The federal Gun-Free School Zone Act (GFSZA) has got to go. It’s problematic for two reasons. First, gun-free zones are soft targets for would-be mass murderers. Second, the three-decade-old law has the potential to turn well-intentioned gun owners into instant lawbreakers.
Thankfully, this week, Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY) reintroduced the “Safe Students Act,” H.R. 3200, which would eliminate GFSZA.
“Gun-free zones are ineffective and make our schools less safe. 98 percent of mass public shootings since 1950 have occurred in places where citizens are banned from having guns,” Rep. Massie said in a press release obtained by GunsAmerica.
“Banks, churches, sports stadiums, and many of my colleagues in Congress are protected with firearms,” he continued. “Yet children inside the classroom are too frequently left vulnerable.”
Co-Sponsor of the legislation Jeff Duncan (R-SC) agreed that making schools soft targets is foolish.
“The only thing gun-free zones do is disarm law-abiding citizens and take away their ability to protect themselves and others,” said Duncan. “We shouldn’t leave our most vulnerable – our children – in an unsafe environment like gun-free zones where acts of violence cannot be stopped.”
As alluded to earlier, the other reason to repeal GFSZA is the effect it may have on constitutional carriers, unlicensed open carriers and licensed concealed carriers traveling outside of the state that issued their permit.
See, there is an exemption in GFSZA only for permitted carriers in their home state, (and even then, you should double check relevant state and municipal laws as there are probably restrictions on the manner in which you carry in the designated zone and bans on carrying the firearm in the school itself or on school property).
Everyone else, however, can be prosecuted. Because it’s a federal law it doesn’t matter if the state has enacted constitutional carry or permit-less open carry. If you travel within 1,000 feet of a school you can be charged under GFSZA, which can land you a $5,000 fine, five years in jail and a “prohibited person” designation.
Prohibited persons are permanently banned from possessing firearms. In other words, when you violate GFSZA you risk losing your 2A rights forever.
Currently, H.R. 3200 has the following cosponsors in the House: Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI), Jody Hice (R-GA), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), James Comer (R-KY), and Brian Babin (R-TX).
Hopefully it picks up steam in the months ahead. We’ll keep you posted.