Sample Letter to Business
I put this letter together to present to a private club I am a member of. It is intended to be a more comprehensive argument for an establishment that you already frequent and is of some importance to you.
It remains to be seen if it will be effective, but I have received compliments on the presentation from several attorneys (not sure how I feel about that).
Feel free to use some or all of it in your adventures. You'll need to make the obvious changes to fit your state and circumstances.
I am writing to address the issue of the new club rule barring admittance to CCW permit holders unless they disarm before entry. I see that the web site is long out of date, so I ask that you pass this message along to the BOD members who are not listed above.
Based on the tone of the membership meeting, I strongly suspect that BOD members have neither completely read the CCW law nor comprehend the potential legal impact of their decision. The path you are taking may place the club in a position of serious liability risk.
Because of my lifelong interest in the topic, I have followed issues related to firearms and firearms law for decades. In my opinion, the decision to bar armed CCW holders has the potential to set the stage for a crippling civil lawsuit.
I very strongly suggest that you seek legal advice before you finalize this decision. Please consult a competent civil law plaintiff's attorney to get an outside opinion on the matter. I will suggest that a personal injury specialist will offer the best perspective from the standpoint of a potential injured party litigant.
The public debate that took place during the crafting of this law was extensive and comprehensive. There is a tremendous amount of information available through the Senate and Assembly records as well as an excellent synopsis at the DOJ web site. If you read through the materials below, I believe that you will at least have a starting point to do you own research towards an informed decision.
I would first direct your attention to Section 21 (Immunity) of the 2011 Wisconsin Act 35. http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2011...ed/acts/35.pdf This clause renders any establishment that ALLOWS CCW on its premises immune from any liability arising its decision.
In short, the law immunizes the club against any civil liability that might arise from any action or incident that involves a CCW holder using or displaying a firearm. In any grievance of this nature, the club would be legally excluded from civil action by any party. Section 21 eliminates ANY AND ALL legal and/or financial reasons to bar armed CCW holders from the premises.
For those businesses choosing to bar entry to armed CCW holders, the impact appears to be the opposite. Section 21 is written to specifically discourage establishments from barring armed CCW permit holders. The legal creation a specific class designated as immune from liability by its very existence creates a separate class that is not immune.
By barring CCW in the club, the BOD may expose the club to potential civil liability for a loss experienced by a disarmed permit holder (or other victims if a permit holder was present) while on the club property. This means that a rape, assault, robbery or similar incident that might have been stopped or prevented by a permit holder may become a matter of potential liability for the club.
While not yet tested in Wisconsin, the chances are very strong that some of these cases will be allowed to move forward in the civil courts. The nature of Section 21 creates a new set of legal possibilities for the trial attorneys to get rich on. One has to wonder how a jury will react in such a case.
Another issue to consider is the message sent to criminals in search of easy victims. As this new law comes into force, tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin residents will be going armed. Criminals normally accustomed to preying on helpless unarmed victims will be reassessing their options.
One result of the publicly posted warning signs is to tell criminals that all persons entering or leaving the establishment will be unarmed. Unfortunately, evidence from other states indicates that posted "Gun Free" areas become magnets for criminals seeking helpless victims. They make a point of targeting "Gun Free" establishments, especially the publicly accessible parking lots serving such places. Why take a chance on anyone on the street when you have guaranteed "safe" targets in the xxxxxx Club parking lot?
I will offer several items for consideration.
When Florida enacted its CCW law in 1987, opponents issued dire warnings of an inevitable "wave of violence" on the streets. The battle cry of those opposed to the law was that Florida would become the "Wild West". The airwaves were flooded with hysterical warnings that the streets of Miami and Tampa would become "rivers of blood". As we know, such apocalyptic occurrences did not take place.
Over the last 25 years, nearly every state that did not already allow CCW has enacted laws permitting it. In every state opponents have trotted out the Wild West argument, only to see their prophecies of rivers of blood come to nothing. In state after state, year after year, this ridiculous argument is presented by CCW opponents. In state after state, year after year, the predictions of waves of murder and violence have not been fulfilled.
Please consider further.
A CCW holder in Wisconsin, by law;
Has no felony convictions;
Has no domestic violence convictions;
Has no restraining orders or restrictions;
Has no history of mental health commitments or judicial notice of mental health issues;
Has passed a state mandated training program;
Has passed a background check by the State Department of Justice.
In addition, national statistics indicate:
CCW holders are among the most law-abiding in the nation;
CCW holders are less likely to be arrested for a crime than a law enforcement officer;
CCW revocations for firearm crimes or permit violations are statistically near zero.
The facts are very clear.
Section 21 protects the club with legal immunity. This eliminates ANY possible argument on the basis of potential liability.
Statistical evidence from around the country proves beyond any doubt or question that CCW holders are less likely to commit a gun related crime than virtually any other class of citizen.
The Wisconsin DOJ background check virtually eliminates the possibility of a felon, domestic violence offender or seriously mentally ill person obtaining a permit.
The simple reality is that the ONLY people who will respect your ban are law abiding CCW holders. No person carrying illegally is going to respect your wishes, now or later, ban or no ban. At best, criminals will ignore your sign. At worst, it will lure them to the easy pickings in the club parking lot, or even inside.
In short, there are no logic or fact based reasons to bar armed CCW holders from the club. I realize that some people disagree with the notion that anyone should be armed, or even own firearms, but those opinions are based in emotion, not in fact.
I understand that the BOD has the right to make such a decision, but they also have a requirement to perform due diligence before finalizing such a decision. An issue like this can be very contentious, with strong opinions clouding good judgment.
From some of the comments floated by BOD members at the meeting, it seems that there are some very strong opinions held by some on the Board. I respectfully submit that your duty to the club and its members is to approach this situation in your role as elected officers. Personal preferences should not play any role is such an important matter.
I ask that the BOD members revisit this issue and decide it based on facts instead of emotional bias. I am available for further discussion on the matter. I am willing to provide data resources from both sides of the issue so you can judge the merits of the respective positions for yourselves. Above all, I repeat my advice to seek competent legal advice on this issue. It is much to important to handle without expert help.
Andrew H Litkowiak