We Take Another Hit Part IV

As Disinformation Campaign Hits Fever Pitch, GOA refutes efforts to downplay damage caused by recent gun bans

(Friday, November 1, 1996) — Some advocates, both in Congress and in the Second Amendment community, have attempted to dismiss the tragic sweeping importance of new federal legislation to create expansive “gun free zones” around every American school. Regarding this sweeping ban, some have claimed that “its effect on gun owners will be minimal” and that in most cases, the new law will “have little effect.”

Of course, the anti-gun zealots did not work frantically to pass this gun ban merely because they felt it would have a minimal effect. And EVEN IF the impact of this new law was minimal, gun owners should be outraged by ANY law restricting their rights. The Second Amendment states that the “right to keep and bear arms shall NOT BE INFRINGED.” Those words do not leave us any room for making compromises.

Thus, we need to hold those legislators accountable who voted for the “gun free zones” and the domestic gun ban. It is GOA’s assessment that these two gun bans are just as bad — if not worse — than the Brady Act and semi-auto ban. You can get GOA’s full response to those who are apologizing for the gun free zones here in our Fact Sheets section. Listed below are some excerpts:

Myth: The “gun free zones” ban is not a sweeping piece of legislation

The “gun free school zone” legislation would create a virtual 1/2 mile wide “gun free” circle around every American school (or a 1,000 foot zone going in any one direction from any school) — a zone which could possibly include home schools. Anyone carrying a gun within this “gun free zone” would be subject to five years in prison, unless he or she has fulfilled one of the government-ordained exceptions to the law — these exemptions treating our liberties more as privileges, rather than rights. (More on this below.)

Myth: The “effect on gun owners will be minimal” — after all, isn’t this the same law as was passed in 1990?

When the first disastrous “gun free zones” provision was passed in 1990, it was almost immediately challenged. The effective date was January 27, 1991. By the first months of 1992, the events triggering the Lopez case, which ultimately overturned the law in the Supreme Court, had transpired. Aggressive enforcement was held in abeyance while the constitutionality of this language wound its way through the courts. In this sense, this law was little different from other gun bans in which enforcement was gradually tightened until the full repressive impact of the legislation had been eased into place.

Myth: Most states have comparable laws to the new “gun free zones” ban at the federal level

Wrong. Many states have laws which, on their face, are much narrower than the federal law and do not create mammoth “gun-free zones.” For instance, Indiana and Minnesota prohibit carrying a gun on “school property.” States like Arizona, Colorado, New York and Virginia — to name just a few — all prohibit guns within “school grounds” or “school buildings” or at “school functions.” The fact that the expansive federal law is putting pressure on states to enact equally repressive measures at the state level is a recent development which represents perhaps the most dangerous aspect of the new law.

Aside from that, while a few states, such as New York and Massachusetts, have specialized in firearms repression, most have been considerably less abusive than BATF in interpreting and enforcing anti-gun statutes, even when those statutes may be overbroad. Even if the only impact of this legislation were its massive expansion of BATF authority, this would be a very bad law.

And finally, as already mentioned above, anti-gun zealots did not work frantically to pass this piece of legislation merely because they felt it was redundant of state legislation currently on the books.

Myth: There are significant exemptions to the “gun free zones” ban

* THE BOGUS “HUNTER EXEMPTION”: The so-called “hunter exemption” applies only when the school authorities specifically give permission for a hunter to cross their property — and then only when the gun is unloaded. Assuming that a hunter on the way to a hunting trip would have to cross fifty school zones, that hunter would have to check with all fifty schools — or risk being a felon if he did not qualify under another exemption.

* THE “PRIVATE PROPERTY” TRAP: While it is true that a person living within a school zone would not automatically have to relinquish his guns, it would be UNLAWFUL for him TO CARRY HIS GUN TO HIS CAR PARKED ON THE STREET OUTSIDE HIS HOUSE. (See GOA’s Web page for analysis of other exemptions.)