Let’s say you loan someone your car for the weekend. You don’t need it for whatever reason, and they do, so you hand them the keys.
Now, let’s say that friend gets into an accident and someone is killed. Should you be liable for it?
Of course not. After all, you didn’t do anything wrong. No one should be looking at a lawsuit for what someone else does.
But a Utah lawmaker wants to make it easier to sue people who loan others weapons that are later used in a crime.
Following the death of a University of Utah student, a newly elected state lawmaker wants to make it easier to sue people who loan out guns that are then used in a crime.
No draft has been filed and he is still hashing out the details, but Rep.-elect Andrew Stoddard says the proposal would apply only to those who lend out a firearm on purpose, and not when a gun is stolen or used in self-defense.
“We’re obviously not going to put you on the hook for something you had no control over,” the Midvale Democrat said Thursday on KSL Newsradio’s “Dave and Dujanovic Show.” “This is for cases where people are very obviously loaning their gun out to people and doing it intentionally, and then someone uses that gun to commit a violent offense.”
His proposed “Lauren’s Law” follows the October death of University of Utah senior Lauren McCluskey. The communication major and track athlete was shot to death by a parolee she had recently stopped dating after she learned he was a sex offender who had given her a fake name, police said.
Here’s the problem with that argument. He can say all he wants that it won’t punish people who had no control over what happened, but he only sees the differentiation as loaning a gun versus one being stolen.
The problem is, once a gun is out of your possession, you have no control over what happens regardless of why you loan it out. This means that while lawsuits may penalize people who loan a gun expressly for someone to commit a criminal act with, it’ll also likely wrap up people who loan out a firearm in good faith.
For example, a law-abiding gun owner finds out a female friend is dealing with an abusive ex who is stalking her. He loans her a firearm for protection. It happens, right? The problem in this example, though, is that she decides to be pro-active. She goes over to the ex-husband’s house and shoots him in cold blood.
Now, his family can sue the law-abiding gun owner who lent his weapon out to someone for self-defense purposes but was essentially betrayed by the friend.
Even if he somehow wins, he still loses. Lawsuits are expensive and time-consuming. They can destroy someone’s finances and their life. Do we need to open the door on this?
Look, if someone is enabling a murderer by loaning them a gun for the crime, that’s called “being an accessory” and it should be prosecuted.
But otherwise, don’t open the door for penalizing law-abiding gun owners for what other people do with their guns.