We wrote about the federal Gun Free School Zone Act (GFSZA) in 2011 and in 2012. Recently, Grant Chapman
Deputy Director of Policy at the Oklahoma Second Amendment Association released a letter dated July 25, 2013 from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives confirming the following facts about Title 18 USC 922(q) “The Federal Gun Free School Zones Act”:
1. An Oklahoma permit holder traveling on public roads can be federally prosecuted for carrying a gun in other states that recognize Oklahoma’s permit
2. An Oklahoma permit holder can be federally prosecuted for discharging their firearm in an act of otherwise lawful self defense (car jacking).
3. A conviction under the Federal Gun Free School Zones Act causes a person to become a lifetime prohibited firearm buyer/possessor.
Law abiding Texans are not required to have a state issued permit to legally carry a rifle, shotgun or concealed handgun within a vehicle. Many other states do not require state issue permits to carry concealed and/or visible handguns and other firearms. Hunters, off duty police officers and others legally carry guns daily.
But when they pass within 1,000 feet of a K-12th grade school they are in violation of federal law.
A 1,000 feet is over 3 football fields in length. The federal prohibition on firearms begins at the farthest boundary of a school property and extends 1,000 feet in all directions. It is virtually impossible NOT to pass within a 1,000 feet of a school zone in most urban areas and many rural parts of the country.
Every time someone who does not have a qualifying state issued permit passes within a 1,000 feet of a school boundary, he/she is in violation of the federal GFSZA. By the way, that INCLUDES off duty law enforcement officers and anyone carrying under provisions of the federal Law Enforcement Safety Act (LEOSA).
Although Congress intended to allow active and retired officers nationwide concealed carry, a legislative oversight greatly reduces LEOSA protections. As the act does not provide a qualified officer any exemptions from Federal Law, off-duty LEOSA qualified officers are subject to the restrictions of Title 18 U.S.C §922(q) known as the Federal Gun Free School Zones Act of 1995. It is therefore a Federal Crime for an off-duty LEOSA qualified officer to travel armed on any public sidewalk, road, or highway which passes within one-thousand (1000) feet of the property line of any K-12 school in the nation. Violation of the Federal GFSZA by an off-duty officer is punishable by five (5) years in Federal Prison, the officer’s permanent loss of gun-rights, and will bar them from continuing work in law-enforcement. The LEOSA Improvement Act did not correct this oversight.
The only exemptions from the law is a CCW issued by the state that you are in, being on duty or if your residence is within the 1000 foot zone. You may also possess a firearm for official school sanctioned purposes.
This is the actual text of the law:
Title 18 U.S.C §922(q)
The Gun Free School Zones Act of 1995 States:
(A) It shall be unlawful for any individual knowingly to possess a firearm that has moved in or that otherwise affects interstate or foreign commerce at a place that the individual knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, is a school zone.
(B) Subparagraph (A) does not apply to the possession of a firearm—
(i) on private property not part of school grounds;
(ii) if the individual possessing the firearm is licensed to do so by the State in which the school zone is located or a political subdivision of the State, and the law of the State or political subdivision requires that, before an individual obtains such a license, the law enforcement authorities of the State or political subdivision verify that the individual is qualified under law to receive the license;
(iii) that is— (I) not loaded; and (II) in a locked container, or a locked firearms rack that is on a motor vehicle;
(iv) by an individual for use in a program approved by a school in the school zone;
(v) by an individual in accordance with a contract entered into between a school in the school zone and the individual or an employer of the individual;
(vi) by a law enforcement officer acting in his or her official capacity; or
(vii) that is unloaded and is possessed by an individual while traversing school premises for the purpose of gaining access to public or private lands open to hunting, if the entry on school premises is authorized by school authorities.
(A) Except as provided in subparagraph (B), it shall be unlawful for any person, knowingly or with reckless disregard for the safety of another, to discharge or attempt to discharge a firearm that has moved in or that otherwise affects interstate or foreign commerce at a place that the person knows is a school zone. (B) Subparagraph (A) does not apply to the discharge of a firearm—
(i) on private property not part of school grounds;
(ii) as part of a program approved by a school in the school zone, by an individual who is participating in the program;
(iii) by an individual in accordance with a contract entered into between a school in a school zone and the individual or an employer of the individual; or
(iv) by a law enforcement officer acting in his or her official capacity.
(4) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed as preempting or preventing a State or local government from enacting a statute establishing gun free school zones as provided in this subsection.
Title 18 U.S.C. §921(25)
The term “school zone” means—
(A) in, or on the grounds of, a public, parochial or private school; or
(B) within a distance of 1,000 feet from the grounds of a public, parochial or private school.
The term “school” means a school which provides elementary or secondary education, as determined under State law.
Title 18 U.S.C Section 924(a) establishes the penalty for violating GFSZA:
Whoever violates the Act shall be fined not more than $5,000, imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the term of imprisonment imposed under this paragraph shall not run concurrently with any other term of imprisonment imposed under any other provision of law.
Note: A conviction under the 1995 GFSZA will cause an individual to become a “prohibited person” under the Gun Control Act of 1968. This will bar them from legally owning firearms for the rest of their life.
Contact Congress and tell your Senators and Representatives that millions of otherwise law abiding citizens are in violation of the federal GFSZA because they haven’t amended the law. GFSZA could be used by the Attorney General of the United States to create millions of prohibited persons from possessing firearms for life.