How Donald Trump Could Get Rid of Federal “Gun Free” Zones

trump

Donald Trump attended the annual NRA Annual Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky. The local news carried pictures of rain and record crowds, three hour waits to get into the meeting room, thousands of attendees, and traffic snarled as people overflowed the Kentucky Expo capacities. I saw lines stretching for a quarter mile or more. The local press described the crowds waiting to register for the NRA events as even bigger, but they were moving faster. At the Leadership forum, before Trump spoke, a polished NRA VP Chris Cox made the announcement: The NRA is endorsing Donald Trump for President! It was not unexpected . . .

There have been elections when the NRA did not endorse a presidential candidate. This year the choice is much clearer than any election in recent memory. Hillary Clinton has said that the Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment. Donald Trump says the Second Amendment must be cherished and protected; and he gives specifics.

Donald Trump came on stage.  He was pleased and gratified with the endorsement. I believe he had hoped for an endorsement, but did not know exactly when it would come. He told the crowd, referring to Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox in the NRA leadership: I want Wayne and Chris to know – I will not let you down.” He reiterated his policy paper on the Second Amendment. And he made this statement: “We are going to get rid of gun free zones.  I am telling you that.”

Gun free zones have become a major tactic of anti Second Amendment activists to make carrying a gun for legal purposes impractical and legally dangerous.  Gun free zones are designed to spread like smallpox, and eventually prevent most people from carrying guns most places.  As John Lott has shown, spree killers who plan mass murders in public spaces are attracted to gun free zones.

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:

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.

The original act was struck down as unconstitutional in 1995, in U.S. v. Lopez.  Bill Clinton immediately and emotionally demanded that a slightly modified law be passed again. He threatened to keep legislators in Washington, D.C. and away from their districts during the 1996 election cycle, until they passed the new law.

The law was passed September 30, 1996, and become the Gun Free School Zone Act of 1997. Prosecutions under the law have been sparse. Observers believe that federal prosecutors fear to bring a case that could subject the act to another Supreme Court ruling.  That might change with the absence of Justice Scalia.

A separate federal law, the Gun Free Schools Act of 1994, provides incentives for schools themselves to be gun free zones.

In U.S. v. Heller, the Supreme Court ruled that schools were “sensitive places” where the government could restrict the exercise of the Second Amendment. It did not say that 1,000 foot zones around Schools were “sensitive” places. No one knows why schools were included as “sensitive.” Governmental bans on the carry or possession of guns in schools are neither historically long standing or logically reasonable. The apparent rational for bans on guns in schools is to teach students that guns are bad and the government can ban them.

A Trump administration would have to obtain congressional support to repeal the Gun Free School Zone Act of 1997. It could push hard for congressional repeal of the Act. It could unilaterally state that the law violates both the Second and Tenth Amendments. It could state that it will not prosecute under the Act, setting a moral example for the rest of the country.

A Trump administration could replace Justice Scalia with another judge who would uphold the Constitution as written, rather than treat it as a malleable document that effectively binds no one. It could weakly prosecute a test case to bring the act into the courts under the most favorable conditions, hoping for a repeat of U.S. v Lopez, citing the Second and Tenth Amendments, as well as the commerce clause.

Such test cases have been a favorite tactic of “progressives”. It was used by the Franklin Roosevelt administration to obtain the muddy results in U.S. v. Miller. The 1934 Miller case was inappropriately used in appellate courts to justify infringements on the Second Amendment for decades. Those appellate decisions were invalidated with the Heller decision.

Donald Trump has publicly promised to get rid of gun free zones, directly to the members of the NRA. They will expect him to work hard to do so. This is a stark contrast with President “Dubya” Bush’s promise to sign a renewal of the “assault weapon” ban if it reached his desk. The controversial Gun Free School Zone Act may finally be repealed.

Trump also mentioned military gun free zones.  The vast majority of active duty military are forbidden from carrying self defense firearms while on duty. It is a policy that started shortly after WWII and has been reinforced under later administrations, including the Obama administration. President Trump, as Commander in Chief, could reverse that policy immediately.

