The Very Real Limits on Constitutional Carry: The Problem with Gun-Free School Zones

30 Mar , 2016  

We have recently noted that with new laws being passed in West Virginia and Idaho it is possible to carry concealed handguns in 10 states without a permit (in addition, in Montana you can do that outside of city limits). But Federal law clearly hasn’t caught up with the Constitutional Carry movement.  The problem is that the Federal Gun Free School Zone Act prohibits firearms of any kind within 1,000 feet of a school ground, and not the center of the school, but the edge of the property. “School” is defined as K-12 and includes public schools, private schools, parochial schools, and in some places possibly home schools. Idaho lets you carry in these school zones if you have a concealed handgun permit, but without a permit you could face a 5 year prison term. I don’t have a map for any city in Idaho, but suppose that Montana changed its law so that you could carry without a permit in city areas. This map for Missoula, Montana shows that it is literally impossible to travel from the northern to the southern part of Missoula (even using side streets).  The point is basically even if Montana became a full Constitutional Carry state, the 1,000 feet area around schools would leave the ability to carry in cities pretty much the way that it is now.  Click on the map to enlarge it.

Missoula 1,000 foot school zones

Here is a map for Phoenix (Arizona is another Constitutional Carry state) from GunLaws.com.  Again, without a permit, it is literally impossible to legally travel from one side of the city to another.

Phoenix GFSZ

UPDATE: Here is a map for Pocatello, Idaho (click on map to enlarge).  This map is set up quite as nicely as the other ones, but it is clear that there are clusters of schools in the south, the left side further up, and the northeast that will make it very difficult to travel in those areas.

Pocatello ID School Map


23 Responses

  1. Blaine Nay says:

    The Constitution-carry movement neglects to address the so-called “gun free” zone. People are assuming that they don’t need a permit — period. Until the “gun-free” school zone is rescinded, every responsible gun owner needs a permit.

    • Damion says:

      Actually the gun free zone laws are unconstitutional… as are all gun laws, “constitutional carry” has been legal for over over 250 years, and legal in every state. Just because the government passes unconstitutional laws, doesn’t make those laws legal.

      • Sir_Manky says:

        Agreed. Natural laws cannot be taken away by man made law. ANY restrictions or criteria to own a gun are an infringement. That’s what infringement means. Before someone slams me with the “Do you want felons or mentally unfit to have a gun?” argument; If they are that dangerous then they never should have been released back into our population. If they are that big of a threat that they will kill if given a firearm then why did PEOPLE IN CHARGE release them to begin with.

      • Scott B says:

        Just because a law is unconstitutional in no way guarantees you will not be charged with it, prosecuted for it, convicted of it and sent to prison.

  2. Thank you for sharing this.

  3. Scott Miller says:

    Oregon supreme court stated that a person with a ccw may carry a weapon on public school grounds and cannot be denied entry to the grounds as long as they have a ccw.

  4. Justin H says:

    https://www.idaho.gov/laws_rules/firearm.html says that you can’t carry in public schools at all even with a permit. What’s your source saying that I can with a CCW?

    • johnrlott says:

      The distinction is “in” the public school versus with the 1,000 foot zone.

      • USAFTS says:

        The 1000 buffer zone around schools is frequently attributed to firearms, but it only applies to possession of drugs as found in federal law. There is no buffer zone for the possession of a firearm in federal law except on the property itself. Likewise, Texas state law does not create a buffer zone… only within the “premises” of a school which is ‘inside’ a building or portion of a building.

        • USAFTS says:

          UPDATE: The section of the US Code (Section 921, http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/921#9577745468023118216) that defines the federal “gun free zone” does create an unconstitutional 1000 ft bubble around a school. However, that is only applicable to interstate commerce. BUT getting around that provision would require EVERY part of your gun to be made in your state… to include the mining of the ore. JUST ANOTHER corrupt use of the commerce clause to grab control and limit our rights.

    • Bill matlock says:

      The 2nd Amendment! A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

  5. Fred says:

    How Congress got to enact this brain-dead law as part of “regulating interstate commerce” is beyond me.

