Bill would let gun permit holders sue if hurt in a store that bans them from legally carrying

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Minnesota – It’s safe to say most people have ventured into a store or restaurant where there’s a visible sign stating “No Firearms Allowed on Premises” (or something to that effect).

Well in Minnesota, there’s legislation coming down the pipe that says if a person gets harmed or suffers any kind of loss while on a property that forbids lawfully carrying in the establishment – then the property owners/company can get sued.

In Minnesota, private business owners have the right to tell their patrons that they’re not allowed to carry guns of any kind in their place of business, regardless of whether the patron can lawfully carry or not.

In fact, according to Minnesota Statutes 2018, section 624.714, subdivision 17, legal gun owners can be fined for carrying guns in establishments against an owner’s wishes.

The current bill text reads:

“The operator of the establishment or its agent has made a reasonable request that firearms not be brought into the establishment [then the gun owner] may be ordered to leave the premises.

A person who fails to leave when so requested is guilty of a petty misdemeanor. The fine for a first offense must not exceed $25.”

Well, state Rep. Jeremy Munson thought the way that portion of the law was written was missing a few things.

With the proposed amendments to the standing current legislation, it looks like there’s going to be some liability shifts toward establishment owners who want to deprive people the ability to protect themselves while in their place of business.

 

 

Behold, the newly conceived language from HF 3051:

“A property owner or entity who prohibits the carrying of firearms by a person who is otherwise authorized to carry a firearm or who is not otherwise prohibited from carrying a firearm shall assume absolute custodial responsibility for the safety and defense of the unarmed person while the person is located on the owner’s or entity’s property that is posted with a sign prohibiting firearms.” 

What that means is that if a property owner says “no guns allowed” to a patron, then any form of harm – physical or financial – that happens to that patron is on the property owner.

If a customer mugs you, you can sue the property owner.

If someone attacks you in the store, you can hold the store owner accountable.

The way the bill puts it, is that anyone “who is injured, suffers bodily injury or death, incurs economic loss or expense, property damage, or any other compensable loss,” that could have stopped it by having a gun – it’s now all on the property owner.

The new wording spells this as clear as day, saying victims of loss while on these gun-free properties “shall have a civil cause of action against the owner or entity that exercises control over the property”.

Furthermore more, property owners will also have to cover all the court costs, as the language points out:

“In addition to any other damages authorized by law, the person may be awarded reasonable attorney fees, expert witness costs, and other costs necessary to bring the cause of action.” 

Currently, the amended language has been referred to the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Committee.

What’s unclear is whether the bill would get a hearing in the Democrat controlled committee during the 2020 legislative session.

Nonetheless, this has to be one of the most balanced approaches one could take, legislation-wise, against private business owners who want to disarm citizens from lawfully carrying in their business.

It’s a fair solution to make owners and managers think hard about whether they intend to adopt “absolute custodial responsibility for the safety and defense of the unarmed person”.

Go Deeper

In the meantime in Chicago – you have a whole different kind of gun legislation proposal.

Democratic Representative Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz filed a bill in Illinois that, if passed, will require gun owners to also carry a $1 million liability insurance coverage policy. 

House Bill 5170 also states that it:

“…prohibits surplus line insurance producers from procuring and domestic surplus line insurers from insuring the risk of legal fees, costs, or expenses related to an investigation, indictment, or prosecution of any criminal charge arising out of the use of a firearm.”

So…no one can own a firearm without a $1 million insurance policy, but insurance companies would be prohibited from providing certain coverages to gun owners.

Things that make you go hmm.

The bill made its way to the House Rules Committee this Tuesday.

In addition to the above absurdity, HB 5170 would provide an amendment to the Firearm Owners Identification Card (FOID) Act which requires the gun owner to submit proof of the insurance to Illinois State Police.

The bill states proof of “liability coverage of at least $1,000,000 for accidental injuries caused by a firearm” must be shown.

Currently, FOID cards are up for renewal every ten years.  This bill says state police “may require annual proof” of the insurance coverage. 

Failing to provide proof or maintain coverage would suspend the users’ FOID card and effectively make it illegal for the person in question to carry or possess a firearm. 

As it stands now, there is a federal lawsuit against Illinois State Police (filed on January 31, 2020) which alleges that the agency is holding up applications for FOID cards.  The lawsuit states this act is depriving citizens of their Second Amendment rights, and also says the lapse is allowing the FOID program to become defunded.

FOID cards are required in the State of Illinois to legally possess a firearm, to purchase a gun, and to purchase ammunition.

The lawsuit was filed by both the Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA) and the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), who claimed there are thousands of people who have either applied for a new or renewal FOID card and have been “in limbo for months.”

Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly and Bureau Chief of Illinois State Police Firearms Services Bureau, Jessica Trame, are specifically named in the lawsuit. 

The two have blamed the delays on the loss of funding that were meant for the FOID program and background checks.  They do not specify how the funds were lost, but they did say the total was $29.5 million.

According to the lawsuit, ISP “has swept or transferred funds totaling more than $29,500,000.00 from the State Police Firearms Services Fund, the State Police Operations Assistance Fund, and the State Police Services Fund away from these funds and into other accounts.

“The money was to be used for three purposes: administration of the Firearm Owners Identification Card (‘FOID Card Act’), background checks for firearm-related services, and concealed carry licensing pursuant to the Firearms Concealed Carry Act (‘FCCA’).

“Instead, the more than $29,500,000.00 has been subject to interfund transfers which are ostensibly to be repaid but which have not been, or swept into other accounts without an obligation to reimburse the funds at all.”

Two Illinois residents have said that their Second Amendment rights have been denied, prompting the rights groups to file the federal suit on their behalf. 

Ryan Thomas and Goran Lazic had FOID cards and lost them in 2017.  Thomas moved out of state and lost his card before moving back. 

Lazic had a charge brought against him which has since been dismissed and expunged.  The two have been jumping through unsuccessful hoops to get their FOID cards back.

According to the lawsuit, people are having to wait months for something as simple as a new application or a renewal.  They also said anything “more complicated” such as a reinstatement can take years to work out.

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The lawsuit continues:

“The effect of this has been a systematic slowdown and sometimes halt of processing of applications and appeals of the FOID Card Act. 

Applicants and appellants spend days on the phone attempting to reach someone at the [Illinois State Police] with no success. In the unlikely event that a person answers, the applicant/appellant is usually told only that their case is under review.”

We all know how frustrating that can be.

As it currently stands, there is no set timeline for the agency to respond to an application, renewal, or appeal.  The lawsuit claims that this causes people to:

“…quickly find their appeals sucked into a black hole from which escape comes, if at all, with an interminable wait.”

If the lawsuit is successful, the Second Amendment rights groups will have won immediate FOID cards being reissues to Thomas and Lazic, and the two will also get monetary compensation.

If the lawsuit is not successful, democrats will need to find a safe space while they try to think of another way to infringe upon our Constitutional rights.

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