HB 190: Creating Liability for Somebody Else’s Use of a Firearm
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Under current law, a person can be prosecuted for providing their firearm to a person when they know that person intends to carry out a crime. However, if the firearm owner does not know that the person will be committing a crime, then the firearm owner is not subject to a criminal penalty.
House Bill 190, sponsored by Representative Andrew Stoddard, creates a new civil liability for the firearm owner. Under HB 190, the firearm owner is strictly liable for any personal injury or property damage caused by the firearm they loan to a person if that person’s conduct constitutes a felony.
This is a fairly easy standard to meet. For example, under Utah law, an unlawful user of a controlled substance who possesses a gun has committed a felony. As such, a medical cannabis user not perfectly compliant with the law, who borrows a friend’s gun to go to the shooting range, has committed a felony. Should they accidentally shoot a person or property, the firearm owner can now be civilly liable even though they had no idea the person’s conduct was a felony or that the conduct would result in property damage or personal injury.
We believe that culpability for using a weapon to harm somebody should rest with the person who commits the harmful act, and not on the person who loaned the weapon when they had no clue the harmful act would occur.