Trump’s promise to ban gun-free zones won’t be so simple

12/30/16 6:50 AM | by


A sign notes a gun-free zone in Northern California. (Photo: Eric Paul Zamora/Fresno Bee)

President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to eliminate gun-free zones on school campuses, but experts say legally executing the plan is not so simple.

Before abolishing what gun rights advocates call easy target areas, Trump would have to unravel overlapping federal and state laws in addition to convincing lawmakers it’s a worthy issue to consider, according to the Arizona Daily Sun.

While states can legislate the availability of firearms on school grounds, two federal laws limit firearms on school property. The Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 prohibits anyone from knowingly bringing a firearm on or within 1,000 feet of a school, and the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 requires at least a year’s expulsion for students who bring firearms to school.

Exploring the legal and political realities of the issue, the newspaper points out that even the gun friendly state of Arizona has yet to completely abolish gun free zones from schools. Describing the issue, Charles Heller, co-founder of Arizona Citizens Defense League who supports Trump’s position, said: “The problem is the Republican Arizona Legislature, which refuses to budge on the problem.”

Arizona law requires that school districts enact policy requiring specific permission from a school administrator to bring a gun on campus. This lets schools have armed school resource officers, security guards, rifle clubs or educational programs about firearms and firearm safety.

Schools aside, executive power would allow Trump to end gun-free zones in other areas like military bases, George Washington University law professor Robert Cottrol told the newspaper.

Even with a Republican-held Senate and House in Washington, “it would certainly be a fight,” Cottrol said. “And the question for any president would be: Where do you place your priorities?”

In a post-election update of what he plans to do in his first 100 days, Trump did not mention gun-free zones.

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