Analysis of Gun Free Zones

Gun Free Zones
Gun Free Zones

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Analysis of Gun Free Zones


A gun-free zone is an area within or around a school or places where only the police and military have access to weapons. Historical occurrences have brought into perspective the safety of people in areas categorized as gun free zones. These areas are presumed safe environments and people are not allowed to bring guns or other weapons.

The gun-free school act was passed in 1990 by the United States Congress to protect people within and around learning institutions from any possibility of violence associated with firearms. Before adopting this law, violent behaviors were common in schools; however, the implementation of the act in 1990 has not been effective to curtail firearm-related violence in places where guns are not allowed.


The mass shooting in public places regarded as safe has generated so much heat. In 1984 for instance, a security officer killed twenty one people at McDonalds, while in 1999, two assailants killed thirteen students at Columbine High School before committing suicide.  These places were regarded as safe since they are open to the public, military installation and as such firearms are prohibited. It has been speculated that to control such mass killings, it is necessary to enforce restrictive regulations that make it increasingly impossible to get firearms (Lenn, 2014). 

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This led states to enact controversial regulations allowing Citizens to Carry Concealed Weapon (CCW) license. CCW holders are permitted to carry guns in public areas but prohibited from using in gun-free zones such as learning institutions, athletic events, parking zones, casinos, hospitals, among others. The penalty for breaching gun-free zone act differs across various states. While it is an offense that leads to the lose of the permit in some states, the license can be suspended for several years in others. The paper evaluates the history of gun free zones in the US.

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History or origin of when 1st established.

A Gun-Free Zone Act is a law enacted by the federal government of the United States to prohibit citizens from carrying or using firearms in areas that earmarked as public places such as learning institution, hospitals, stadiums, cinema halls, parking zones, casinos and so forth. The gun-free zone was initiated in October 1990 by Joseph Biden and became law in November 1990 as section 1702 of the Crime Control Act.

Additionally, the gun-free zone law empowers all school districts to implement policies to ensure that educators and students are safe from not only guns but also risky weapons. Due to the success of the drug-free zone, some local districts have implemented gun-free zones in learning institutions. In most cases, zero tolerance reforms associated with severe sanctions such as the expulsion of learners found with guns or other weapons were adopted.

The gun-free zone has been a success in various states including Washington, California, Pennsylvanian, and Missouri. Subsequently, the National School Safety Center, health facilities, and public areas regard gun-free zone as an efficient approach to curbing violence as well as preventing criminal activities (Cheng & Hockstra, 2012).  

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Why we have them

Gun control is a serious issue in virtually every area of America, and developing a course of action to guarantee the safety issues and constitution rights is not an easy task. Nonetheless, in the framework of community safety, gun-free zones are fundamental segments of any legislative efforts to leverage competing interests in the gun control discussion. Gun-free zones are critical when it comes to striking a balance in firearms policy which assures individuals of their safety to function without drastically trampling firearm ownership rights.

While it may sound unbelievable to ignore that gun-associated violence has happened in selected gun-free zones previously, allowing this outlier to discredit this issue of policy would be equally outrageous because gun-free zones, similar to the weapons-associated parameter, is required to manage the usual expectable facets of firearm possession in any given region.  While dangerous incidences of gun assaults, or lawless actions, cannot be genuinely thwarted by any laws, however, gun-free-zones help assure a sense of safety for all of a place of non-extreme conditions (Lenn, 2014).                                                                                                                                                    

Some  people hold the view that codes of practice such as gun-free zones orchestrated to formulate an assurance of security are not worth undermining gun possession rights, it is precisely the safety of this sense of security that makes such designations critical for the community. Gun-free-zones are mainly implemented by public institutions, as such, it becomes intricate for some people to argue with the declaration that students feel safe and secure while in schools.

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In particular institutions, firearms are only prohibited in dwelling dens as well as dining halls. However those with CCW permits are in position to carry their weapons around campuses so long as they have the required documentations. Of course, gun-free zones should be implemented within higher learning institutions because gun prohibition does to include classrooms at the moment.

A streamlined sense of protection must be the basic component of creating an effective environment for learning (Kingsbury et al. 2007). Such regulations on possession of guns are aimed at ensuring the safety of every citizen while pursuing learning. Much as some may consider law enforcement as repressive and persecution, the truth of the matter is that gun-free law can help guarantee the safety of students and educators on school grounds, and buildings.

Tempering the degree of constitutional freedom like those secured by the Second Amendment is challenging though gun-free zones present a strategy to provide the required balance between owners and those who do not own guns. Possession of firearms has statistically demonstrated the danger of public areas based on the perspective of ownership. Moreover, while the constitutional freedom may not be denied, there is the need for reasonable security in public places like schools, for those who choose not carry firearms.