Gun Free Zones in the Post office could be reinterpreted by a Trump Department of Justice to be unconstitutional and unenforceable. A reform of Post Office regulations could neuter the ban. A directive to require removal of signs banning guns at Post Offices would make the ban unenforceable. A permanent legislative solution could be pursued in Congress. A removal of the Post Office ban has significant congressional support.

A Trump Administration could demand the Army Corps of Engineers eliminate its regulatory ban on the exercise of the Second Amendment on the lands that it administers. Congressional removal of the Army Corps of Engineers’ ban has significant support and could be enacted during a Trump administration. Court challenges of the ban have had mixed results. A removal of similar bans on National Park lands was enacted during the Obama administration.

Donald Trump, if elected, will have real opportunities to “get rid of gun free zones.” The military ban could be eliminated immediately. The Post Office and Army Corps of Engineers bans could be pursued with regulatory reform, executive actions, and legislation. The Gun Free School Zone ban could be attacked in the Congress and pursued in the Courts. Opportunities for Donald Trump to keep his promise to “get rid of gun free zones” are available and multiple.

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.
Gun Watch

comments

  1. avatar Geoff PR says:

    The best way to repeal it is to tack it on to a bill the Progressives desperately want signed into law…

    1. avatar Empty Jay says:

      Except that any bill they want so much is sure to be bad for the country in a myriad of other ways.

    2. avatar David T says:

      That is not ideal. Unless you are a pro-gun progressive–which is also not ideal.

    3. avatar DDay says:

      Trump bans guns at his own hotels, Mar a Lago, etc. why would anyone trust a thing he says on guns/2A when he’s never been pro 2a?

      He said once, “I’m uncomfortable with the concept of guns”. What person who is pro 2a has ever said anything like that?

      1. avatar Steve says:

        ^^^^^^^This^^^^^^^^^
        Lying liars and the lies they tell……

        1. avatar Next Pres picks the Supreme Court says:

          People are allowed to change their beliefs based on new information – that’s kind of how the whole learning and growing thing works. Do you still have the exact same beliefs you did a decade ago? If not, does this make you a “Liar”?

      2. Mar a Largo has gun free zone signs? There must be a picture somewhere. I have not seen it.

  2. avatar gs650g says:

    All this is more than we can expect from Her.

  3. avatar Red Sox says:

    The precedent has been set, a pen and phone is all that is needed.

  4. avatar AnyMouse says:

    Couldn’t a president simply order the Justice Department to ignore “gun free zones”? What would that do about states?

    1. avatar Katy says:

      Dean addresses that point:

      It could unilaterally state that the law violates both the Second and Tenth Amendments. It could state that it will not prosecute under the Act, setting a moral example for the rest of the country.

      Trump can direct that DoJ not enforce the Act, and while it would serve as an example to the States, it would not change their business. I suspect that the liberal states would continue business as usual. In conservative states, you would see a massive propaganda campaign on the part of school boards to do the same, because “children.”

      I base this on living in a conservative suburban area in TX, where my question to the school PD about teachers carrying was met with, “we don’t want a cop to have to live with shooting a teacher.”

      1. avatar Bob says:

        “we don’t want a cop to have to live with shooting a teacher.”

        Well, we’ll just have to make sure teachers get rid of all their dog puppets/costumes. 😉

      2. avatar AnyMouse says:

        Interesting information. Always thought Texas was pretty much guns everywhere. Guess not.

        1. avatar thewiz says:

          nah, that’s Florida! We all got em

    2. avatar neiowa says:

      “Justice” has been anything but since 1988. Bush the 1st had a purge of Reaganites. 8yr of packing the place by Clinton. Bush the 2nd didn’t have the stones to clean house and now 8yr of Obumer total out of control. 95% of the joint needs to hear “Your FIRED”. Same for the “State Dept”. It makes the Commie infestations of the 1930-40s look trivial.

