Gun Free School Zones

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Gun Free School Zones

Both Federal and State law require handguns to be in a locked case within 1000 feet of kindergarten through 12th grade school property. California ignores long guns; Federal law requires long guns to be locked up in that 1000 foot zone.

Both Federal and State law exempt private residences that lie within the 1000 foot zones.

A PC 12050/26150 CCW allows permit holders to legally carry their listed handguns on both K-12 and college/university properties and campuses. That does not insulate a licensed student or employee of a school from administrative or job disciplinary action if the school prohibits carry for those groups.

Contents

Gun Free School Zones

Both Federal Law and California Law affect possession and transport of firearms in defined school zones. The requirements are slightly different for each.

However, in general, unless one qualifies for one of the exemptions,

  • it is illegal to bring a firearm onto a school campus or property, and
  • it is illegal to bring ammunition onto school property and
  • it is illegal to have an uncased, unlocked firearm in a public place within 1000 feet of a k-12 school.

Exceptions include California Concealed Weapons licenses, and transport through school zones unloaded in locked cases. Note that CCW licenses recognized under reciprocity laws do not provide exemption, per the BATF.

Federal

The original Gun Free School Zones act of 1990 was struck down in US vs Lopez. The current version is from 1995's S890.

Federal law implements the Gun Free School Zone in 18 USC 922 (q) and definitions of key terms in 18 USC 921.

Definitions

(25) The term “school zone” means—
(A) in, or on the grounds of, a public, parochial or private
school; or
(B) within a distance of 1,000 feet from the grounds of a
public, parochial or private  school.
(26) The term “school” means a school which provides elementary
or secondary education, as determined under State law.

Motivation

Here is what Congress thinks it is doing.

(q)
(1) The Congress finds and declares that—
(A) crime, particularly crime involving drugs and guns, is a
pervasive, nationwide problem;
(B) crime at the local level is exacerbated by the interstate
movement of drugs, guns, and criminal gangs;
(C) firearms and ammunition move easily in interstate commerce
and have been found in increasing numbers in and around
schools, as documented in numerous hearings in both the
Committee on the Judiciary [3] the House of Representatives and
the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate;
(D) in fact, even before the sale of a firearm, the gun, its
component parts, ammunition, and the raw materials from which
they are made have considerably moved in interstate commerce;
(E) while criminals freely move from State to State, ordinary
citizens and foreign visitors may fear to travel to or through
certain parts of the country due to concern about violent crime
and gun violence, and parents may decline to send their children
to school for the same reason;
(F) the occurrence of violent crime in school zones has
resulted in a decline in the quality of education in our
country;
(G) this decline in the quality of education has an adverse
impact on interstate commerce and the foreign commerce of the
United States;
(H) States, localities, and school systems find it almost
impossible to handle gun-related crime by themselves — even
States, localities, and school systems that have made strong
efforts to prevent, detect, and punish gun-related crime find
their efforts unavailing due in part to the failure or
inability of other States or localities to take strong
measures; and
(I) the Congress has the power, under the interstate commerce
clause and other provisions of the Constitution, to enact
measures to ensure the integrity and safety of the Nation’s
schools by enactment of this subsection.

Congressional Record selection here.

Law

(2)
(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. 

In California, California CCW would exempt a handgun from this law. Contrary to California law regarding transport of long guns, this Federal law requires long guns to be "in a locked container, or a locked firearms rack that is on a motor vehicle".

Outside one's state of residence, a non-resident CCW from a third state would not exempt the holder from the Federal law - that law requires the license be issued by the state where the school zone is located. Nor does a license from your state of residence, honored for CCW by some other state, exempt you from the Federal law. See this BATF letter from 2002.

California

Penal Code 626.9 was created by 1994 AB 645

Prior law had forbidden possession on school grounds; the 1995 bill repealed those sections and replaced them with these.

Interesting sidelight, from the Senate Bill analysis:

ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION:  The California Rifle and Pistol
Association is opposed to AB 645 as presently drafted because
of the 1000 foot radius provision contained in proposed
626.9(e)(1) and the fact that all proposed penalties are
straight felonies. There is no judicial discretion provided 
that would allow the courts to impose misdemeanor penalties on
well-meaning lawful individuals who unwittingly pass within
1000 feet of a school that is several blocks away. The
"reasonably should know" standard in subdivision (b) is too
broad and subjective.  In order for there to be a conviction
under this provision, would school have to post signs within 
1000 feet of their campus?  What does "reasonably should know"
mean for purposes of AB 645?

In effect, AB 645 is an unjustified penalty increase for
individuals who were denied a concealed weapon permit under the
arbitrary and archaic provisions of the current permit issuing
laws, but who have a need to carry a concealed weapon anyway
for self-protection.

The California Rifle and Pistol Association opposes any
increase in CCW violation penalties without offsetting reforms
in the manner in which permits are issued.  A lawful individual
who needs a permit should at least be given a fair opportunity
to receive one|!

