Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Petition to Un-ban Guns at Tivoli Village

Las Vegas area citizens have launched a petition to convince the owners of Tivoli Village, an upscale shopping center near Summerlin, to rescind their ban on firearms. Several citizens openly carrying handguns have been asked at varying times to leave by security. As it usually is, the backlash against Tivoli was especially quick and severe. Open carriers were the quickest to react, as many do not have the option of concealing their firearm and thus escaping the eagle eyes of security guards.

Responding publically, gun owners took to the Facebook review section to express their displeasure with Tivoli Village, actually causing the rating to drop over a two-day period. Management went so far as to take the very mature step of removing the ability to leave reviews on their Facebook page. Posts asking for an explanation went unanswered and were deleted. Emails were also not responded to. Tivoli’s MO appears to be ignore, deny, and delete any dissent to their anti-gun policy. Yelp has yet to remove the reviews, but they are fairly quick to delete anything that they deem to be of ‘political’ nature, regardless of whether or not the information would lead someone to patronize or avoid the business in question.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a cabal of business owners that do everything they can to quash exposure of public displeasure. One can only imagine how Yelp or Tivoli would respond if members of the vocal protected-class minority du jour began to complain if a business denied them their rights. In reaction, some members of the public have begun to contact Tivoli’s tenants and leave reviews on those businesses. If a landlord will not permit legally carried firearms in common areas, the tenants doing business there will be the ones who lose customers and must deal with the complaints, so the thinking goes.

Social media and public relations are managed by Michelle St. Angelo for the Langdon Flynn corporation on behalf of Tivoli’s owners. Interestingly, Tivoli Village is owned by Property & Building Corp, a division of IDB Group, an Israeli company. Surely Israelis would very much understand a need for adequate defense given the horrible attacks of Palestinian terrorists.

The idea of an upscale development such as Tivoli being an environment where crime is unlikely and thus self-defense firearms unnecessary is a lie. True, money tends to keep criminal elements away, but it can also draw them in, knowing their targets have something of value.

Open plaza type malls, such as Tivoli, filled with upper-middle class customers makes a perfect terrorist target. One can only imagine the destruction that even one murderer with an assault rifle could do in such a place, let alone a team of deranged jihadis working in concert as we saw in the Mumbai attacks. Many of these shopping centers have ill-trained, unarmed security guards that can barely function as a speed bump to shoplifters, let alone someone bent on murder. Nevadans deserve to protect themselves, rather rely on a minimum wage employee in an untailored uniform shirt who will simply call 911.

Open carry strikes a nerve with  some business, usually the large corporate type, as if it will frighten people away. Maybe it is an unpleasant reminder that crime does happen and management doesn’t want to offend the sensibilities of na├»ve anti-gunners who wish to pretend guns and crimes don’t happen in ‘their’ part of town. Perhaps Tivoli and businesses like it are scared that if they tolerate openly carried firearms, hordes of unwashed men and women in camouflage will abandon Walmart and flock to the faux Italian plazas.

Legally, private property owners can choose to exclude anyone or virtually any conduct they so choose. A few court cases have arisen where political speech on private property is protected as shopping centers, open to the public, have become the new ‘public square.’ Yet no cases prevent business owners from excluding legally armed patrons. Most gun owners would probably agree that forcing private property owners to allow a behavior they disagree with under the color of law is a misuse of legislative power, but the question of bearing civil liability is another one altogether.

In a general sense, businesses have no duty to provide for the safety of their patrons from crime. Crime is something that only the criminal has control of; in theory, it’s random and unpredictable. In the 1960s, the legal landscape began to shift toward support some liability when a business owner was negligent to take reasonable steps to prevent known or reasonably foreseeable criminal acts. There are two good articles that should be read for a greater understand of the issues of business and liability for crime upon their premises. 

McKown v. Simon Property discusses as mass shooting at a Tacoma Mall and a resulting court case, while Gray and Duffy Law discuss the topic in general. In short, business, just like the police, have no special duty to ensure your safety. They do have the responsibility to ensure a reasonably safe premises and take steps to mitigate known or foreseeable crimes, but they cannot be held liable simply because a crime takes place on their property that they in no way, even by negligence, contributed to. Perhaps in the future, case law will determine that disarming a patron under the threat of trespassing opens a business to liability because passive security measures and private security are more about appearances than actual safety.

