News & Updates

H.B. 115 Dangerous Weapon Custodian Liability

This bill is the same as a Bill (H.B. 190 Liability of Firearm Custodian) that failed to be passed in the 2019 Legislative Session. The following is the same text from our post last year because it's the same Bill, just a different title.

Let's start off with an off-topic question:
If you allow one of your friends to borrow your car, and they got in an accident and hit another vehicle because of texting and driving or otherwise being distracted, should you be held accountable along with your friend or just your friend who caused the accident?

You probably just said that THEY are responsible. How could you be responsible for something that you had no idea was going to happen.

Back to this Bill. It's common sense that a person should be charged with a crime if they provide a firearm to someone when they know the person is going to commit a crime using the firearm. What if you let a friend borrow a firearm to go hunting or target shooting? Are you liable if your friend commits a crime or causes an injury or damage to property? Most people would say "NO". If you did know that was their plan, you wouldn't let them use your firearm!!

This Bill would create a new term which means by you owning or possessing a firearm makes you a "firearm custodian." It also makes the civil liability on the owner of a firearm saying, if you let someone borrow your firearm for any reason, even without any knowledge or hint that they were going to use it illegally or irresponsibly, you would be liable for any personal injury or property damage caused by the discharge of your firearm if the discharge results from conduct that constitutes a felony, regardless of whether the individual who engages in the conduct is charged with a felony. YOU are liable and could be sued because of how they used the firearm.

Because this Bill makes you liable for injuries and damages that someone else caused just because they borrowed your firearm, we oppose this Bill.

 We Oppose This Bill

H.B. 115 Dangerous Weapon Custodian Liability

This Bill
• Defines terms;
• Provides for circumstances under which a firearm custodian can be liable for damage caused by another individual's use of the firearm custodian's firearm; and
• Provides for a defense to an action brought under the statute.

Sections Enacted:
53-5a-103.5. Liability of firearm owners.

KEY:
• Words that are underlined (example) would be creating a new law.

 

Section 53-5a-103.5 is enacted to read:
53-5a-103.5. Liability of firearm owners.
(1) As used in this section:
(a) "Firearm" means the same as that term is defined in Section 76-10-501.
(b) "Firearm custodian" means a person who owns or knowingly possesses a firearm.
(c) "Unfit individual" means an individual unfit to possess a dangerous weapon due to the individual's:
(i) mental or physical illness or incapacitation;
(ii) status as a minor;
(iii) history of committing dangerous acts, either negligently or purposefully; or
(iv) actions, behaviors, or statements supporting a reasonable suspicion that the individual is likely to use the firearm to cause injury or harm to the individual or to unlawfully cause injury or harm to another individual.
(2) A firearm custodian is liable for personal injury or property damage caused by the discharge of the firearm custodian's firearm if:
(a) the firearm custodian entrusts the firearm custodian's firearm to an unfit individual;
(b) at the time of the entrustment, the firearm custodian knew or should have known the individual entrusted with the firearm was an unfit individual; and
(c) the unfit individual's discharge of the firearm custodian's firearm proximately caused the personal injury or property damage.
(3) Entrusting a firearm to another individual includes:
(a) offering physical custody of a firearm to an individual by either verbal permission or physical transfer; or
(b) storing or placing a firearm in an open and unsecured manner that allows the firearm to be plainly visible and accessible to another individual.
(4) It is a defense to liability under this section if the firearm custodian demonstrates, by clear and convincing evidence, that the firearm custodian:
(a) entrusted the firearm custodian's firearm to an individual with whom the firearm custodian had a personal relationship; and
(b) had no reason to suspect that the individual to whom the firearm custodian entrusted the firearm would use the firearm to cause injury or harm to the individual or to unlawfully cause injury or harm to another individual.

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