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Concealed Carry on Campus

Written by Jason M. Wong Thursday, 28 May 2009 00:00

The Legalities of Carrying a Concealed Firearm on Campus

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Speak of school violence, and the topic of conversation will almost always turn to the Columbine High School shootings of April 20, 1999. Although Columbine was not the first school shooting incident, it was one of the most horrific and shocking cases of gun violence on school grounds. Following the Virginia Tech shooting on April 16, 2007, school administrators, teachers, and students began frank discussions about the legality of concealed firearms and the inherent right of self defense on school campuses. In order to understand the current regulations governing concealed carry on campus, one must understand past efforts to legislate and control the issue of weapons in schools.

On November 29, 1990, the The Gun Free School Zones Act of 1990 was enacted as section 1702 of the Crime Control Act of 1990i. The act prohibited any individual from knowingly possessing a firearm on school grounds, or within 1,000 feet of a public, parochial or private school. Although there were exemptions to the law, the resultant effect was the creation of large portions of urban areas where firearms could not be legally possessed.

Consider the case of Alfonso Lopez, a 12th grade high school student from San Antonio, Texas who brought a handgun and five rounds of ammunition to school. The firearm was discovered and Mr. Lopez was charged with violating the Gun Free School Zones Act. At trial, Mr. Lopez’s attorney argued that the law was unconstitutional. The district court disagreed, and Mr. Lopez was sentenced to six months imprisonment, two years of supervised release, and a $50.00 fine. Upon review by the U.S. Supreme Court, the court determined, in a 5-4 decision, that the possession of a gun in a local school zone is not an economic activity that has an impact on interstate commerce, and that Congress failed to sufficiently show a link between gun violence in schools and interstate commerceii. The Gun Free School Zones Act was ruled unconstitutional.

Following the decision in Lopez, Congress passed the Gun Free Schools Act of 1994. The 1994 legislation removed the 1,000 foot radius surrounding a school, and instead made it mandatory for all States receiving Federal educational funds to establish laws governing firearms in schools. Under the minimum standards provision of the Federal law, any student that brings a firearm (to include pellet guns and explosives) to school must be removed from campus for at least one year.iii The law was updated in 2002 to permit students to lawfully store a firearm within a locked vehicle on school property, and to permit the possession of a firearm by a student on school property for approved and authorized school activities. Neither the 1994, nor the 2002 legislation addresses the issue of parents, teachers, or administrators possessing firearms on campus.iv

The 2002 Gun Free Schools Act puts individual gun owners in a quandary. Several States have passed legislation prohibiting all firearms on school property by any person, (whether a student, teacher, administrator, or parent) while other States have no restrictions on the possession of a firearm by non-students. If an individual wishes to carry a concealed firearm on public school property, it is advised that State laws be consulted to determine if such action would be legal.

Private and parochial schools are not subject to the provisions of the 2002 Gun Free Schools Act. As a result, the act does not regulate the possession of firearms by students on private school property. Nevertheless, be advised that a private or parochial school may impose restrictions on the possession of firearms on their property. In addition, individuals are advised to check State laws and school policy on the applicability of firearm possession on private school property.

Colleges and universities pose different challenges. While the 2002 Gun Free Schools Act applies only to secondary schools, colleges and universities are subject to State concealed carry laws. There are currently 24 States that prohibit concealed carry on college campuses.v An additional 15 States allow individual college campuses to decide whether to allow concealed carry on campus.vi Following the Virginia Tech shooting, Virginia became one of the 15 States that allow self-determination by colleges and universities. Nevertheless, given that most college campuses are bastions of elitism populated with anti-gun professors and administrators, very few colleges permit the legal possession of a concealed firearm on campus. Legislative efforts in Kansas, Texas, Missouri, and Louisiana have sought to allow legal concealed carry on campuses in their respective States, however Utah is the sole State that has passed legislation granting students the right to carry concealed firearms on campus on a State-wide basis.

While the following information is accurate as of press time, legislative action can, and does occur quickly. The following information is intended only as a guide, and does not replace the need to verify individual State laws and regulations. When in doubt, consult a legal authority with expertise within your area for additional information.

