General

Missouri Bill Seeks to Hold Gun Free Owners Liable for Damages

Gun with a red circle bar over it

In 2016, SB 1736/HB2033 was passed in the Tennessee legislature. The bill was an attempt to hold businesses that chose to ban defensive firearms from their premises responsible for damages. That was a step too far for the Tennessee legislature. The bill was cut back to say that businesses that did not ban firearms would be immune from lawsuit for actions that resulted from their lack of a ban. By Dean Weingarten Gun with a red circle bar over it In Missouri, Representative Schroer has introduced a bill, HB 96, that is very similar to the original HB 2033 in Tennessee.

The proposal, known as House Bill 96, which would apply when a person who is authorized to carry a firearm, is prohibited from doing so by a business and is then injured by another person or an animal. If the injured person could otherwise have used a gun for self-defense, they could sue the business, which “assume(s) custodial responsibility for the safety and defense of any person” on their property who could carry.

Here is the opening paragraph of HB 96. From mo.gov: 1. Any business enterprise electing to prohibit the possession of firearms or other arms by the placement of signs as authorized under section 571.107, or other provisions of chapter 571, shall assume custodial responsibility for the safety and defense of an person who is authorized to carry fire arms or other arms under chapter 571 while such person is on the premises of the business enterprise. The provisions of this section shall not apply to private property not used for commercial purposes or private residences of any type. For purposes of this section, “business enterprise” means any business that sells or provides goods or services to the general public.

The bill has not been scheduled for any committee hearings or any of the process that will be required to guide it through the legislature. It has only been introduced. If passed, it creates a powerful incentive for property owners or managers not to put up “No Gun” signs, or to take them down if they are now in place.

If property owners or managers put up a “no gun” sign, or leave one in place, they are held responsible for damages to legal gun carriers who disarmed because of the sign. They are held responsible for damages that occurred to the legal gun carrier because of being disarmed on the way to and from the premises where they were legally prevented from being armed. Only those locations that are required to be Gun Free Zones by state or federal law are exempted.

No thinking property owner, unless they are strongly politically or ideologically motivated, will go against these incentives.

The bill follows a trend in several other states. Kansas grants immunity from liability to property owners and managers from damages that may result from legal gun owners possessing firearms on or in their property. Wisconsin does the same. Tennessee, as mentioned above provides a level of immunity to businesses which do not ban firearms.

The Missouri Legislature has been friendly to Second Amendment supporters. Watch this space for future developments.

How do you feel about the proposed laws? Share your answers in the comment section.

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (31)

  1. What a pile of MALARKY! The long “scientific” explanation of the law is quite laughable. In the American injustice system, there is ZERO consistency with how cases are decided. Take the same case to 10 different courts and I’ll bet you’ll get 11 different verdicts.

  2. Petedub and G-man: You both seem to know the law and are articulate in voicing your opinions. Thanks to you both. My question to you: are you both lawyers, or are you merely private citizens who have studied firearms law to the nth degree?

    1. @ Smitty 550,

      I am not a lawyer, but may as well be. As a federal agent I regularly assist in prosecutions. Many are unaware that in federal cases a prosecutorial team may require the lead agent sit with them and act as a member of their team to assist throughout an entire trial. This has taught me quite a bit throughout my 34 year career.

      To even begin my career required I have a degree. My first degree was in criminal justice, but I have subsequently acquired additional degrees in computer forensics, programming, and electronics. All of which I selected to further assist in my law enforcement career.

      Concurrently with my law enforcement career I am also a military reservist which allowed me to acquire a great deal of additional training and knowledge. In short, these combined careers have afforded me exceptional opportunities to run nationwide joint task forces comprised of military and multi-agency law enforcement personnel and assets.

      After 9/11 forced the restructuring of all the departments, my expertise led to assignments whereby I headed up anti-terrorism and counter-drug working groups to organize and implement many of the joint agency intelligence centers formed after 9/11.

      And from time-to-time I also get tasked with reviewing various pieces of legislation as a subject matter expert. I also contribute my expertise to writing special reports for Executive and Congressional consumption; many of which have been archived in the Library of Congress.

    2. @Smitty550

      I am a retired lawyer, having graduated with honors from law school where I was a member of the Editorial Board of the Law Review and was made a member the Order of the Coif. So, I’m just a has-been.

