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Concealed carry in Illinois adds new relevance to 'gun-free zone' liability laws

It's past time for such signs to carry an unacceptable risk for those who post them
Photo © Oleg Volk. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

With a "shall issue" concealed carry policy in Illinois now coming on line (finally), there are new questions. One of those questions, according to ABC 7 Chicago, is if a business that bans defensive firearm carry on that establishment's premises can be held liable for violence committed against the disarmed-by-policy patrons rendered incapable of effective resistance against a homicidal predator who finds such rules even less worthy of respect than laws against violence, not to mention the scriptural Commandment against murder.

As the first 13,000 permits are arriving, no-guns-allowed signs are going up some at businesses in Chicago and across the state. But the I-Team has found that the new state law fails to address who has liability if there is an incident in a gun-free zone.

This is especially relevant, given political pressure . . . er, "encouragement" in Chicago (where decades of history prove that such pressure tends to be essentially extortionate in nature) on businesses to declare themselves "gun-free."

Perhaps surprisingly, in 2005, both chambers of the Illinois legislature introduced HB 477/SB 44, the "Gun-free Zone Criminal Conduct Liability Act," and this legislation was far from toothless:

Synopsis As Introduced
Creates the Gun-free Zone Criminal Conduct Liability Act. Provides that any person, organization, or entity or any agency of government, including any unit of local government, that creates a gun-free zone is liable for all costs, attorney's fees, and treble damages resulting from criminal conduct that occurs against an individual in the gun-free zone, if a reasonable person would believe that possession of a firearm could have helped the individual defend against such conduct. Defines "gun-free zone". Effective immediately.

You read that right--triple damages.

In fairness, the ABC article also presents the flip side--that the concealed carry law is similarly silent on whether or not there is any culpability on the part of a business establishment that does not ban firearm carry--as if someone bent on murder would be deterred by an establishment's rules:

The reverse is also true. If the building or business owner allows guns and an incident occurs, they could be sued by employees and patrons because guns were allowed.

An obvious need, therefore, for the addition of language absolving the business from liability for damages inflicted by murderous thugs who would not have been remotely deterred by any "gun free" policy, anyway.

In 2005, nearly a decade before Illinois was dragged kicking and screaming into the reality of acknowledging that we the people are endowed with a right to not only keep, but to bear arms, such legislation would have been merely symbolic, even had it passed.

That is no longer the case. and it is past time for the state to recognize that those who use their power, whether as government officials or as property owners, to mandate that the people under their power be defenseless, are accessories to their murder, should predatory scum take advantage of their forced disarmament.

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