barack obama, Biden DOJ, Bill Whittle, Bruen, Clinton Administration, commerce clause, D/S/Cs, FBI, Gun Free School Zones Act, Heller, Hillary Clinton, joe biden, Las Vegas Attack, Lopez Decision, school attacks
To find all the articles in this series, enter “school attacks 2022” in the search bar of the SMM home page.
The previous articles of this series proposed arming willing school staff, and raised—and debunked–many of the primary objections of the uninformed, and of professional anti self-defense, anti-liberty/gun cracktivists. Still, how can school officials be convinced to accept concealed handguns in schools? How can risk-averse superintendents and school boards understand the danger we face even as they remove all police presence from their schools? Can hard-core Democrats/Socialists/Communists be persuaded to accept reality? This article asks and answers these and some additional questions. However, I’ll first provide some useful information on relevant federal law.
In 1990, the Gun Free School Zones Act was written into law as part of the Crime Control Act. Among its provisions was a blanket prohibition on all firearms within 1000 feet of a school. The act relied on the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, asserting Congress had the power to enact the law because most firearms presumably had, at some point, moved in interstate commerce. Actually, Congress, seizing power it does not have, was essentially asserting they could legislate just about anything under the Commerce Clause. The law turned huge portions of the nation into gun-free zones, making their perfectly law abiding owners liable for arrest and prosecution because of their unwitting proximity to a school. Any gun shop or other store that sold guns that happened to be within 1000 feet of a school zone, was suddenly violating federal law, even if a school was built—pre or post-1990–next door. Any gun owner whose home was within 1000 feet of a school was suddenly a federal felon, as was any citizen lawfully carrying a gun in their vehicle if they happened to drive past a school.
Setting distance limits on gun ownership was a common tactic at the time, with anti-liberty/gun cracktivists envisioning an America so full of gun free zones there would be few lawful places to so much as possess a firearm.
Consider the lunacy of the concept: guns are evil and dangerous within 1000 feet of a school, but they’re fine once one reaches 1000.001 feet?
In the 1995 Lopez decision, the US Supreme Court struck down the law, ruling the Congress couldn’t write any law they wanted by claiming some vague Commerce Clause entanglement. The Congress–Bill Clinton was then President–reenacted the law with a few minor language changes. It was, in essence, the same law, but without the 1000’ foot provision.
This law has been upheld, for instance, in the Dorsey case (2005) by the 9th Circuit Court, which is infamous as the most leftist in the nation and also, the Circuit most overturned by the Supreme Court. It has not, to date, been
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.
The Federal government mostly does not enforce this particular law. In fact, the text of the law notes that the federal government does not intend to occupy this particular field of law, leaving such things to local and state authorities. One might be tempted to therefore ask why the Congress wrote the law in the first place. The most likely answer is Congressmen and Senators feel compelled to write laws about any problem—real or imagined—because that’s what they do: write laws about any problem real or imagined. They love to be able to say “we’re doing something” about everything, even if “something” is meaningless, destructive or particularly, unconstitutional, and particularly if they haven’t read a dishonestly labeled law. Appearance matters to such people, reality–not so much. Virtue signaling is all. And of course, they live to increase federal power over the lives of all Americans. Mostly, however, they leave lawmaking to unelected federal bureaucrats under the guise of “rule making.”
One of the primary problems with federal intervention into what should rightfully be the exclusive territory of the state—apart from the 10th Amendment–-is federal enforcement of such laws tends to be arbitrary and capricious. One should always be aware of the firearm laws of their state and city, for it is those that are generally the controlling authority. Federal intervention in these matters tends to be dependent on the political leanings of the party in power and the amount of publicity a given incident generates. It would not be unreasonable to assume the federal government would be more likely to involve itself in such local issues under a D/S/C, anti-gun president, as was the case with Barack Obama and his grotesquely politicized Department of Justice and now, Biden’s DOJ. Even so, federal prosecution of firearm law declined as much as 42% during the Obama Administration, likely because D/S/Cs tend not to prosecute actual criminals who they view as one of their essential constituencies.
The effect is those licensed by a state to carry concealed weapons may do so in school zones in accordance with state law. The same applies in Constitutional Carry states were no license is required. Those not licensed may carry only unloaded and secured guns on school grounds, though again, federal involvement is unusual, and generally only (very rarely) occurs incident to arrests for other crimes, though federal agents may make arrests and federal prosecutors bring charges without warning and at will.