Law

626.9.  (a) This section shall be known, and may be cited, as
the Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1995.
  (b) Any person who possesses a firearm in a place that the
person knows, or reasonably should know, is a school zone,
as defined in paragraph (1) of subdivision (e), unless it is
with the written permission of the school district
superintendent, his or her designee, or equivalent school
authority, shall be punished as specified in subdivision (f).

Exemptions

  (c) Subdivision (b)  does not apply to the possession of a
firearm under any of the following circumstances:
  (1) Within a place of residence or 
      place of business or 
      on private property, 
if the place of residence, place of business, or private
property is not part of the school grounds and the possession
of the firearm is otherwise lawful.

  (2) When the firearm is an unloaded pistol, revolver, or other
firearm capable of being concealed on the person and is in a
locked container or within the locked trunk of a motor vehicle.

  This section  does not prohibit or limit the otherwise lawful
transportation of any other firearm, other than a pistol,
revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed on the
person, in accordance with state law.
...
   (4) When the person is exempt from the prohibition against
carrying a concealed firearm pursuant to subdivision (b), (d),
(e), or (h) of Section 12027.
...
(l)This section does not apply to a duly appointed peace officer as
defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of
Part 2, a full-time paid peace officer of another state or the
federal government who is carrying out official duties while in
California, any person summoned by any of these officers to assist
in making arrests or preserving the peace while he or she is
actually engaged in assisting the officer, a member of the military
forces of this state or of the United States who is engaged in the
performance of his or her duties, a person holding a valid license
to carry the firearm pursuant to Article 3 (commencing with Section
12050) of Chapter 1 of Title 2 of Part 4, or an armored vehicle
guard, engaged in the performance of his or her duties, as defined
in subdivision (e) of Section 7521 of the Business and Professions
Code.

Definitions

  (e) As used in this section, the following definitions shall
apply:
  (1) "School zone" means an area in, or on the grounds of, a
public or private school providing instruction in kindergarten
or grades 1 to 12, inclusive, or within a distance of 1,000
feet from the grounds of the public or private school.
  (2) "Firearm" has the same meaning as that term is given in
Section 12001.
  (3) "Locked container" has the same meaning as that term is
given in subdivision (c) of Section 12026.1.
  (4) "Concealed firearm"* has the same meaning as that term is
given in Sections 12025 and 12026.1.  
* For clarification see: Defining Concealed

Penalties

  (f) (1) Any person who violates subdivision (b) by possessing
a firearm in, or on the grounds of, a public or private school
providing instruction in kindergarten or grades 1 to 12,
inclusive, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state
prison for two, three, or five years.
  (2) Any person who violates subdivision (b) by possessing a
firearm within a distance of 1,000 feet from the grounds of a
public or private school providing instruction in kindergarten
or grades 1 to 12, inclusive, shall be punished as follows:
  (A) By imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or
five years, if any of the following circumstances apply:
   (i) If the person previously has been convicted of any
felony, or of any crime made punishable by Chapter 1
(commencing with Section 12000) of Title 2 of Part 4.
   (ii) If the person is within a class of persons prohibited
from possessing or acquiring a firearm pursuant to Section
12021 or 12021.1 of this code or Section 8100 or 8103 of the
Welfare and Institutions Code.
   (iii) If the firearm is any pistol, revolver, or other
firearm capable of being concealed upon the person and the
offense is punished as a felony pursuant to Section 12025.
  (B) By imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one
year or by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or
five years, in all cases other than those specified in
subparagraph (A).

Firearms also forbidden on campuses, properties of Colleges/Universities

There are no 'zones' for colleges or universities, but there are restrictions on the properties themselves.

  (h) Notwithstanding Section 12026, any person who brings or
possesses a loaded firearm upon the grounds of a campus of, or
buildings owned or operated for student housing, teaching,
research, or administration by, a public or private university
or college, that are contiguous or are clearly marked
university property, unless it is with the written permission
of the university or college president, his or her designee, or
equivalent university or college authority, shall be punished
by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four
years.  

Notwithstanding subdivision (k), a university or college shall
post a prominent notice at primary entrances on noncontiguous
property stating that firearms are prohibited on that property
pursuant to this subdivision.
 
  (i) Notwithstanding Section 12026, any person who brings or
possesses a firearm upon the grounds of a campus of, or
buildings owned or operated for student housing, teaching,
research, or administration by, a public or private university
or college, that are contiguous or are clearly marked
university property, unless it is with the written permission
of the university or college president, his or her designee, or
equivalent university or college authority, shall be punished
by imprisonment in the state prison for one, two, or three
years.  

Notwithstanding subdivision (k), a university or college shall
post a prominent notice at primary entrances on noncontiguous
property stating that firearms are prohibited on that property
pursuant to this subdivision.
...
  (k) This section does not require that notice be posted
regarding the proscribed conduct.

