Concealed Carry Laws and Liability
February 23, 2015
Concealed weapons can be carried legally in all 50 states and Washington D.C. The implications of these laws with regard to liability for businesses open to the public and/or managers of those businesses is not yet clear.
In any case, if a shooting happens on a business’s property, the victim is likely to sue for damages. The legal concept of liability for criminal acts of a third party focuses on reasonable foreseeability.
There is very little case law analyzing a business’s liability for criminal acts of third parties in which a legally concealed weapon is involved. “No-gun” signs will be a primary issue, and there are conflicting views on how they will impact liability.
One view, which is likely held by most defense attorneys, is that posting signs decreases civil liability. The business receives the protection of trespass law, and is in a position to advance notice and foreseeability arguments.
Gun rights advocates take the opposite view, that posting signs increases liability. Licensed concealed carry gun owners can argue that they are left unprotected from criminals. Another probable argument by this group is that if no-gun signs are posted and a shooting takes place, the store failed to enforce its policy.
There are 10 states that have civil immunity statutes. The general concept is that a property holder can get immunity from liability when a shooting happens with a legally concealed weapon, but the statutes vary and may affect immunity differently.
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