If you’re worried about gun violence, your natural instinct may be to retreat to your home or another private space, to reclaim a sense of safety and control of your surroundings. Unfortunately, the numbers tell us this strategy won’t make you safer.
Gun violence was the cause of 1,571 deaths in Georgia in 2016, a figure that’s risen 47% since 2005. While mass shootings receive most of the media attention, they only made up a little more than 1% of these deaths — a fairly typical share nationwide in any given year. The rest are made up of one-on-one homicide, suicide, and accidents, many of them occurring in the home.
Property Owner Responsibility
The issue of landlord responsibility in cases of gun violence has been given a lot of extra attention lately, ever since the high profile mass shooting at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
MGM, the company that owns and operates the Mandalay Bay Hotel, responded to a wave of lawsuits by filing a highly controversial suit of its own, asking for a federal ruling to dismiss any liability on the company’s part. The suit is based on the idea that the shooting qualifies as an act of terrorism, and the security company contracted to protect the Mandalay Bay is certified in anti-terrorism by the Department of Homeland Security.
Whether or not MGM’s claim stands up in court, its very existence is an acknowledgement that property owners can be legally responsible for gun violence that takes place on the property, depending on the details of the incident.
As with other kinds of tragedies, the landlord’s responsibility generally depends on whether he or she could have reasonably predicted the incident and taken steps to prevent it. For example, if the shooter is a tenant who has threatened violence in the past, or a non-tenant who gained access because a security system was in need of repair, the landlord may be held responsible for failing to address the situation sooner.
After a Shooting Has Occurred
No matter what you believe about how gun violence can best be prevented, most people can agree on the basics of what can and should happen afterward. Once a (reasonably competent) person has pulled the trigger and injured or killed another person, without a self-defense basis for doing so, the shooter should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
This is of little comfort in the many cases where the shooter also commits suicide or cannot be found, but depending on the situation, an apartment or hotel management company where the shooting took place may also share responsibility.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an apartment, hotel, or other shooting, and are unsure of how the law applies to your case, the Stoddard Firm can help. Reach out today, by phone or online, to schedule your free consultation.