      My undergraduate degree is in engineering, from one of our nation’s service academies where I graduated with honors before serving as a combat officer during the Cold War. Among other responsibilities, during much of my active duty I was directly responsible for overseeing small-arms training, deployment and maintenance.

      I prevailed in hundreds of cases to verdict as first chair trial lawyer, and won more than 90% of the cases I handled on appeal. I have never personally argued a case before the US Supreme Court, but I have helped write winning briefs in important cases before that Court.

      Based on my experience I would caution that NOBODY — with or without both a doctorate degree in law AND a license to practice law — can accurately claim to be an “expert’ in any particular area of law.

      To understand this, please recognize that the practice of law is both art and science.

      The science of law is in accurately ascertaining what courts have done in the past on specific issues. In my experience, very few lawyers do that particularly well — and , with all due respect, I have never met a non-lawyer who has done it competently on a consistent basis.

      The art of law is in ascertaining how prior decisions might guide courts to decide other issues in the future. Because that art requires prognostication, any claim to such expertise is, literally, a claim of prescience (the ability to see into the future). Obviously we do not have the technology to do that.

      So, nobody really knows what a court will do on any particular issue in the future. The opinion of a duly-licensed practicing lawyer who has been retained and paid to conduct the necessary research and analysis is the most enlightened guess anyone can get on such a matter. Anything else is just a bunch of “Joes” shooting the breeze — fun and possibly entertaining, but not reliable.

  3. If you deal with a proprietor who posts one of those stupid signs, just ask the proprietor to sign a business card printed up as follows, which you can carry around and present as you deem appropriate (hint – merely presenting the card will make the point, especially if lots of us do it):

    PROPRIETOR’S ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

    Having posted a “no concealable weapons” or similar sign without having provided any actual security measures, on behalf of the below-named establishment I hereby acknowledge as follows:

    1. The posted sign does nothing to protect law-abiding citizens from the actions of individuals who may be committed to engaging in acts of criminal violence without regard to what a sign might say.
    2. This establishment willingly accepts any and all civil and criminal liability resulting from its decision to prevent law-abiding citizens from defending themselves from individuals who may be committed to engaging in acts of criminal violence without regard to what a sign might say.

    _______________________________
    Name of Establishment

    _______________________________
    Signature of authorized representative

  4. This Law should be a NATIONAL law that extends beyond businesses. Cities, municipalities or states that severely restrict or outright prohibit concealed carry (think San Francisco) should be absolutely held liable.

    1. This already IS the law, nationally.

      Under EXISTING common law, an owner of property is liable for failing to provide / allow reasonable safeguards to keep occupants safe. This includes creating feel-good, but proven-ineffective “gun free zones” where only signs “protect” law-abiding citizens from wrongdoers.

      Under EXISTING civil rights law (42 USC 1983) a state or federal official can be held personally liable for harming a citizen by depriving that citizen of any right protected by federal law. This includes the federally-recognized basic human right of armed self-defense (as recognized in the Heller and McDonald cases, in addition to the 2nd Amendment).

      When the Supreme Court’s Heller decision listed the places where guns may be constitutionally prohibited, the “sensitive places” the Court listed included only those places where security is sufficient to justify forcing law-abiding citizens to rely on those security measures to provide for our security against violent attack, rather than relying on our basic human right of armed self-defense.

      People need to stop picking fights we have already won.

  5. The common law of already makes property owners liable for injuries resulting from their failure take / allow reasonable steps to provide for patrons’ safety. This includes liability for injuries caused by idiots creating “gun free zones” where a patron’s only “protection” is a stupid sign criminals are known to ignore.

    This kind of legislation is a phenomenally bad idea because it is a needless legislative intrusion into existing common law. If this kind of legislation does not pass or is watered down in the political process in a particular state, for example, then a property owner who otherwise would be liable under the common law would then have a good argument that the legislature has said otherwise.

    People who really believe in the basic human right of armed self defense, and understand law, prefer that the courts apply EXISTING LAW rather than getting legislators involved. Indeed, the mere effort to codify this issue of liability suggests, wrongly, that the common law is not what it already is.

    The castle doctrine is a good example of the kind of mess legislators create. Courts have properly applied the castle doctrine for centuries. But now that legislators have taken it upon themselves to define what the castle doctrine “should” be in certain states, the castle doctrine has been limited, twisted and outright ignored in a number of jurisdictions.

    But, under common law, a decision on the castle doctrine in any state has a degree of authority in other states that decisions under statues simply do not have. If a court in state X rules in favor of the castle doctrine under the common law, then that ruling serves as precedent in all common law states. But if the same decision is made under a statute, it applies only in that state.