Ammunition

Ammunition is also prohibited on school campuses: Penal Code 30310 (was 12316)

  (c) Unless it is with the written permission of the school
district superintendent, his or her designee, or equivalent
school authority, no person shall carry ammunition or reloaded
ammunition onto school grounds, except sworn law enforcement
officers acting within the scope of their duties or persons
exempted Section 25450.

There are the usual exemptions for law enforcement, military, armored vehicle guards and licensed CCW.

As written, the reference to "school district superintendent" suggests this applies to K-12 and possibly Community Colleges, since those have "districts".

Criminal Convictions

People v. Tapia, 29 Cal. Rptr. 3d 158 - Cal: Court of Appeals, 2nd Appellate
Dist., 3rd Div. 2005

Defendant and appellant Jesus M. Tapia pointed a firearm at another
motorist during a traffic dispute.  When officers came to Tapia's
residence the next day to investigate, they observed Tapia, who was
standing on the sidewalk in front of his residence, remove a loaded
handgun from his pocket and place it inside a vehicle parked in the
driveway. The sidewalk where Tapia had been standing was within 1,000
feet of a high school. Tapia was convicted of possession of a firearm in
a school zone, in violation of Penal Code section 626.9,[1] and assault
with a firearm. At trial, he sought to present, as a defense to the
section 626.9 charge, evidence that the sidewalk where he had been
standing was on private property, subject to an easement of way granted
to a public entity. In the published portion of this opinion, we
conclude a sidewalk on an easement of way granted to a public entity
does not qualify as private property within the meaning of section 
626.9, subdivision (c)(1). In the unpublished portion of this opinion,
we reject Tapia's contention that the trial court improperly denied
Pitchess[2] discovery 161*161 and limited cross-examination of a
witness. We affirm.

People v. Anson, 129 Cal. Rptr. 2d 124 - Cal: Court of Appeals, 4th Appellate Dist., 3rd Div. 2003

Roger Thomas Anson appeals from a judgment of conviction for a misdemeanor
violation of the Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1995 codified at Penal Code
section 626.9 (all further statutory references are to the Penal Code). 
This court has jurisdiction because defendant was solely charged with a
felony violation of section 626.9. 
After defendant was arrested for indecent exposure, a police officer
conducted a search of his camper. The officer found handcuffs and a loaded
.380-caliber semiautomatic handgun. Defendant was convicted for misdemeanor 
possession of a firearm within 1,000 feet of an elementary school in
violation of section 626.9. Defendant contends (1) the trial court erred by
failing to suppress evidence from the search of the camper because the 
search was based on an unlawful arrest, and (2) defendant's camper qualified
as a residence excepted from the requirements of section 626.9. We affirm.

In the unpublished portion of this Opinion, we hold that the trial court did
not err by refusing to suppress evidence obtained by a search conducted
incident to defendant's arrest. In the published portion of this Opinion, 
we hold that defendant's camper does not qualify for the residence exception
in section 626.9.

People v. Mejia, 85 Cal. Rptr. 2d 690 - Cal: Court of Appeals, 4th Appellate Dist., 3rd Div. 1999

Police officers observed defendant's stopped vehicle facing the wrong
direction on Western between Wisteria and Highland. The center of Western
demarcates a 1000-foot perimeter surrounding the Monte Vista School. 
The officers initiated a traffic stop. Defendant, the driver and sole
occupant of the car, did not yield, but jumped out of his moving vehicle and
fled. He was apprehended a short distance away from the car. During the 
pursuit, an officer saw a shiny metal object in his hand. He retraced
defendant's steps and located a .380 caliber  handgun.

At trial, defense and prosecution experts testified extensively about
various measurements of the area surrounding Monte Vista School. Despite the
differences in their testimony, defendant concedes at least part of his car
was within 1,000 feet of a school at the time the officers first saw him.

People v. Singer, 56 Cal. App. Supp. 3d 1 - Cal: Court of Appeals 1976

Defendant appeals his conviction of violating Penal Code section 626.9. That
section provides, in applicable part, that "Any person, [here follow
exceptions not relevant to the present case] who brings or possesses a
firearm upon the grounds of any public school, including the University of
California and the state university and colleges, or within any public
school including the University of California and the state colleges, unless
it is with the permission of the school authorities, shall be punished [as
specified in the statute]." Specifically, defendant was charged with having
in his possession and bringing upon the grounds of the University of
California at Los Angeles a firearm without permission of the school
authorities. The matter was charged as a felony. A preliminary hearing was 
held and defendant's motion to dismiss the action because of constitutional
objections to the statute was denied. 

The court then fixed the matter as a misdemeanor pursuant to Penal Code
section 17, subdivision (b), subsection (5), and defendant thereupon pleaded
guilty.
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