Proposed bill would punish ‘gun free zone’ businesses if shooting occurs

JEFFERSON CITY (KTVI) - Missouri lawmakers heard a bill Monday to make some business owners liable for shootings on their property.

The House General Laws Committee was packed with gun control activists and business leaders for testimony on House BIll 96. Testimony was limited to just two minutes per speaker.

Last year, Missouri became a constitutional carry state, meaning anyone who is legally allowed to have a gun can carry it without a permit.

However, guns are still banned in places like schools and churches, and businesses with signs indicating they do not allow guns on the property.

The bill would make businesses who post signs prohibiting guns liable for injuries sustained by people on the property who would have otherwise been able to carry.

By posting signs, businesses would assume a duty to protect customers.

The bill would allow injured individuals to sue and if successful recover attorneys fees, expert witness costs and court costs.

"Criminals don't obey laws," said Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O'Fallon. "We can put as many laws as we want on the books; look at the war on drugs, any other law we have on the books. Criminals are still fighting against them. These policies of making gun free zones or an area gun free, provide a sense of safety to those who engage in magical thinking."

Schroer is the sponsor of the proposal and could not cite incidents where a plaintiff filed a suit because they were not able to carry their gun. Opponents of Schroer's bill said customers should be able to vote with their feet when it comes to guns on private property.

"Rather than punishing businesses for prohibiting guns on their property, legislators, I would ask you to focus on protecting our communities and keep us safe from gun violence by keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people in the first place," said Kristin Bowen, an activist with Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America.

The bill received a public hearing Monday, but has not yet seen time on the floor.