      Zero chance either will happen.

    3. avatar FedUp says:

      The Attorney General, a presidential appointee, can refuse to enforce any law he chooses, as far as I’ve seen.

      And remember, Holder sued a state government to prevent them from enforcing federal immigration laws that he didn’t want enforced by anybody. What would happen if the DOJ sued every state that prosecuted somebody under a federal gun control law?

  5. avatar Matt in Oklahoma says:

    Feds shouldn’t be in States business on they want to control their schools and laws. BUT in order for this to happen they must quit taking the money. You can’t have it both ways. Your only a puppet especially when you are the one who ties the string

    1. avatar Soccerchainsaw says:

      “Feds shouldn’t be in States business on they want to control their schools and laws.”

      I respectfully disagree. The proper role of the Federal government is to protect the rights and freedoms of the citizens. Sometimes the assaults on our rights come from the state government. Without federal intervention there might still be segregated schools. The problem comes when the Federal government is the violator of our rights, passing laws in excess of the states’ laws.
      “Shall not be infringed” should apply to Federal, State & Local governments.

      1. avatar Jim Bullock says:

        ^this^

        Some things are federal business. Most things are not … exactly the opposite of recent behavior, especially in the current administration, and promised by the presumptive D-party nominee.

        Most things federal reside with the legislature, with the executive administering policies set by others, and judicial overseeing mostly process and scope, not content of law and policy. Again, opposite.

        I like to compare other federal interventionsto the civil rights enforcement. Does this thing here rise to the level of civil rights abuses in scope, in duration, in impact, and in clarity. No? OK, maybe not federal.

        Myself, I wonder if proper application of the equal protection clause might have been a better way to go at the racial problem. That’s why that clause is there. No creating out groups, with less rights than the rest. (Also, no creating in-groups with more rights.) One rule to rule us all, one might say.

        Really, travel limitations, bus seating, schools, denying franchise, etc. all fail “equal protection”. Perfectly legit per that principle for the feds to intervene on those grounds. Really, what happens when corrupt politi-critters can’t hijack private enterprises to inflict their biases and anger? (This was much of it. How much depending on who you believe.) Constitutionally, “equal protection” forbids “Jim Crow” laws, making them federal business.

        This causes me to wonder about the rigorous application of Title IX. Why that, not the constitution’s equal protection. (<- That's rhetorical.)

      2. avatar Matt in Oklahoma says:

        I understand what you are saying and yeah you are right to a degree. There might not be “legal” segregation but schools are still very segregated so I wouldn’t call it a success. In fact it was just in the news this week. Coming from a forced bus day myself my “rights” were certainly not being protected in my daily behind kickings, due to nothing more than my race, by the feds I assure you. They were not interested in my “right” to attend school without being beat up (8th) as much as a progressive agenda.
        Protection of “rights” is being taken to another dimension in the definition of “rights”.

        1. avatar Pond Avenue says:

          I posted this exact post a couple of years ago about my junior high experience. JWM called me racist. We will see.

        2. avatar Jim Bullock says:

          Well, I suspect that it’s easier for the Feds to redress bad state laws, than to engineer people’s detailed behavior and attitudes.

          I do wish they’d pay more attention to the former than the latter, but the latter makes for more strident-sounding speeches. Any more, they don’t even confine themselves to social engineering: the oceans begin to recede, the planet begins to heal, and etc. How can you not elect someone who’s gonna repeal the laws of physics by their mere presence?

          Oh yeah. It doesn’t work that way. Nevermind.

        3. avatar jwm says:

          I don’t recall a pond avenue from a couple of years ago. You one of those guys that made such an ass of himself he had to change names?

        4. avatar Matt in Oklahoma says:

          Not trying to be racist, or start anything in that direction, I’m just pointing out racism that was undeniably protected as opposed to true “rights” which are consistently mislabeled which is why “infringed” is so beat up. If I get the ax or the edit then so be it. I’m just having a discussion. In fact there were some real good opposing points made that have given me pause to think some more on it. This isn’t a cut and dry issue

        5. avatar Pond Avenue says:

          I am whoever I feel like I am on any given day. You are Mr. Race Card every day. You never have gotten past your prison guard days. Ain’t nobody here your prisoner bitch.

