a cause of action against the person, business or other entity that owns or legally controls such property.”

Timothy Lytton of Georgia State University said establishments that banish firearms could face lawsuits from gun owners whose guns get banished.

“Let’s say I’m a bar owner,” Lytton said in an interview.  “Under the new law, if I prohibit them from bringing their firearms in and they’re attacked by another patron in the bar, then I’m absolutely liable for their injuries that result from that attack because I didn’t allow them to bring their weapon.”

And? If I’m told that I can’t bring my concealed firearm into a particular location, then the property owner should be responsible for my personal safety. Lytton notes that the bill, at least in its current form, doesn’t exempt any property owners, including federal, state, or local government. It’s possible that the legislation will be amended in committee or on the House floor, but Momhatan says he’s fine with the bill as introduced, telling Atlanta TV station WXIA that, “we have a litigious society, where we settle these types of things in a court of law, rightfully where we should.” 

I have a feeling that Momhatan’s bill could face an uphill climb in the legislature, even with GOP supermajorities, because I’m sure there will be a lot of business interests who lobby against the proposal. Even if the Chamber of Commerce and other entities oppose HB 1364, Momhatan’s argument makes sense to me. We already know that the police aren’t responsible for our individual safety, which means that it’s ultimately up to us to protect ourselves. If business owners want to bar concealed carry from their property that’s their right, but why shouldn’t they assume responsibility for the safety of their customers and visitors if they choose to turn their establishment into a “gun-free zone”? 

HB 1364’s already attracted a handful of co-sponsors, though it has yet to be scheduled for a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee. Hopefully that will change in the coming days, but Georgia gun owners can help the process along by reaching out to their representative and urging them to sign on as co-sponsors to this common sense proposal. 


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