Let’s return to some of the more common questions and objections relating to the issue.
Guns are used as often as 2.5 million times around the nation each year to thwart crime, usually without firing a shot. Circa 2022, it’s now obvious the FBI has been hiding data about lawful gun owners stopping mass shootings. Even the notoriously anti-gun Clinton administration carried out a study, hoping to prove the opposite in support of anti-gun legislation. They were certain reality would conform to what they just knew had to be true, but to their surprise and horror, they discovered from one to one and a half million incidents per year of honest citizens using firearms to protect themselves and others against criminals. They tried, unsuccessfully, to quickly and quietly bury their results, but they were leaked.
If one listened only to the media, they’d believe America is a uniquely dangerous, murderous place. Thanks to D/S/Cs, the summer of 2020 would seemingly reinforce that belief. As we know circa October 2022, the damage done to policing and public safety in 2020 resulted in a dramatic increase in homicides and similar increases in other violent crimes nationwide, particularly in D/S/C ruled cities and states. However for the facts in general, a visit to the invaluable Bill Whittle will be rewarding.
Q: AREN’T GUNS FAR TOO DANGEROUS TO BE AROUND CHILDREN?
Firearms have been a part of the raising of American children since before the founding of the republic. The number of yearly firearm accidents has been, for decades, dramatically declining. Despite the fact there are, per capita, far more firearms in American hands than ever before (by most measures, something more than the total population)–Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and now Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the best firearm salespersons in American history, firearm accidents are at their lowest level since 1903 having declined by 95%. The firearm industry continues to set all-time sales records.
During his presidency, Bill Clinton was fond of deceptively asserting 11 or more children die each day by gunshot. To reach this figure, the Clinton Administration counted people as old as 20 and more as “children” and included, for example, 19-year-old drug dealers killed in turf shootouts, 20-year-old robbers shot by the police, or citizens defending their lives.
In reality, for actual children (14 years and under), the daily rate is 2.6 (in the entire country). For children ten and under, it is 0.4. In 1995, for example, 200 children (14 and under) died of gunshot wounds from all possible causes. But in that same year, 2,900 died in automobile accidents, 950 drowned, and 1000 died of injuries suffered in fires (Baker 97). Even bicycle accidents killed more than gunshot wounds. In 2007, the number was 65, and the numbers are essentially identical today. While the death of any child for any reason is tragic, we don’t keep children out of cars and away from water and bikes.
That so few children are injured by gunshot each year is welcome news, but it doesn’t lessen the potential threat and the damage that will be done when a school attack occurs. The Newtown death toll alone was 1/3 that of the 2007 national death toll. The world has changed. The only rational policy is effective responses to realistic potential threats.
By October of 2017, Islamist terrorists murdered more than 100 people in multiple attacks in Paris. More still had been killed in Europe when run over by trucks, and more were killed in America in a variety of terrorist attacks. The investigation into the Las Vegas attack, which for the moment retains the highest recorded single incident death toll (in America) has concluded and authorities still claim to have no idea of the killer’s motives, though there is credible evidence it was an Islamist attack (ISIS repeatedly took credit).
Iran continues to bankroll terrorists around the world, including in our hemisphere. The Biden Afghanistan debacle has once again opened Afghanistan as a terrorist Disneyland and training academy, but this time with $85 billion dollars in abandoned American arms, which are already up for sale on the international black market.
Not only did Temporary President Biden import, at taxpayer expense, some unknown number of Islamist terrorists direct from Afghanistan, our open borders are admitting even more every day, and we have no idea who they are, or how many.
One must always balance the potential threat and the potential benefit of any given solution. If all that matters is raw numbers, how can we justify allowing children near cars, water, anything that might produce a burn, or even bicycles?
Q: IF IT SAVES ONLY ONE LIFE, WE MUST _______ (FILL IN BLANK WITH PREFERRED POLICY)?
This moldy old chestnut is constantly resurrected in support of gun control measures. It would be insane to enact public policy on this basis. If this were so, there would be no automobiles, no airplanes, no power tools, no devices that could possibly cause harm. Even straws in soft drinks would be banned, because someone could get poked in an eye. In fact, soft drinks would probably be banned because someone could become obese and die from complications.
