While a growing number of states have passed open-carry laws, Florida’s legislature has resisted similar efforts. Openly carrying firearms is allowed only when people are going to and from hunting, fishing or camping under Florida law. If Florida ever does pass open-carry legislation, businesses and commercial landlords will need to wrestle with some of the issues that their counterparts have had to deal with in other states.
Businesses and commercial landlords in open-carry states must decide if they will ban the open carrying of firearms in their establishments. For some businesses, such as those that sell alcohol, owners and landlords have affirmative duties to ban the weapons on their premises. In some states, others may choose to ban weapons, but in some, they may not be able to do so.
If businesses or landlords ban weapons, they may have duties to invitees on their premises to reasonably enforce the bans. They may be liable if someone is shot when no effort was made to enforce the ban. In some states, such as Wisconsin, shop owners are immune from liability. Others do not extend immunity to shop owners, however. Another headache is that many premises liability insurance policies do not cover incidents involving guns, so business owners and landlords have to check their own insurance policies to determine whether or not they would be covered in a worst-case scenario.
While the Florida legislature has resisted open-carry bills thus far, it is possible that one will eventually pass. If it does, then business owners and landlords may need to take the time to determine how they will react. People who are injured on the property of a business may be able to hold the business owner and the commercial landlord liable to pay damages if they did not take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of their guests.