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Issues with them, good and bad

The Congress has tried to overlook the significance of gun-free zones in schools across the US as informed by the Second Amendmend. Nonetheless, the impact of this law on gun owners is minimal. Apparently, anti-gun supporters have failed to ensure gun prohibition since they believe it has minimal effects. On the other hand, gun owners cry foul on any legislation limiting their rights. However, the Second Amendment alleges that individual’s right to carry or own firearms will not be violated.

Much as supporters of Second Amendments believe that gun-free zone has minimal impact, they discount its significance by forecasting that it’s likely to be pronounced unconstitutional by the court. Consequently, Republicans believe that the court will support the gun-free zone.

Some of the issues associated with the gun-free zones include;

Sweeping legislation

The gun-free zone creates an area that is approximately half mile weapon free around each school in the US. Individuals carrying firearms within such areas may face imprisonment of five years unless they have met the government’s intended exception to the law, which treats citizens’ liberties as privileges and not rights (Malcom & Rosenthal, 2011).

Constitutional issues

Individuals who depend on courts to protect them from federal gun legislation by asserting that gun-free zones are illegal may be in problems. In fact, federal courts and the Second Amendment are not allies. Likewise, several experts and Republicans believe that the amendments are mainly a basis for curing constitutional flaws that contributed to the rejection of a safe school act by the court. In particular, the gun-free zones influence interstate as well as international business. The amendments have no consequence on the execution of the illegal 1990 law.

Sections of the Second Amendment think that the changes would not change the illegal 1990 law. On the other hand, Republicans on the Committee of House Judiciary allege that it does. By and large, no one knows what is likely to happen. While it is possible for the court to overturn the regulation, it would subject gun owners to repressive gun prohibitions never experienced in history (Lott, 2003).

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Weapon ownership and homeschoolers

The gun-free zones prohibit weapons within half a mile or 1,000 feet around public or private learning institutions. In this scenario, learning institution represents a school that offers either elementary or secondary education. Contrary to the allegations of the Committee of House Judiciary, several states understand that home schools provide elementary or secondary education, with the motive of exempting these learners from compulsory attendance provisions of state regulation.

The gun-free zones fail to recognize state regulation especially if home schools are private schools. Of course, home schools are not open to, purposed to or managed by the public.

Exemptions for real weapon owners

The widely known “hunter-exemption” is only applicable when the school administration permits the hunter to cross their property, particularly when the gun is not loaded. Where the hunter is required to cross 60 school areas, he would be required to check with all the schools- or be in danger of felon if he fails to qualify for other exemptions.

Weapon owner registration; under gun-free zones, Carry Concealed Weapon (CCW) holders living in states required to undergo a background assessment before issuance of the permit. This implies that holders in states such as Alabama are not exempted since state regulations mandate background checks. Force people to register as gun owners before carrying loaded firearms in their cars. Whereas some weapon owners have registered their names in order to carry guns, the majority have kept their names from government records.

 The states of Pennsylvania and Virginia newspapers publish CWW holders’ names, which can be abused. Before gun-free zones, motorists in various states were legally transferring loaded weapons for self-protection without necessarily getting CCW. For instance, the state of Vermont permits individuals to carry concealed weapons, but according to the federal regulation of gun-free zones, all law-abiding in all states must be aware.

Those who initially transfer loaded arms will be denied the rights to carry guns on school ground, unless allowed under other exemptions. Transport exemption will permit motorists to move unloaded guns in locked boxes if they do not have CCW license. Additionally, unloaded firearm stored in a compartment for self-defense can subject the gun owner to 5-year incarceration. This also applies even if the individual transferring the gun is an off-duty law enforcement officer.

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While Colorado and Virginia states must be aware in permitting motorists to carry guns in the passenger compartment, conflict emerges when the motorist is within 1,000 feet of the school (Drysdale, Modzeleski & Simons, 2010). Much as it is required that individuals living in gun-free zones are not automatically subjected to surrender their firearms, it is illegal for them to carry the gun to the car that is parked outside the house. Consequently, private car exemption is only applicable to private property and not school grounds. Home schools cannot be exempted because they are under gun-free zones according to US state regulation.

Comparable regulations

Some states have enacted laws, but they are inadequate compared to federal statutes and fail to develop significant gun-free zones. For example, Indiana does not allow weapons on school grounds, building or functions.  Since the federal law is forcing states to implement the restrictive regulation is a new development that demonstrates sensitive issues of the gun-free zones.

Besides, states like Massachusetts disallows the carrying of guns in schools while New York and Colorado among others does not restrict. This has been significantly less abusive compared to interpreting anti-firearms laws. Even though the only impact of gun-free zones is its remarkable development; it is a bad regulation. Anti-gun supporters passed this law as they believed state law dismissed it in history books.

Statistics/ are they effective…why and why not.

Previous studies indicate that gun free zones are not effective. For example, mass shooting can take place anywhere including gun-free-zones. According to Malcolm & Rosenthal (2011) in 62 shootings for about three decades, there were zero cases of the shooter targeting a region due to gun prohibition. Also, in roughly 56 mass shooting in 2009 to 2013, not more than a quarter took place in gun-free zones.

