Utah Supreme Court rules in gun case involving intoxicated person

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Supreme Court has ruled that gun owners have a duty “to exercise reasonable care in supplying their guns to intoxicated individuals,” in a wrongful death lawsuit.

The case centers around a 2006 incident where an intoxicated woman shot and killed herself at a party with a handgun she obtained from the party’s host. According to the ruling handed down from the state’s top court on Friday, the woman’s estate sued the party’s host for wrongful death.

In its ruling, the Utah Supreme Court did not say if the man was liable, but disagreed with a lower court ruling that initially dismissed the case.

“Supplying an intoxicated individual with a gun, just as supplying a car to such a person, creates a foreseeable risk of harm. But the fact that gun owners have such a duty does not mean that they will necessarily be liable for damages when those individuals injure themselves, because in most cases the intoxicated individual’s negligence will likely exceed that of the gun owner as a matter of comparative negligence,” the court said.

Read the ruling here:

The Utah Supreme Court sent the case back to lower courts to be litigated.



  • bob

    I agree completely. You’re responsible for what you SAY, after all. Just because you have a right to own guns doesn’t excuse you from personal responsibility for what you do with guns.

    The ruling doesn’t assign blame. It merely suggests that the Second Amendment is not an excuse for poor decision making. Personal responsibility trumps all other considerations.

  • Ron

    Its a shame that we as a society must depend on ours courts to show us what common sense is. Why would anyone in their right mind give a drunk person a gun (doesnt matter if its loaded or unloaded)? its just not right! We shouldnt be taxing ours courts systems with stupid cases such as these when more pressing matters need to be resolved by them. Its like the article states “you would give a drunk person key to a car, why give them a gun?”

  • Vinny the vet

    except that exercising what would be the natural right of self defense by using such a tool would be different than using a car to get from A to B. if she had killed an intruder would the host be liable ? or should she just submit to the criminal desires of such an intruder ? sad that the court lacks any common sense. that they compare a constitutionally protected protected instrument to a car. thinking like this means we should have alcohol tests at the voting booths also.

  • James Sucese (@jsucese)

    Clearly this was a Darwin moment if I ever read one. Alcohol and guns do not mix! If you hand your gun to a drunk person you should be held accountable. This is not a gun rights issue as much as it is you must take responsibility for your actions.

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