        6. avatar jwm says:

          What I thought. Made such an ass of yourself under your other personality you got banned or had to run and hide. I was never a gaurd, tho you just projected your internal fantasy out there. Just another disturbed troll.

  6. avatar Missouri Mule says:

    Always interesting when US v. Miller (1939) comes up. Careful reading of this lopsided case indicates that arms suitable for military and militia use are the only ones that are protected by the Second Amendment. In other words a ban on any real assault weapons is unconstitutional. Ironic. LOL!

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Yeah, I don’t understand how the NRA or Second Amendment Foundation never filed a lawsuit to repeal the Firearms Act of 1934, the Gun Control Act of 1968, and/or the Hughes Amendment of 1986 to finally allow ownership of military firearms. That would be such a slam-dunk, easy to win case. The Miller decision explicitly protects those firearms. Unless the U.S. Supreme Court wants to reverse that decision, something that that they should be loath to do, any challenge will win.

      1. avatar Missouri Mule says:

        We are afraid they would not invalidate it. Probably rightfully so. Even Justice Scalia was taken in by the “firearm in common use” progressive interpretation. I don’t know anyone who regularly shoots a Brown Bess, but we have the right to keep and bare one.

  7. avatar FormerWaterWalker says:

    Donald could but he won’t “for the children”. All I’m hoping is he defends the 2A. And “makes American Great agin'” LOL

  8. avatar David T says:

    D.J. Trump was not my first choice, but he has my wholehearted support while HRC is the alternative.

    1) He may NOT be an ideological conservative, but she IS an ideological progressive and anti 2A.
    2) NRA endorsement
    3) Somehow still much less annoying to listen to than HRC.
    4) His having a concealed carry permit which does count for something IMO.
    5) Still a two party system (and the hopeless libertarian ticket is anti 2A)

  9. avatar neiowa says:

    Saw his chopper circling while spending 2hr 40min trying to get thru the main gate. Didn’t see a line for Donny.

  10. avatar SteveInCO says:

    Re: Postal GFZs, he could probably single-handedly issue a directive requiring the Post Office to quit considering the parking lot part of the facility. That would give immediate partial relief until Congress acts on the rest of it (as described here).

  11. avatar Ralph says:

    Not enforce the GFSZA? If the President can order non-enforcement of the GFSZA, why can’t he order non-enforcement of any other law, including those we like?

    The issue will be before SCOTUS, but in a slightly different context. The case involves Obama’s non-enforcement of our immigration laws. There will be a lot of legal sleight-of-hand applied to the case, but the ultimate question will be whether the President is above the law. Given the current composition of SCOTUS, and what SCOTUS may become under the Dowager Empress, I fear for our country.

    The President can’t ignore laws. That’s how we got into this Imperial President mess. For the GFSZA to go away, it must be repealed. And should be.

    1. avatar SteveInCO says:

      Playing devil’s advocate here: I’m pretty sure prosecutorial discretion is a thing…and that cops don’t have to pull over every traffic violation they see (else there’d be no tolerance on speeding). How is this sort of thing different?

    2. The President swears an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

      I do not see why he can not do that by refusing to enforce blatantly unconstitutional laws.

  12. avatar Custodian says:

    If congress and the president and scotus can ignore or work around the constitution, then ignoring a law is nothing.

  13. avatar Libertarian says:

    Still no gun zone sigs at his buildings ??
    So long this stand he got zero respect from me !

    1. I would like to see them. Someone should have a picture. I have written about this issue, and it seems mostly to be one that has been whipped up out of nothing by the far left.

      I looked for a gun free zone sign on his building in Las Vegas, and could not find any.

      You would think that if there were gun free zone signs on his buildings, someone could post a picture.

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