    Keep legislators out of issues like this, they can ONLY make things worse. The patchwork quilt of inconsistent and conflicting concealed-carry law across the nation is a good example.

    1. @ petedub,

      There may have been a time in U.S. law where your opinion was applicable. But that has long since passed. While on paper we are still defined as a nation under a common law system, our actual practices clearly show otherwise.

      We are instead very much a nation which operates under a combination of common law as much as statutory law and a few subsets thereunder based on region. The only reason we are ultimately still considered a Common Law Nation is that in the event of a conflict between the various types of law, the tiebreaker is always determined through appeals to the common law process which exists in the justice systems throughout every level of government.

      What this means is that common law should prevail over a badly written statutory law in most cases, but that all depends upon the caliber of the judge or judges.

      Your implications that common Law is somehow preferred over statutory law in matters of “basic human right of armed self defense” are incongruous at best. Instead, attorneys appreciate the existence of all forms of law from which they can draw upon to effectively argue their cases – and thus would most definitely not prefer to be limited to just one type of law over the other as you’ve implied.

      More often these days citizens complain about corrupt judges legislating (creating laws) from the bench, but that is precisely what common law is. Common laws are in-fact decided by a single judge or a small panel of judges; whereas statutory laws are determined by a large body of legislators, most of whom have earned law degrees.

      Once upon a time in America such common law decisions were determined by a more conservative set of judges who’s principles closely matched the morals, philosophies, and values of our Founding Fathers. But that is quite evident to no longer be the case.

      Unfortunately, we can no longer depend on the common law process as we used to because there are far too many corrupt judges who rather than honor and apply the more sound and settled preexisting precedent already set, will instead work their personal ideological elements into each new case just so they can reclassify them as uniquely requiring their warped rendition of new case law.

      It is for this very reason the increase in statutory laws makes sense and helps settle most cases before they get into the hands of these corrupt judges who legislate their replacement of old common laws from the bench.

      So while you may prefer that judges continue to shape our common law over legislators creating statutory law, I think most would instead agree that a combination of both is necessary these days for true justice to be served.

    2. GMan,

      I appreciate your points, but mostly disagree.

      We can agree that bad judges have messed up the common law. Your solution is to depend on good legislators to fix that mess. But my view is that we KNOW legislators are going to be at least as bad as good, and that our only real hope is to keep the legislators out of it and to limit the damage done by bad judges.

      We, the People need to pay MUCH MORE attention to who our judges are,. NEVER vote for Democrats, who are shamelessly committed to appointing corrupt federal judges to disregard the law in favor of their political agendas. And don’t vote for state and local judges who spoil the law with their political agendas.

      In other words, the problem is not the common law itself, but that we have allowed bad judges to corrupt the common law. So, in the long run, we need to double down on our commitment to our common law tradition, and stop allowing bad judges on the bench.

      Relying on legislators to make good law is a lost cause from the get-go, precisely because they ARE politicians. The key is the difference between law and politics. Law is the science of getting the right answer, no matter who gets upset (exemplified by the blindfold over Lady Justice’s eyes showing that the identity of the parties is irrelevant). Politics, in contrast, is the art of creating an answer that upsets the fewest decision-makers (i.e., the politicians themselves).

      Especially on matters of basic human rights, politicians will ALWAYS take away rights, because even the most freedom-friendly politicians must cater to those politicians who oppose rights and freedom. Only the law can get the right answer on such matters.

      Politicians will always favor the political “popular” answer over the legal “right” answer. The only hope is to have judges who will follow the law, and not be political. But most people — probably and maybe even especially most lawyers — don’t even really know there is a very real difference between law and politics.

    3. @ petedub,

      Interestingly it is not at all my preferred “solution [is] to depend on good legislators to fix that mess”. But rather I was pointing out the consequences, whether desirable or not, which led to the increasing number of legislative statutes.

      Such increase in statutes were essentially forced into passage as a result of urgent recourse in order to counter the accumulated years of perverted common law decisions by progressively corrupt judges.

      One very serious consideration which you appear to have overlooked is that the most impactful of judgeships are those which must be appointed and confirmed by none other than the body of politicians you’ve written off as a “lost cause”.

