Bill allows suits over gun-free zone incidents
If a Tennessee grocery store bans guns on its property and a black bear or wild hog kills or injures a person who otherwise would be carrying his or her gun, the gun owner would be allowed to sue the property owner if a newly introduced bill became law.
Sponsored by Sen. Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville, Senate Bill 1736
has a very specific purpose.
“It is the intent of this section to balance the right of a handgun carry permit holder to carry a firearm in order to exercise the right of self-defense and the ability of a property owner or entity in charge of the property to exercise control over governmental or private property,” the bill states.
To accomplish that goal, the legislation allows any Tennessean with a valid gun permit to sue a property owner in the event of injury or death provided the incident occurred while in a gun-free zone.
The legislation places responsibility on the business or property owner of the gun-free area to protect the gun owner from any incidents that occur with any “invitees,” trespassers and employees found on the property, as well as vicious and wild animals and “defensible man-made and natural hazards.”
The bill does not define defensible man-made and natural hazards.
A handgun carry permit holder who is injured by any of the aforementioned would be able to file a lawsuit within two years of when the event occurred, provided they meet the following requirements:
- the plaintiff had to be authorized to carry a gun at the time of the incident
- the plaintiff was prohibited from carrying a firearm because of the gun-free sign
- the property owner was not required to be posted by state or federal law but was posted by choice of the defendant
According to the language of the bill
, the right to sue the property owner does not extend to individuals without gun permits.