But I’m willing to play the game. Concealed carry by school staff will undeniably save far more than a single life. By all means, let’s enact it now.
Q: ISN’T THE LEGAL LIABILITY FOR GUNS IN SCHOOLS JUST TOO GREAT?
That we live in a ridiculously litigious society is a sad fact of life. Parents sue schools if their daughters aren’t picked to be cheerleaders, if their sons don’t make the varsity football team and if their sons can’t pee in girl’s bathrooms or beat them on athletic fields. One may use the threat of potential litigation to avoid implementing any program or policy, but the potential liability for the misuse of a firearm is the same on and off school property. Absent a specific state statute, school grounds do not impose any greater legal burden on those carrying a firearm than is found on a public sidewalk, and the requirements—and potential liability–for the use of deadly force remain the same whether one is on a playground, or the sidewalk on the other side of the chain link fence separating them.
Playing high school football is statistically far more dangerous than school shootings, yet we do not abolish football—there is no constitutional right to play football–over liability concerns. Anyone carrying a firearm must always take affirmative steps to ensure it is not misused. Such concerns are an eloquent argument not for disarming victims, but for good training, situational awareness and adult responsibility.
Potential liability issues must be primarily addressed by state legislatures. As some states require schools to be “gun free zones,” it might be necessary–as a first step–for their legislatures to repeal such statutes and authorize the carrying of concealed weapons on school grounds. In Texas, for example, state law allows school boards to authorize the carrying of concealed weapons by those so licensed by adopting a written policy or giving written permission. A recent law allows school employees to leave firearms secured in their vehicles on school property. As education and tort law differs in the various states, liability issues should be dealt with in the same way. More and more states are authorizing teachers to carry in school.
A sort of “Good Samaritan” law could be written absolving teachers and other staff members of liability so long as they were acting lawfully and reasonably in response to a deadly threat–just as we expect police officers to act. Such a law obviously must not shield anyone from the consequences of reckless, malicious or foolish behavior or outright negligence.
If the strongest case one can muster against armed teachers is they are too unstable to bear such responsibility, what are such emotional and mental defectives doing in classrooms when tens of millions of citizens with less education and vetting carry concealed weapons off school property without incident every day? Teachers are stringently vetted before being allowed to teach. Fingerprinting, credential verification, background checks, references, criminal history checks, are all an essential part of the hiring process for any teacher. Virtually every teacher in America is vetted more thoroughly than any citizen who receives a concealed carry license, and through the same processes and agencies. Mistakes are sometimes made, but because those who hire teachers must themselves be hired from the human race, and because they must choose teachers from the same inherently flawed pool of applicants, this is rather like observing oranges are orange and all oranges are thereby fatally flawed.
In constitutional carry states, where no concealed carry license is necessary for the law-abiding, any argument against willing staff carrying concealed weapons at school is even weaker than usual.
Surely, some D/S/C parents will complain about the horrific dangers of teachers carrying guns. However, these people unknowingly walk among concealed carry licensees, and others for whom no license is required, every day in stores, restaurants, theaters and a great many other public places. They seem to have survived unscathed thus far. The threat is never the law-abiding and responsible.
It may be worthwhile to consider the potential liability (to say nothing of the horrendously negative public relations fallout) inherent in doing nothing in the face of known domestic and Islamist terrorist threats when the worst-case scenario comes to pass. Without question, the odds are in favor of most students, but there is no reason the odds might not disfavor any given school or child. They will disfavor someone, like the 36 people, including 24 children murdered at a day care center in Thailand in October of 2022. The MSM has also done a fine job of hiding the fact that from one to 2.5 million Americans successfully defend themselves and others with firearms each year, most without firing a shot. If a school’s only response amounts to “run and hide,” or “throw stuff at an armed killer,” defending a gun free school zone policy after the fact will suddenly become a very uncomfortable proposition, at Virginia Tech and elsewhere.
The final installment of this series provides a look at a worst-case scenario: an attack on an elementary school. I hope to see you here next Tuesday for the final article in this updated series.
Baker, James and Wayne LaPierre: Shooting Straight: Telling the Truth About Guns in America. Washington D.C., Regnery: 2002.