    But Federal Law must always be followed. It is a Federal crime to possess and use marijuana, in Washington, California, and Colorado. The FBI is really rounding up all those pot heads in those states, aren’t they?

  6. Thom says:

    Federal law does not take presidency. Any state can issue laws that subvert laws made by the feds. The Constitution have the Federal government specific. Duties and saved ALL other laws, duties. And obligations not specifically granted to the Federal government ” to the states, or to the people.”
    Several states have passed laws prohibiting the enforcement of federal gun laws within their states. Some impose a 2 to 5 year sentence for attempting to do so. The Supreme Court has stated on 4 vocations, 2 in the past and two recently, that the second amendment is a personal God derived right. The Dick Act of 1902 both explained and defined the legal defination of the term “militia” and added terms and legal guidlines that circumvent federal gun laws.
    The foiundets intentions were to have governance as close to the home as possible. States rights were to be paramount. (they also crafted and empowered a very different Congress than currently sits in judgement of us.)

    • Drew458 says:

      Do you understand what the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution means (VI.2)? It means that, YES INDEED, federal law ALWAYS takes “presidency” over state law.

      • Lynne says:

        Only if the fed law was made in “pursuance” of the Constitution. And only if the fed law fits the limitations in the Constitution. The states have the right to ignore unconstitutional fed laws. The Feds are tasked with guaranteeing each state a “republican” form of government. (Not the political party…..but following the Constitution)

        • Locke says:

          Lynne is correct. Regardless of precedence, the federal powers are few and defined, whereas the states and the people are unlimited. If the laws are not made within the confines of this granted authority, they are not laws at all, but the will of tyrants. The problem we have seen over the last 150 years or so, is all 3 federal branches were slowly grasping at powers that isn’t granted or authorized. The founders laid out numerous debates over all this and provide detailed written explanations within the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers. It is clear the government does not abide by the natural rights, natural laws, and the constitution.

  7. […] The most pernicious and dangerous of the “gun free zone” laws is the Federal Gun Free School Zone act. It criminalizes the carry of guns in wide swaths of territory far from any actual school.  The boundaries are not marked, and infractions are felonies. From crimeresearch.org: […]

  8. Rob says:

    The federal government has no constitutionally delegated authority to declare ANY non-federal property to be gun-free zones. Gun-free school zones are unconstitutional and illegal.

  9. Tom says:

    In Ohio with CCW permit you are allowed to exit vehicle to put child in car then return to drivers seat, but you still can’t enter any buildings.

  10. Wes walters says:

    After reading this article I believe I have some insight to clarify what some of the posters of comments are confused about and misinformed. First of all you have to understand that the federal government has no authority to enforce laws except for those specifically enumerated in the Constitution google search commerce clause and it will explain this fully With that said there is a federal gun free school zone act and it does not apply to drugs only The late George HW Bush send this into law law. I can’t remember the case but it was ruled unconstitutional by Scotus after which the federal Congress amended the law inserting the “in and affecting interstate commerce” clause. The second enacted version has not been overturned as unconstitutional at this time. The statute does allow caring firearms within 1000 feet of the school if the care has a concealed handgun license from the state in which the school zone is located Obviously a problem for constitutional carry and also travel to other states as well. So if u can’t avoid school zones you could in fact get a handgun made in the state you are carrying in and be legal federally because that gun being in or affecting interstate commerce is an element of this offense. As for just saying all gun laws are unconstitutional this is a matter of opinion but the SCOTUS made clear that some restriction is acceptable. Mentioning sensitive areas and felons in Heller Also note that marijuana is similar It must have to be in or affecting interstate commerce. Obama said he wouldn’t enforce it in Colorado. The truth is he COULD NOT enforce it unless the government could prove it was “in or affecting interstate commerce “. That said it is highly unlikely a federal prosecutor would pursue this type of deal on the GFSZA if he’s presented a case. State law officers do not have authority to arrest for federal crimes either so it’s basically not going to happen

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