      And While I want nothing more than to turn back the hands of time and remove these corrupt judges, I must remain in a state of reality which dictates these despoiled judgeships are in-fact lifetime appointments. Most citizens don’t have the patience or tolerance to wait them out, nor should they have to.

      So in the end, when citizens are faced with the prospect of waiting out such judiciary longevity, they instead have a natural tendency to seek a more expedient method for countermanding the corrupt judicial system that has such a grip on their livelihoods.

      The result of which appears to be no other choice but to resort to seemingly hasty legislation for balance and relief. It may not be perfect or even effective, but it is the only alternative until these judges die, retire or become impeached. Any of which never seems to happen fast enough.

    4. GMan,

      Federal judges (those appointed by politicians for life) generally do not have jurisdiction to decide these kinds of cases, which involve state-law issues such as premises liability and castle doctrine. These cases are decided by elected state and local judges, almost exclusively.

      These elected state and local judges have to run for re-election on a regular basis; they can be identified and opposed. If citizens do not have the patience or tolerance to go to the polls and vote out corrupt judges who politicize from the bench, there is no way we are going to get rid of the corrupt politicians who are bent on whittling away at our freedoms. It is a lost cause already if you are right.

      The notion of legislators saving the people from bad judges has backfired over and over again. People need to understand the difference between politics and law, and only vote for judges and legislators who respect the boundaries. If Americans are too lazy to do that, then we deserve what we get.

      The judicial system itself is not corrupt, some judges are. And by and large the corrupt judges are Democrats, who typically are Democrats because they think they are smarter than the People and so they are “entitled” to impose their views on the “lesser” others — you know, the “deplorables” who dared to vote against Hillary.

      Expose those judges, and the People will take care of the problem. Support for gun freedom is at an all time high among the American people, because they have seen example after example of the stupidity of disarming law-abiding citizens.

      The inherent nature of the political process as a compromise is precisely why the Founders created a judicial branch with very limited powers. Shifting power from the judicial branch to the legislative branch is a recipe for failure. Judges who legislate form the bench stick out like a sore thumb, and can be removed easily — if people just pay attention.

    5. @ petedub,

      Regarding term lengths of judgeships, I thought it appropriate to reference the highest level any case may be appealed to. So I must correct you and say that – yes, these higher courts can and often do eventually gain jurisdiction to decide whether they want to hear many of the most impactful lower court cases brought before them. This makes them quite relevant to the issue at hand.

      But since you brought the lower courts up, allow me to enlighten you as to their actual judiciary selection process. But first I must warn you, based on your comments you will be quite surprised to know that very few judges at any lower level are selected through a public election process. Nor are their terms as short as you think. Most in-fact DO NOT “have to run for re-election on a regular basis” as you’ve claimed.

      In my profession I have access to a fairly robust set of legal software tools which allows me to lookup each jurisdiction at federal, state, county, municipal and tribal level to see every judge, their term, and their nomination process. The following is only a cursory list I threw together which covers the vast methods currently in use for selecting judges across this Country at lower levels.

      These include: Nominating commissions, Merit selection process, Political appointment by governor, Political appointment by legislature, Political appointment by governor with advice and consent of senate, Political appointment by governing body (most municipalities and counties), Partisan elections, and Non-partisan elections. There are more, but these are the primary methods. Their re-appointment process can be any combination of the above.

      As for their terms, the majority are 8, 10, and 12-year terms. And yes, some are even lifetime or can last up to the age of 70. So, all I ask is that you please keep this in mind the next time you try to convince someone how easy it is to change our judicial system. Moreover, I ask you keep this in mind to better understand why we are becoming increasingly dependent upon the legislative body.

      While you subscribe to a philosophy that believes such a shift of power is a “recipe for failure”, I submit instead that it is precisely what the Founding Fathers intended and anticipated we would need during times the judicial system fell to corruption. Otherwise they would never have provided such legislative powers and lower governments would never have adopted the model.

      So in the end, it is exactly the beautiful system I’ve been describing all along in previous posts. It provides a balance and a method for temporary correction. It is not forever.

      In closing I must say I feel as though we are having two completely different discussions at the same time. While I’ve only set out to state the – what, where, when, and whys, that led up to our Country’s predicament, you continually respond with the – would have, could have, and should haves that might have prevented this judicial quandary we now find ourselves in.

      But no matter how many times you repeat how it could or should be, that will never change the fact that such a shift or movement is already well underway. You can say that only some judges are corrupt, but the actions of the people, whether real or perceived, shows they seriously feel otherwise.

