96.2% of all mass shootings between January of 1998 and December of 2015 have taken place in so-called “gun free zones,” where public and private entities forbade the open and/or concealed carry of firearms. Almost all of them have passed without anyone suing to hold the site of the mass shooting responsible for poor security. That has now changed.
The survivors of a 2015 mass shooting outside a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood are suing Planned Parenthood for not having adequate security in place to protect staff and patrons of the facility.
Victims of the November attack at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood have filed a lawsuit against the clinic and its parent company alleging that the shooting was both predictable and preventable.
The lawsuit, which was filed in Denver District Court on Friday, alleges that given the long history of violent acts and threats at clinics, Planned Parenthood should have known that an attack was likely at the Colorado Springs facility. Given that knowledge, Planned Parenthood failed to provide adequate security and did not alert people at the clinic that they were at “risk of injury or death.”
Planned Parenthood failed to have an armed security guard at the clinic at the time of the shooting, according to the lawsuit. The clinic also did not have adequate fencing or secured entry points, failed to train employees and did not provide video monitoring of areas at the clinic.
Some Planned Parenthood facilities provide better security than others, the complaint said. [plaintiffs’ attorney Kirk] McCormick used the Denver clinic — which has wrought-iron fences — as an example.
Planned Parenthood “should have known of the consequences of their delay, failure and decision to not implement appropriate security measures to protect the Plaintiffs and their families,” the complaint said.
This will be a very interesting case to watch, as it argues that Planned Parenthood’s long history of being a target for violence makes it culpable for providing both much more robust security at the site, and warnings to clients that merely visiting one of the facilities substantially increases their likelihood of being attacked.
If the suit is successful, it would seem to open the floodgates to lawsuits anytime that there was a gun-free zone attacked that wasn’t equipped with armed guards, controlled access points, and other security measures.
I’ve often wondered why the survivors and families of victims of attacks on gun-free zones didn’t file suit against the companies and public entities that left them defenseless.
Many companies prohibit concealed and/or open carry, but do not provide armed security. If an attack happens on these establishments, those injured in the attack and the families of those who did not survive should be to sue these companies for damages.
The same should hold true for public and government-owned facilities. The group of Sandy Hook families suing Bushmaster/Remington would have had a much more compelling case if they sued the Newtown School District for having flimsy glass doors and no armed school resource officers (SROs)on site that they do suing the manufacturer of a firearm which was purchased legally and then acquired by the shooter via matricide.
Hundreds of attacks on schools have been documented since the Enoch Brown School Massacre in 1764, and research models from the Homeland Security Institute show that having armed SROs backstopped by faculty and staff with concealed weapons is by far the fastest way to end an attack on a school with a minimal loss of life.
Perhaps the only way to get rid of gun free zones is to make lawsuits against them so incredibly draining that companies and public entities are forced to make an economic decision to abandon them.