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The management is responsible

I regret that I was not able to fully participate in the discussion that my last post engendered; but a family vacation out of country intervened. But I’m back now, so I can address a couple of points that came up.

First, of course, I don’t believe that the usual business owner should discriminate against the usual firearms bearer, either as a visitor or employee (except as far as dress code; don’t open carry a white rifle after labor day, don’t open carry at people, &c); at least not as a matter of course. There are circumstances where certain specific areas of a business might be off-limits to carriage of firearms; you don’t necessarily want to allow large chunks of ferrous metal into the MRI room, or non-instrinically-safe items into a place with a volatile atmosphere, for example. Not to mention tightly-secured aras such as prisons, mental hostpitals, or certain areas of courthouses. However, I am also somewhat leery of using the blunt force of law to enforce this societal norm against private property owners. In this case, while I’m not unaware of the civil rights aspect, it’s not a free-for-all, either. Regardless of your right to free speech, a private property owner may ask you to leave if you exercise it in certain ways, for example; or if you are an employee your free speech rights may be quite sharply curtailed while on the property or on the clock.

However, I chose the title of the last post and this one to highlight that my suggestion is to change the “default” assumptions. Today, the “no guns” sign functions against lawyers as a bunch of garlic does against vampires; as a mythical ward against their depredations. The suit in Colorado aims to change this assumption, but not particularly in a way that the supporters of the RKBA should be happy about; the plaintiffs claim that the theater chain should have had more security, not that they should not have posted, and that the theater should be on the hook for compensating the victims and families.

In a better legal regime, the property owner might be excepted to take basic and minimal security precautions, such as ensuring any exterior lighting is in proper order, just as they should ensure that the parking lot does not have any sinkholes, &c. When it comes to controlling access to the property by possessors of weapons, thought, they can have a choice. On the one hand, that if a property owner does not prohibit firearms to the people who are inclined to observe such a restriction, they should be immunized (a la the Protection of Commerce in Lawful Firearms acts immunization of retails and manufacturers of firearms, as a very off-the-cuff suggestion). But, on the other hand, that if the property owner does post, they should be required by law and custom to make a serious effort to ensure that all visitors are protected. IE, that a secure perimeter be established, at the boundaries the visitors be given the opportunity to safely and securely disarm and stow their weapons and later safely and securely recover and rearm, and that the property owner be potentially liable in civil (and if appropriate, criminal) court for malicious acts perpetrated against visitors (and employees), not to mention the secured weapons.

This is something that could and should be codified in law, that if a business owner wishes to declare part or all of their property a “weapons-free” zone, they must make a sincere and thorough effort to ensure that it remains as such. In theory, I suppose the courts could force the issue, but in practice I don’t think they will, at least not in a manner we would recognize as supportive of the general RKBA.

4 Responses to “The management is responsible”

  1. great unknown says:

    One of arguments of the defendants is that such events are so rare as to be below the threshold of responsibility. If the courts agree, that would be a telling argument: if that’s true, what’s all the political posturing and legislation about?

    • Ian Argent says:

      It’s one of the reasons the specifics of this lawsuit do not warm the cockles of my heart; the results of the suit could be even more theater security theater. Right now the general theater security is ore interested in making sure you don’t smuggle in refreshments you haven’t paid exorbitantly for. If the chain loses, we’re in for cosmetic security improvements; such as the completely pointless checkpoint I had to deal with last summer at Liberty Science Center, where I was asked if my Leatherman Skeletool was a knife. I replied with “It’s a multitool,” and was allowed to clip the thing back into my pocket and pass on… (Not to mention the extensive set of bits I had on me for the screwdriver part, which I could have caused all kinds of mayhem with).

  2. I agree with all your points, Ian. And this is why IMHO private property laws should be modified such that if a property/business owner invites in the public for the purposes of engaging in commerce/business, that property/business owner should be required to respect the rights of the individual(s) they invite onto their property. This would still allow entities like homeowners to say “no guns” in their home if they choose, and wouldn’t prevent employers from setting policy with employees. But if one wants to do business and make money in America, they should be required to respect the civil rights of those they do business with. Don’t like it? Don’t run a business where you invite the public in; if we’re good enough to be let in to spend money, we should be good enough to have our fundamental rights respected.

    In addition to this, although signs do carry weight, it’s my understanding that many states codify the legal principle of “justification” (committing a crime to prevent a more heinous crime) as an affirmative defense, especially where it pertains to the use of force. Given this, it’s entirely possible for one to CC into a place where the owner doesn’t approve, and if force is required, claim the above as defense, assuming:

    – It’s generally legal to carry in the state in question
    – One is willing to accept the risk, liability, and potential possibility of trial.

    Note that I’m not a lawyer, and I’m not advocating the above. Just merely pointing out possibilities.

  3. Zermoid says:

    Personally I just ignore all the stupid signs and carry concealed anyways, do it right and nobody knows anyway.
    In PA there is no “Law” making signs anything more than a request, one which I decline. Worst that can happen is the business can try to press trespassing charges.

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