      As I have already stated, it is not forever. It is how it was meant to be in order to balance the system. Have faith in it.

    6. i totally agree. In CT they removed the Castle Doctrine, “Stand your Ground”, and self defense laws a while back. If you shoot someone on your land you will face an assault prosecution depending on the circumstance because you can’t stand ground or have Castle legislation back you up. You have to prove reasonable access to retreat first as well as imminent danger to LIFE only-of you or 3rd party. Unless under occupation, you can not use measures to secure or protect property/assets. I know of a guy that got 3 years for shooting (not killing) someone that tried to mug him with a weapon. Because he shot the guy, ran, and shot him again-because the guy ran after him, he got sentenced. Either you are in no liability or minimum 1 year sentence of Assault (class A/B misdemeanor- minimum), but can rise to a lower class felony which has the same jail time, but we all know the aftermath of a violent crime (felony) is on future life opportunity.

  6. First off NO ONE and I mean NO ONE INCLUDING the government can DICTATE weather or not I have the right to carry concealed or otherwise. There are no caveats contained in the second amendment and the phrase “the right of the “PEOPLE” to keep and bear (carry) arms SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED”!!! This clause nullifies any and all requirements for permits.

    Should a private entity disallow my right I simply do not patronize them and will let others know they are usurping my constitutional right of self protection and inviting those who are predisposed to harming others free access

    1. See, that’s where State law comes in and messes things up “in the best interest of the people” bs. That’s why where i live the State used fancy (dirty) politics to justify certain things. In my state the definition of armed is so watered down and changed that carrying a brick is considered armed well if you carry a brick. It is your right and they won’t infringe on that! Total bs

    2. Sir,
      You are correct, in theory, that “First off NO ONE and I mean NO ONE INCLUDING the government can DICTATE weather or not I have the right to carry concealed or otherwise.” and that “There are no caveats contained in the second amendment………”

      However, the reality is, as I am certain you are aware, that there ARE restrictions that have been placed on the Second Amendment. Legislators and private businesses HAVE in fact, placed restrictions on the one right that protects ALL the others.

      So, unless and until we are able to elect leaders that understand and respect the right under the Second Amendment and educate business owners or anyone else that seeks to restrict, or infringe our right under the Second Amendment, the restrictions will remain in place.

      Sad, that so many are unwilling to recognize the “shall not be infringed” part of the Second Amendment, but that IS the reality and for the time being we will have to live with it.

      Circumstances dictate that in some places, businesses that post the useless “gun free zone” signs may be the only place where one can get the product needed, in which case I would still carry into that business anyway. It’s called CONCEALED carry for a reason.

      “Better to be judged by twelve than carried by six.”

      WE need to work together to elect those legislators that do understand the Second Amendment in its entirety and defeat those who do not.

      Then and only then, will we enjoy the unencumbered right of the Second Amendment as written by our Founding Fathers.

  7. Honestly, even though its a middle finger to those businesses. I don’t like it. We don’t need government in everything. If they don’t let you carry. Then DONT shop there. Assert your beliefs by indicating your preference. Its their property they can make the rules.

    1. Ed, I agree. But, I live in a small town and this is the only glass shop in town, the next town is 20 miles away. I would have to make a 40 mile trip twice. More importantly they are required to ensure a certain level of safety to a person by the very nature of being in business. We get ice and snow in the winter, if they failed to properly clean and/or sand their parking area and walkways they could be held liable for a person being injured in a fall. If they could simply put up a sign saying they were not responsible for accidents and get away with it, don’t you think they would? By the same reasoning, the State gave me a CCW permit that allows me to carry a weapon for self-protection, if a person complies with their sign and is injured or God forbid killed, then that business should take responsibility for failing to protect a person. It would seem logical that responsibility for my safety shifts from me to them. That sign is certainly not going to deter someone with nefarious intent from entering that business. I only disarms the honest people.

  8. It makes me all warm and fuzzy inside every time I read about states adding pro-gun legislation which brilliantly outsmarts these anti-gun businesses.

    I disagree with the first paragraph’s mention of Tennessee “cutting back” the legislation because it “was a step too far”. All they really did was rearrange the wording which still accomplishes the same exact thing. Evidently the opposing anti-gun legislators fell for it – because they ultimately passed the bill.

    In the historic words of President George W. Bush, “Mission accomplished!”

