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Mixing guns and booze: potential for premises liability claim

A gun club that is being built in the Atlanta, Georgia, area may be ripe for premises liability claims after a recent development. The city council narrowly approved a request by the Governor's Gun Club for a liquor license by a vote of 3-2.

According to the request, alcohol would only be served in a secure lounge during specific hours and would be accessible only to members. The members' children would be permitted to enter the lounge area but would not be permitted to drink. Guns would not be allowed inside the lounge and members would not be able to return to the shooting range after imbibing. However, customers would still be able to exit the building while in possession of their weapons if they preferred.

Some community members protested the issuance of the license. They expressed concern about the potentially dangerous mix of guns and alcohol. The mayor acknowledged the concerns but stated that he felt that appropriate safety measures were put in place. Some of these precautions include conducting a background check on all members. The club also requires members to sign a contract in which they agree to follow the rules of the club. The club is expected to open at the end of the year.

The gun range may unnecessarily be opening itself up to potential premises liability claims in the future. Premises liability results when a person is injured on dangerous property due to negligent maintenance, dangerous conditions on the property or negligence on the part of the landowner. In this case, it would be difficult for the landowner to contest that it did not anticipate an injury could occur after mixing alcohol and guns when people have publicly presented their concerns in an extremely public forum.

Source: West Cobb Patch, "Powder Springs Gun Range OK'd to Serve Alcohol," Michael Stone, Sept. 18, 2012

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