Bill filed to repeal federal 'Gun-Free School Zones Act'

A Republican lawmaker this week filed a measure in the U.S. House that would drop the 1990 mandate establishing firearm prohibitions around schools.

The measure, introduced on the first day of the new Congress, would roll back the longstanding but controversial Gun-Free School Zones Act.

The bill, argues sponsor, Kentucky Republican U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, is needed because weapon bans and gun-free zones are not only unconstitutional, but just plain do not work.

“Gun-free school zones are ineffective. They make people less safe by inviting criminals into target-rich, no-risk environments,” said Massie in a statement. “Gun-free zones prevent law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves, and create vulnerable populations that are targeted by criminals.”

Massie’s bill, the Safe Students Act, enrolled as H.R. 34, would repeal the GFSZA, a law shepherded through Congress a quarter-century ago by then-U.S. Sen. Joe Biden in 1990.

The act has long restricted gun possession within a distance of 1,000 feet from the grounds of a public, parochial or private schools though it has been successfully challenged in the courts as unconstitutional, leading the law to be modified in 1996. Several attempts by Republican lawmakers to repeal its provisions wholesale over the years have failed.

With a new administration in the White House and a Republican-controlled Congress, Massie is banking the time may be right to move forward with dismantling gun free zones.

President-elect Trump during his campaign last year made repeated promises to do just that both early and often.

“I will get rid of gun-free zones on schools, and — you have to — and on military bases,” Trump said last January. “My first day, it gets signed, okay? My first day. There’s no more gun-free zones.”

Massie, who last month rebooted the dormant Congressional Second Amendment Caucus with an eye towards reforming gun rights, has won the endorsement for his repeal from the National Rifle Association and other groups.

Gun control groups, specifically one formed by famed Star Trek actor George Takei, has promised “direct nonviolent action, if necessary” to oppose any attempt by the Trump administration and Congress to remove federal protections for gun-free zones around schools.

Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert has signed on as a co-sponsor, and H.R. 34 has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

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