Therefore, neither the goal nor the areas of a mass shooter have anything to do with gun-free zones.On the contrary, statistics demonstrate that the shooter intentions are consistently associated with the basis of their protests and predispositions; workplaces, religious and learning institutions among others. About 12 of the 62 shooting occur in learning institutions, and in one, the shooter has a direct connection with the targeted school.

Moreover, 12 of the 62 shootings in workplaces involved dissatisfied workers complaining against the employers.  Again, 57 percent of shots target a previous or current intimate partner. These figures significantly challenge the notion that shooters evenly target, vulnerable, wealthy neighborhoods to increase the number; rather they rely on intentions directed linked to their previous occurrences of behavior.

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Roughly 36 mass shootings commit suicide next to the crime site, while seven commit suicide by participating in shootouts with police officers (Malcom & Rosenthal, 2011).  This therefore shows that mass killers are controlled by the prospects of gun-free zones.  Rather than guns preventing crimes they worsen the case by thwarting law enforcers while enhancing the danger of killing innocent civilians as a result of inaccurate marksmanship. It is important to note that gun regulations can change the whole nation into gun-free zones.

Consequently, it could be clear that mass killers, offered their seemingly death-maximizing technique, to kill many innocent individuals. Rather, the opposite is true, for instance before the gun-free zone was implemented in Australia, there were roughly 13 mass killings 17 years later there was none. Firearm homicide and suicide have increased while current rate of decline. As such, it is not right to compare these statistics with gun supporter‘s recommendation that mass killers are attracted to gun-free zones (Lenn, 2014).

 Schools are not sources of homicide

Gun-free zones are also not effective since they do not draw shooters, but instead lead to a remarkable number of juvenile homicides.  For instance, juvenile homicides in learning institutions are below 2% while less than 1% of non-fatal firearm crimes take place in schools (Lott, 2003). The number of mass deaths in the US between 1980 and 2006 was roughly 32,000 annually compared to about 297 individuals murdered in schools in 1980.

This corresponds to approximately nine deaths yearly in schools. In essence, gun advocates suggest that educators and security officers carry guns to prevent exceptionally unlikely scenarios, a strategy that lacks proof and can enhance the probability of gun related deaths in gun-free zones.  Much as there is inadequate evidence to substantiate the effectiveness of gun-free zones, previous studies show that the presence of armed security officers in schools results in the early criminalization of Latino as well as Black men (Drysdale, Modzeleski & Simons, 2010).                                              

Armed guards in schools make quick arrests, fast-tracking these learners in the criminal justice system leads to adverse effect on the academic performance. On the other hand, gun-free areas are effective and purposes to prevent people from not only using but also carrying guns in certain areas by imposing high fines. These activities can be implemented in other areas of the society.

Similarly, learning institutions and law enforcement officers believe that gun-free zones are effective in protecting areas frequented by students and teachers when schools are in session. As such, designated places should be marked special signs and publicized across the society. Also, increased sanctions, especially in learning institutions where gun-free zones has been implemented, have also put in place gun education  and antiviolence initiatives to highlight to the students that carrying guns to school is not safe and not accepted.

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Gun free zones are safe surroundings such as school compounds or counties where only certain members of society have access to firearms. Such may include the law enforcement personnel and the military.  And yet, history demonstrates that offenders with the craving to commit mass killings have always maneuvered the way out to execute mass homicides. Removing the danger of a stable response presents not only open but also non-confrontational persons to commit the atrocious act. For instance, people hold the view that because learning institutions are gun free zone they are safe. Nonetheless, one of the fiercest criminal activities took place on a serene campus.


Cheng, C., & Hockstra, M. (2012,). Does Strengthening Self-Defense Law Deter Crimes or          Escalate Violence? Retrieved from Texas A &M University Department of Economics:

Drysdale, D., Modzeleski, W., and Simons, A. (2010). Campus Attacks: Targeted Violence Affecting Institutions of Higher Education. U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, U.S. Department of  Education, and Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice. Washington, D.C.               

Johnson, P. (2012). Gun control: Will campus carry get boost from Virginia Tech ruling?  The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved February, 2nd, 2015 from

Kingsbury, A., Brush, S., Green, E., & Schulte, B. (2007). Toward a Safer Campus. U.S. News & World Report, 142(15), 48-52.

Lenn, L. E. (2014). What are gun free zones and are they safe? Journal of Legal Issues and  Cases in Business Volume 3.

Lott, J. (2003). The bias against guns: why almost everything you’ve heard about gun control is wrong. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing

Malcolm, J., & Rosenthal, L. (2011). Colloquy Debate: McDonald v. Chicago: Which Standard of Scrutiny Should Apply to Gun Control Laws? Northwestern University School of Law Review

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