New Bill Would Allow Gun Permit Holders to Sue if Harmed after Being Banned from Legally Carrying

A new bill introduced in the Minnesota legislature would allow lawfully permitted gun carriers to sue business or property owners if they are harmed or suffer losses as result of an incident that could have been prevented had they not been banned from lawfully carrying their firearm.

No Gun Zone

A new bill introduced in the Minnesota legislature would allow lawfully permitted gun carriers to sue business or property owners if they are harmed or suffer losses as result of an incident that could have been prevented had they not been banned from lawfully carrying their firearm.

State Rep. Jeremy Munson (R-Lake Crystal) of the New House Republican Caucus introduced HF 3051 which would amend the state’s permit-to-carry law, Minnesota statute 624.714. The bill would add language to the statute that would allow individuals to civilly sue a “property owner or entity” that has voluntarily posted signs banning guns on their property. The proposed action would not extend to properties that are required by state or federal law to post signs. 

The proposal would update the requirements under the sign posting and trespass clause of the statute that would require a change to the language used to inform the public that guns are banned in an establishment, whether that notice is given verbally or through signage. 

Under the Minnesota permit-to-carry law, also known as the Minnesota Citizens’ Personal Protection Act, operators of private establishments that are generally open to the public are allowed to ban firearms from their establishments, even when the firearm owner has a valid permit to carry. The provision includes non-governmental entities such as churches, businesses, private colleges and nonprofits.

These private establishments, businesses and entities may prohibit the possession of firearms on their premises by making a “reasonable request” either through posting signage with specific language in accordance with state law, or they may verbally express to patrons or visitors that guns are banned on the premises and demand compliance with the request. 

Under current law, signage must meet certain size and placement requirements within a business or property but can simply state the identity of the operator of the private establishment and state that the operator “BANS GUNS IN THESE PREMISES.” For example: “ACME PRODUCTS, INC., BANS GUNS IN THESE PREMISES.”

The new proposal would require gun ban signs to include language stating that a person prohibited from carrying a firearm is “under the custodial responsibility” of the business or entity banning guns on the premises. In the case where a verbal notification is made to a customer or visitor in lieu of signage, the verbal request would also be required to include the custodial responsibility language when informing the patron or visitor that guns are banned on the premises.

The proposal goes on to detail that a property owner or entity that prohibits the carrying of firearms by persons lawfully allowed to do so “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. 

The bill would add further language to existing statute stating that the responsibility of the property owner or entity for the safety and defense of any person banned from lawfully carrying a firearm would extend to the conduct of other invitees, trespassers and employees of the business or entity. The bill goes so far as to say that the responsibility of the business to ensure the safety of their unarmed guests would extend to the conduct of vicious and wild animals.

The proposal adds a civil recourse option for persons harmed as a result of having been prevented from legally carrying their firearm into the business or property, whether that harm is in the form of bodily injury, death, economic loss or expense, property damage, or any other “compensable loss,”
that could have been avoided by carrying a firearm.

The proposal states that the victim or their representatives would have the burden of proving that the loss was caused as a result of the conduct that occurred on the property and could have been avoided if the person had been allowed to carry a firearm onto the property. 

HF 3051 is co-authored by the other three members of the New House Republican Caucus which includes Rep. Steve Drazkowski, Rep. Tim Miller and Rep. Cal Bahr. Late last week, Republican Rep. Eric Lucero was also added as a co-author.

The bill was referred to the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Committee. However, it’s unclear whether the bill will get a hearing in the Democrat controlled committee during the 2020 legislative session.

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Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota.