Coughlin & Gerhart LLP

Building Relationships on Results

How gun laws might affect premises liability for business owners

On Behalf of | Feb 10, 2017 | Premises Liability

In New York and elsewhere, property owners owe a duty of reasonable care to invitees. Visitors may reasonably assume they will be kept safe while on another person’s property. New legislation has been proposed in another state that could bear significant impact on premises liability laws for business owners regarding this responsibility.

The newly proposed bill has to do with gun laws. More specifically, gun-free businesses where people who might otherwise have legitimate permits to carry concealed firearms are requested to disarm when they enter these establishments. In the past, business owners of gun-free establishments could not be held liable for injuries if an unarmed person was injured through violence while patronizing a gun-free business, even if the person injured was otherwise permitted to be armed in public. This topic continues to be hotly debated throughout the nation.

Some say disarming at the request of a business owner is voluntary, and therefore, not grounds for a business owner’s liability. No one is forced to shop at a particular place and those who wish to remain armed may choose businesses that do not request disarmament. Typically, a property owner must have been able to foresee potential harm to be held liable for a patron’s injuries.

The legislation proposed in Florida would deem store owners fully responsible for customers who have been asked to disarm. They could avoid premises liability by hiring armed guards or installing scanning devices to make certain no one entering their stores is carrying firearms, etc. In the meantime, anyone in New York who has suffered injury due to a business owner’s negligence may seek justice alongside the guidance of a personal injury attorney.

Source:, “Gun-Free Zone Businesses Should Be Held Liable for Violent Crime on Premises“, Andrew F. Branca, Feb. 3, 2017


FindLaw Network