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Sat, Nov. 16

Editorial: Protect businesses that protect our gun rights

Each year we see a variety of bills involving guns move through the Legislature, and 2017 is no different; in fact, one this year (SB 1159) shoots at the heart of liability.

Rep. David Stringer, R-Prescott, in commenting on the legislation, which passed the Senate 16-14 and, this week, advanced out of the House Judiciary Committee, clearly describes what it would do.

He said SB 1159 leaves intact the current liability of business owners who want to post signs asking patrons to keep guns out of their establishments. What it does, however, is give a new legal shield to those who are OK with customers who are armed.

Central to the debate is who gets sued if someone is in a business when a shooting occurs and someone is injured.

Committee discussions ranged from Sen. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, the sponsor, saying: “When you post a sign that says ‘gun-free zone,’ that means a free-fire zone,” to activist Alan Korwin saying the real goal is to end the “reckless’’ policies of businesses that deny customers their Second Amendment rights.

Another way of looking at it came from Rep. Maria Syms, R-Paradise Valley: “I think a business owner should be able to decide whether or not they want guns in their establishment,” adding that business owners who exercise that right should be entitled to the same legal protections from lawsuits as others who permit customers to keep their guns.

Could a business owner be subject to a lawsuit if someone gets shot inside their establishment? Yes, anyone can be sued.

The question for us is who allowed it to happen?

Basically, as we have stated in this space before, the state is allowing citizens to carry openly and concealed. The state is allowing them to do so without training. The state should be liable.

The business? This legislation would bar them from being sued unless there is a proof the business owner “intends to cause injury or acts with gross negligence.” But if there is a “no guns’’ sign at the door, the business can be held liable for simple negligence.

This world is too litigious, we all know that. We are in favor of the bill becoming law.

At the same time, the state still needs to shore up its lack of requirements when it comes to training in the carrying, handling, and shoot-don’t-shoot abilities of gun owners.

It makes sense, especially the way Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Oro Valley, called it: “I think it’s good public policy to hold people responsible for the decisions that they make,” he said, adding that includes depriving a customer of the right of self-defense.

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