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Mississippi House passes Landowners Protect Act

Two males were reportedly shot at while inside a parked vehicle (Source: Live 5 News)
Two males were reportedly shot at while inside a parked vehicle (Source: Live 5 News)(Jamal Smalls)
Updated: Feb. 28, 2019 at 7:54 PM CST
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JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - How safe are you when you go onto someone else’s property? And who’s responsible if you get hurt while you’re there? Those questions are at the center of a controversy surrounding the Landowners Protection Act, being considered at the State Capitol. Senate Bill 2901 cleared the Senate earlier this month. It was held on a motion to reconsider in the House of Representatives this week but passed the full House Thursday.

Right now, if you get injured while you’re on someone’s property by another individual, that landowner is fully liable, even if they don’t know the person who hurt you. But that could change if the Landowners Protection Act is signed into law.

“Business owners should not in and of themselves, bear the brunt of the crime that’s occurring,” noted Rep. Mark Baker (R).

All of these logos represent business organizations supporting the act. Why? They say it will protect businesses from frivolous lawsuits.

“What we’re trying to do is simply clarify when landowners are responsible, that they be held responsible, but when they’re not responsible, how does that work,” added Baker.

Opponents say the proposed changes would lead to more crime because property owners won’t have the same expectation to take reasonable security measures.

“If you just willy nilly, let someone do whatever they want to do, that’s what they’re going to do...nothing," said Rep. Credell Calhoun (D). "They’re not going to do anything to make sure that things are safe for customers that are coming.”

Meanwhile, Representative Mark Baker argues that’s not necessarily the case now.

“The misconceptions are that businesses are responsible for having lighting or they’re responsible for having security,” explained Baker. "They’re responsible for having personnel. Not necessarily. And by the way, it doesn’t stop people from suing these businesses that have all of those things in place. If there were crimes on the property in the last three years that resulted in a felony conviction, the bill says the business would be liable because it would be considered an “atmosphere of violence”.

But that’s not enough for those who worry about the consequences.

“It would make properties less safe here in Mississippi for people,” said Rep. Earle Banks (D).

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