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Old March 11, 2012, 06:50 PM   #1
Kayser
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Civil liability for gun club members.

I'm checking out a convenient new range nearby. It's in very good condition and has a growing list of 300 members. But unlike the other range I'm a member of, it's not part of a business. It's just a "club" with a $40 membership. Fill out your waiver, take the safety course, done.

My question is this - what kind of civil liabilities do the general members of such a club have? That is, imagine someone sends a round off the range and it hits a car or a person. Range gets sued. Is the membership in general liable for such a thing? Or is the liability there exclusively on the property owner?
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Old March 11, 2012, 09:19 PM   #2
Shotgun693
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As a general rule of thumb, everybody gets sued. A Lawyer can not over look anyone who might happen to have some money.
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Old March 11, 2012, 09:55 PM   #3
Kayser
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Are you saying that facetiously or ....? I'm actually interested in informed opinions here
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Old March 11, 2012, 10:03 PM   #4
ScottRiqui
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Who actually owns the land/facilities? That would be the most likely target for a lawsuit (other than the person that directly caused the damage/injury).

How formal is the club? Any officers? Who collects/tracks/disburses the money?
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Old March 11, 2012, 10:40 PM   #5
Marty Hayes
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Before the real lawyers come by and answer, I will give you the law school response. Normally, it would be the gun club leadership, and/or the property owner that could likely be sued for a mishap. And, they should have insurance for that possibility. Members, unless they are directly related to the incident, should not be affected by a negligence suit against the club by a member.
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Old March 11, 2012, 11:38 PM   #6
Kayser
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Thanks for your reply Marty. I'm sure the answer is the same, but what about a suit from a non-member? Ie, a round that gets off the range and hits some random person and/or their property?
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Old March 12, 2012, 12:01 AM   #7
Frank Ettin
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Too many open issues to provide much of an answer. For example, how is the club organized? Is it a corporation? What do the bylaws say? Does someone becoming a member fill out and sign any sort of an application? With some "fine print" perhaps? What sorts of responsibilities do members have in connection with the operations of the club (e. g., volunteer for range officer duties or to provide various services when/if the club hosts competitions or classes)?

In general, I would not expect a member to be liable for liabilities or debts of the club -- but
  • If the club is not formed as a corporation, things could get a little murkier.

  • A member could have liability for his acts when serving the club as a volunteer. But the club should have an obligation to defend and indemnify the member (if the club has sufficient assets), and the club should be carrying insurance to cover that risk.

  • In some clubs members can be financially responsible for special assessments in addition to dues as might be needed by the club to cover extraordinary expenses -- such as arising from a lawsuit.
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Old March 12, 2012, 12:44 PM   #8
kraigwy
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Our club has insurance. I'm not sure how much it cost, it depends on the number of members.

Personally I'm looking into insurance that would cover me in a SD situation. I plan on adding "accident" coverage that would be included.

If I'm involve in a shooting, I don't want to loose my house to prove I'm in the right.

If you're club doesn't carry insurance, I'd talk to the board of directors about it.
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Old March 12, 2012, 01:21 PM   #9
hermannr
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IMHO: It would depend on the type of organization the club is chartered as, and what state you are in. It is very easy to set the club up so that individuals are not exposed to personal liability for what happens at the club.

Check you club's charter..that is where the answer to your question is.
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Old March 12, 2012, 02:41 PM   #10
Kayser
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Oh, the club has insurance. The mandatory safety class they had over the weekend was -5- hours long, all for the purposes of insurance. Annoying, but I'd actually prefer a place that takes safety truly seriously than one filled with the local yahoos.

I just wasn't clear what the extent the club insurance applied. If some jackass manages to put a hole in a house while I'm home sleeping, I'd like to think I'm immune to waking up to a lawsuit.
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Old March 12, 2012, 06:00 PM   #11
Old Smoker
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I'm fortunate, that I have a range very close to home. Its a county owned range, has area for rifle, pistol and shotgun. No charge. Its used alot by the sheriffs department for practice. Last year the burn heights were increased and more secure backstops were put in place.
The only bad thing is the outsider use and their leaving their brass all over the place for us to clean up.
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Old March 12, 2012, 06:10 PM   #12
ScottRiqui
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Quote:
The only bad thing is the outsider use and their leaving their brass all over the place for us to clean up.
To hear most brass rats talk about how picked-over their local ranges are, I'm surprised this is a problem.
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Old March 20, 2012, 08:10 PM   #13
Micropterus
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I handle claims for a living (20 years now). I'll weigh in.

I've not handled any claims for a shooting range, but I've handled them involving community pools - you know, the kind in the neighborhood that you have to join to use. Usually, they are owned collectively by the membership.

I handled a drowning claim at such a facility. Defendants to the lawsuit were as follows:

1) The association that managed to pool
2) The members of the board, individually, for the above association
3) The company contracted to maintain the pool

None of the lifeguards, and none of the members were sued individually.

I suspect the same would hold true for a gun club. The Club itself as an entity, the individual members of the board, and the person who committed the tort would be named in the lawsuit. I seriously doubt members or range officers, individually, would be named, unless they had a direct involvement in the tort.
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Old March 21, 2012, 03:47 PM   #14
langenc
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I was at a DNR range yesterday-unmanned.

No brass except a couple missed cases and lots of 22LRs. Those shotgun shooters are sure lazy in picking up their hulls and clay birds. Sign clearly says-"Paper targets only".. Smokers dont seem to mind throwing butts everywhere. A cigarette filter will still be there 20 yrs from now.

Thank you slobs.
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