In Tennessee, SB 1736(pdf) has passed the House and the Senate. It is a bill that grants immunity for toleration of Second Amendment rights. It has been enrolled and sent to Governor Bill Haslam. Governor Haslam promised to sign "Constitutional" carry if it reached his desk, six years ago. It seems likely that he will sign this bill. The bill passed the Senate 26 to 4, the House 77 to 13. The bill follows a trend started by Wisconsin and Kansas, where people who chose to allow others to exercise their Second Amendment rights are granted immunity from civil action for any harm that may stem from that decision.
The Tennessee bill starts with the other side of that position. People who actively prevent permit holders from exercising their Second Amendment rights may be held liable for harm to the permit holders. Essentially, if you disarm someone, you are responsible for their defense. Here is the legislative summary of SB1736. From capitol.tn.gov:
Present law authorizes persons in control of property to post a notice that prohibits firearms on the premises. This bill imposes a duty of care on any person who posts their property to prohibit firearms whereby such person will be responsible for the safety of any handgun carry permit holder while the permit holder is on the posted premises and traversing any area to and from the premises and the location where the permit holder's firearm is stored. The duty of care created by this bill will extend to the conduct of other invitees, trespassers, employees of the person or entity, vicious animals, wild animals, and defensible man-made and natural hazards.Property managers required to post properties by Federal or State law are exempted.
This bill creates a cause of action whereby any permit holder who is harmed while on posted premises or traversing any area to and from the premises and the location where the permit holder's firearm is stored may bring suit against the person who posted the property. The full text of this bill specifies the burden of proof that a plaintiff must meet in order to prevail in a suit brought under this bill. In addition to damages, a permit holder who brings a suit under this bill will be entitled to attorney fees and costs. The statute of limitations for actions brought under this bill will be two years.
This bill requires that any person who posts their property to prohibit firearms on the premises must use a sign that includes language citing this bill and the duty of care that such person owes to permit holders.
This bill requires that it be given a liberal construction.
ON MARCH 16, 2016, THE SENATE ADOPTED AMENDMENT #1 AND PASSED SENATE BILL 1736, AS AMENDED.
AMENDMENT #1 rewrites this bill to provide immunity from civil liability to a person, business, or other entity that owns, controls, or manages property and has the authority to prohibit weapons on that property by positing under present law, with respect to any claim based on the person's, business's, or other entity's failure to adopt such a policy. This amendment will not apply to a person, business, or other entity whose conduct or failure to act is the result of gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct.
The legislature has given an incentive for property managers to tolerate the status quo. It relieves property managers of legal problems and responsibilities if they do nothing. Doing nothing gains them immunity from lawsuit. If they take positive action to chill the exercise of Second Amendment rights, they incur liability when their actions result in damages.
Governor Haslam has ten days, not counting Sundays, to sign, veto, or ignore the bill. By my count, the 10th day will be the 3rd of May, 2016.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch