Saturday, July 02, 2016

TN: The Day the Gun Free Zone Signs Came Down

The Tennessee Legislature sent SB1736 (HB2033) to Governor Bill Haslam (R) on April 21, 2016.  Governor Haslam signed it on 27 April, 2016.  It goes into effect today, 1 July, 2016.  Most places will start taking down their "No Guns" signs as of today.  SB1736, now Pub. Ch. 947 does this without stepping on private property rights.

It does so by making property owners or property managers responsible for a legal gun carrier's defense if they take positive action to disarm legal gun carriers and the gun carrier(s) suffer harm as a result.

Here is a summary of the bill.  From
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.

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.


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 provided a carrot and a stick to protect the right of armed self defense.  If a property owner or manager does nothing, they are granted immunity from civil liability that results from the presence of legal weapons on the property.  There are exceptions if the damages were the result of gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct.

That is a powerful incentive for property owners or managers not to put up "No Gun" signs, or to take them down if they are now in place.

If property owners or managers put up a "no gun" sign, or leave one in place, they are held responsible for damages to legal gun carriers who disarmed because of the sign.  They are held responsible for damages that occurred to the legal gun carrier because of being disarmed on the way to and from the premises where they were legally prevented from being armed.  Only those locations that are required to be Gun Free Zones by state or federal law are exempted.

No thinking property owner, unless they are strongly politically or ideologically motivated, will go against these incentives.

The bill follows a trend in several other states.  Kansas grants liability to property owners and managers from damages that may result from legal gun owners possessing firearms on or in their property.  Wisconsin does the same.  A bill introduced in Wisconsin would award triple damages to disarmed legal gun owners, following the example of Tennessee.

Second Amendment advocates have long held that if an establishment disarms people, the establishment should then be responsible for their defense.

I expect that "No Gun" signs are going to become very scarce in Tennessee.

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch

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