Missouri lawmaker wants those with gun free zones liable after shootings

An incoming Republican has introduced a bill that would place civil liability on businesses that ban lawful guns in the event of a patron getting hurt.

The measure, prefiled in the House last week, would allow a person authorized to possess a gun in the constitutional carry state to sue for injuries sustained on the property of a business that voluntarily prohibits firearms.

The sponsor of the proposal, Rep-elect Nick Schrorer, a Republican from O’Fallon who won with the strong endorsement of the National Rifle Association, hopes the bill will lead to businesses dropping their gun free zones.

“Hopefully, business owners are going to start looking at these decisions,” he told the Springfield News-Leader.

Schrorer’s measure, HB 96, would encourage publicly accessible businesses to drop current gun free zones out of fear of potential lawsuits arising after an incident, in effect, declaring one at their own risk and assuming custodial responsibility for their patrons. Those seeking to litigate would have a two-year window from the event and need to show they were legally able to carry a weapon at the time but were not armed due to a “no guns” sign posted in the business.

The Missouri bill is not the first time lawmakers have taken a stab at imperiling gun free zones with the threat of heightened exposure to lawsuits from the public.

A similar proposal introduced in Tennessee earlier this year garnered media attention but was rewritten to specifically provide immunity from civil liability to business owners who have a gun free zone as long as it is posted. Gov. Bill Haslam signed the much watered down version of the measure on April 27.

In August, a Texas state senator made clear he would introduce an enhanced liability bill centered on gun free zones in the 2017 session.

Missouri’s session begins in January and the GOP has a super-majority in both chambers to match incoming Republican Gov. Eric Greitens.