It’s well known that ‘no guns’ signs don’t do anything. They don’t keep out the legally armed citizen who carries concealed anyway, the gangbanger who has gun in his pocket, or the robber who is looking for a quick score. In fact, many business owners would probably admit that it wasn’t there intention to exclude legally armed citizens. Rather, the notions stem from a rather asinine notion of liability that a ‘no guns’ sign will reduce liability or provide a defense in the event the business is sued.

Liability is the overriding concern—how much will a crime cost the business owner? This is where insurance gets involved and one hears “Oh, the insurance company made me put up that sign.” Business owners have a moral duty, if not a legal one, to protect their customers, not their bottom lines. Denying the right to be armed because of frivolous liability concerns is foolish. Signs and disclaimers don’t obviate a business from taking reasonable steps to provide a safe premises. A perpetually wet, slick tile floor from a leak pipe does not absolve the owner from all liability because a ‘Wet Floor’ sign was posted.

As for guns in businesses, there must be some sort of insurance underwriter’s or attorney’s strange fear that a legally armed citizen will suddenly go rogue or accidently fire their weapon. Negligent discharges are extremely rare—far less than parking lot car accidents by several orders of magnitude. We are unaware of any business being sued because a customer couldn’t be bothered with basic firearm safety. It’s hard to see how any business could in any way be liable for a customer intentionally or negligently using the customer’s own property in an improper manner. It would be like suing a restaurant because a poor driver trying to fit a large pickup into a compact space struck a parked car in the parking lot.

The legal remedy is to assign liability to any private business that prohibits legally carried firearms on their premises without taking adequate steps to ensure patron or employee safety when an injury results. This would not mandate private property owners to allow guns, but if they banned guns and citizen was unable to defend themselves against an armed robbery, rape, or assault because open carry was banned there, the citizen could file a lawsuit if the business owner did not provide armed security. Utah’s parking lot storage law is a good example. 

Such a law would not be popular with businesses, large corporations, or their lawyers.  Of course, in the absence of evidence that legally armed citizens are dangerous or detrimental to business and that a businesses have no liability for a legally armed citizen who suddenly behaves badly, any arguments to the contrary are baseless. All a business has to do is allow guns to be carried in accordance with state law; merely permitting on private property what the state allows on public property can’t reasonably be extended against businesses. A citizen who feels unsafe can choose to carry a gun, not simply patronize another business, as many anti-gun businesses would suggest (then paradoxically beg for your money).

A good example of businesses that take patron security seriously are casinos. They have armed security (to a degree) and regular, highly visible security patrols. Such a law would not affect casinos (Nevada’s most important industry) as they already take pretty strong steps to protect their business and by extension their customers. The same law could also provide additional statutory protections for private property owners by explicitly exempting them from liability should someone commit a crime or misuse a gun on their property.

Until the landscape of crime and terrorist takes an unfortunate shift in this country—we hope and pray it never does—large corporations generally will not take their patron’s safety seriously. Recently, several high profile rapes and murders have taken place at the Fashion Show Mall and casino parking garages on the Strip. Open carry might have served as a deterrent. Even it wouldn’t have deterred the specific crime, the public deserves the right to carry a self-defense weapon in the manner they choose. Businesses interfering because of unfounded liability concerns or worries about the aesthetics of armed customers is inappropriate. Shopping malls should be on notice that they are not immune from the ills of society at large and their blanket ‘no guns’ policies fool no one.

5 comments:

  1. In less than five days the petition has garnered 227 signatures. Please help support this effort by clicking on the petition link and signing. There are some that have spoken to tenants at Tivoli and they are not happy with the policy or with Tivoli Management. The more signatures are added the more influence with have and the more leverage tenants have to force the issue.

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  2. Gun free zones have never worked, it's hard to believe the true ignorance that intelligent people have concerning this matter...

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  3. Gun Free Zones = Fish in a Barrel.I'm not willing to be one!

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  4. Join a new group on facebook to organize the boycott of Tivoli Village https://www.facebook.com/groups/180464032351964/

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  5. We now have 376 signatures with a goal of 500. 18 tenants were contacted by email, messaging on their website and private message to facebook. Zero response. When we hit 500 we will be taking it to the media to see if anyone picks up the story. We need help to reach 500. Sign and share.

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