News Story

Lawmaker Wants To Make Gun-Free Zones Liable If Someone Hurt

Bills would remove governmental immunity, make private zone owners responsible for security

A Republican state representative has introduced legislation that would hold government offices and private businesses liable if anyone is injured during a shooting in a gun-free zone on their premises.

State Rep. Gary Eisen, R-St. Clair Township, introduced House Bill 4975, which would revoke governmental immunity from lawsuits arising from injuries sustained on government property where guns are banned. Eisen is also the sponsor of House Bill 4976, which would make a government, business or individual that designates a property a gun-free zone responsible for the safety of individuals who enter it.

Eisen said the intention was to require a business or government that enforces a gun-free policy to take responsibility through measures like hiring security guards.

“I have to presume that no one will have a gun inside and I will be safe,” Eisen said. “They are telling me, ‘Don’t worry, Mr. Eisen, this is a gun-free zone. You’ll be perfectly safe in here.’ We know that is not the case.”

Eisen said by not allowing him to carry a gun, government and companies that declare their property a gun-free zone could be held liable under his bills.

“If they don’t want to be liable, then don’t put the sign in the window,” Eisen said.

The St. Clair County lawmaker is a firearms instructor who teaches classes for those seeking a concealed pistol license; he also trains people on handling weapons.

Eisen said part of the rationale for his bill lies with a report that 98% of mass public shootings happen in gun-free zones. The Washington Post reported that President Donald Trump recited that statistic in a May 4 speech to the National Rifle Association.

The Washington Post said the figure comes from the Crime Prevention Research Center’s updated 2014 report. That report stated that 98.4 percent of mass shootings from 1950 to July 10, 2016, happened in gun-free zones.

“We call them killing zones, not gun-free zones,” Eisen said.

Neither the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and nor the Giffords: Courage to Fight Gun Violence organization returned emails seeking comment on the bills.