    1. The wording only accomplishes the same result in respect to firearms of a certain classification (the most important classification defensive), but the law is more about implied liability and can make for shady politics on other classified weapons. 1 wording says that a business must accept liability is not truly the same thing as saying a business has immunity! 1 makes a devastating situation for criminal court while the other can make for serious civil court consequences.

    2. @ Primo,

      I stand corrected, but not for the reasons you’ve stated. Admittedly your response piqued my interest to re-read the article; but I also took it a step further and read the law, which I had not done the first time.

      I then realized my initial interpretation as expressed in my first post was completely wrong, which subsequently misled you to respond regarding a matter that neither of us were correct about…

      Actually it was not so much that we were wrong, but rather our exchange should have been another topic entirely because it had no bearing on the actual article’s content – if only I had read it correctly the first time around.

      This may get harry, but I’m going to attempt to explain what I did wrong that mislead you. The quotation marks that follow are not actual quotes from the article or law, but rather just my way of delineating the differences in what I am trying to say…

      Where I misled you was in my assumption that the scaled back version of the law was changed from “making businesses that did ban guns responsible for damages”, and instead I thought they changed it to “making businesses that did not ban guns immune from responsibility”. But that is not at all what was actually done.

      Instead, the actual change to the final law was that it “makes businesses immune to responsibility from patrons (anti-gunner types) that may attempt to sue due to the business NOT banning guns”. So, you did respond correctly, but you did it based on my misunderstanding. Phew! I hope I wrote all that to make proper sense.

      Now then, were we to pursue our dialogue within the confines of my original misunderstanding of the context, I would still respectfully disagree with you…

      First: I would have to point out that there was nothing in the law regarding your inference to a “certain defensive classification” of any kind. That was merely the author’s choice of writing style and thus had no bearing on anything.

      Second: Regardless of the law’s re-wording, if the result still yields the same effect, and I think most would agree that it would, then I remain correct.

      And finally, the specific law at issue strictly governs civil liability and therefore renders your mention of criminal liability a moot point in your argument.

    3. Any law that can be used in civil matters can always be used as proof in a criminal case. And 9/10 times when a civil suit like this spark they throw in this thing called criminal negligence somewhere some how. Will it pass a grand jury proceeding? Who knows? But usually anyone outside of big business loses a civil suit, criminal stuff comes after. I wasn’t implying that this law was going to directly effect criminal matters, but they can stack the proceedings of one amplify the other.

  9. I just had a conversation last week with a lady whose father owns a glass business about their no weapons allowed, whether you have a concealed carry permit or not, sign on their door. I told her exactly the same thing this article points out, that if I was in their business and left my weapon in the car to comply with their sign and was injured during a robbery or some other act of violence I would seek legal advice about suing them because the act of them denying my right to carry a weapon in their business indicated to me that they were taking responsibility for my wellfair and protection. The look on her face was priceless. I’ll have to look and see if that decal disappears.

  10. Yes! I have always said this is the only way to be fair – if they won’t let me defend myself they had better make sure I am defended 100%!

  11. Sounds reasonable to me to be able to sue. Unfortunately, I’m sure the bill will exempt state, local and federal locations where guns are prohibited from having the injured parties sue the governments.

    1. The carve-out for Federal and state governments is unnecessary, as they’re already largely exempt from suit under the principle of sovereign immunity. There are exceptions covered by the Federal Tort Claims Act (and similar state statutes), but in general, the government has to give you permission before you can sue it.

    2. Joe, that is simply incorrect.

      Both at the state / local level, and at the federal level, people who are harmed by being deprived of constitutionally-protected rights can sue the government and responsible government agents.

      At the state / local level, it is a civil rights case under 42 USC 1983.

      At the federal level, it is a so-called “Bivens action” — named after the case in which the Supreme Court recognized that sovereign immunity, such as it may be, definitely does NOT protect the government or its agents from liability for unconstitutional behavior.

      I HATE IT when people make pronouncements like this when not knowing what they are talking about. If you don’t know, please just leave it to the professionals.

    3. petedub, you say Joe is incorrect and in support, point to a federal statute. The existence of the statute actually confirm’s Joe’s position. In 42 USC 1983, the government created a cause of action for private citizens to sue and collect damages from the government/ officials for certain acts. The statute was needed to create an exception to sovereign immunity. Without 42 USC 1983, there would be no cause of action and thus no liability. If, as you argue, the people have an inherent right to sue the government, then we would not need 42 USC 1983 at all.

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