Jason M. Wong is an attorney licensed in the State of Washington. Mr. Wong is the managing partner of the Firearms Law Group, a law firm that represents manufacturers, importers, and exporters in the firearm and defense industries. The firm currently maintains offices in Washington, D.C., and Tacoma, Washington.


iPublic Law 101-647, codified at 18 USC 922(g)
iiU.S. v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549 (1995)

iiiThe Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994, Pub. L. 103–382, codified at 20 USC 8921
ivThe Gun-Free Schools Act, Pub. L. 107–110, codified at 20 USC 7151
vStates that prohibit concealed carry of firearms on campus are: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Wyoming.
viStates that grant discretion to individual colleges include: Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.


Travelling and Shipping NFA Firearms

Written by Jason M. Wong Monday, 02 March 2009 00:00

Moving NFA Firearms Safely and Legally

Going to the range to shoot is an easy task, right? Toss the guns into gun cases, put the cases into the truck, and drive to the range. Not too difficult. Title 1 firearms can be freely moved within a state and between States with few legal restrictions. Transportation of NFA firearms presents additional challenges and legal requirements.

Transporting NFA firearms can be classified into four categories – movement of NFA firearms within the state of residence or interstate on either a temporary or permanent basis. First and foremost, owners of NFA firearms should always ensure that a copy of the registration paperwork is with the firearm at all times. The original Form 4 registration should be kept in a safe place and a copy of the original kept with the NFA firearm. The Form 4 is the owner’s proof of registration and should be made available to ATF or law enforcement officers upon request. Having a copy of the form may prevent unnecessary legal expenses for defending against otherwise legal conduct while travelling away from home.

Read more: Travelling and Shipping NFA Firearms

Nationwide Concealed Carry for Active and Retired Law Enforcement Officers

Written by Jason M. Wong Sunday, 01 March 2009 00:00

A legal approach to concealed carry by first responders.

Download PDF here

On July 22, 2004, President Bush signed into law the Law Enforcement Officers’ Safety Act of 2004, also known by the acronym LEOSA. By enacting the law, qualified active and retired law enforcement officers may carry concealed nationwide, based solely upon their law enforcement credentials in States that may otherwise restrict the concealed carry of a firearm. Bear in mind that although law enforcement officers may carry a concealed firearm legally, there are specific requirements and limitations within the law that officers should be aware of. Disregarding the law may unnecessarily expose officers to liability that can easily be avoided by simply knowing the limitations and restrictions under the law.

Who does the law apply to? The law applies to active and retired law enforcement officers, and defines both terms within the statute. An active law enforcement officer is defined as:

  • an officer that is authorized by law to engage in or supervise the prevention, detection, investigation, or prosecution of, or the incarceration of any person for, any violation of law, and has statutory powers of arrest;
  • is authorized by the agency to carry a firearm;
  • is not the subject of any disciplinary action by the agency;
  • meets standards, if any, established by the agency which require the employee to regularly qualify in the use of a firearm;
  • is not under the influence of alcohol or another intoxicating or hallucinatory drug or substance; and
  • is not prohibited by State or Federal law from receiving a firearm.

    Read more: Nationwide Concealed Carry for Active and Retired Law Enforcement Officers


Safeguards for Carrying Pocket Pistols

Written by Jason M. Wong Friday, 27 February 2009 00:00

A legal approach to the "do's" and "don't's" of carrying a concealed pocket pistol.

Download state-by-state carry guide here

The use of a compact or sub-compact pistol for concealed carry is not a new phenomenon, but the practice has grown since the advent of small, yet reliable semiautomatic pistols. While there are many potential definitions of a “pocket pistol,” for the purposes of this article, a pocket pistol is defined as a small pistol (either a semi-automatic or a revolver) that can be effectively concealed. The method of carry may include a holster on the hip or ankle, a pants pocket, or even an exterior coat pocket. A pocket pistol may be as small as a 5-shot revolver chambered in .22 (the North American Arms .22 Magnum revolver) or a smaller version of a full sized pistol with ten rounds of .45 ACP, like the Glock model 30. A pocket pistol need not be chambered in a diminutive or underpowered caliber. The legal issues concerning the carry and concealment of a small pistol are no different than the issues concerning the carry of a larger pistol. There are however several aspects that bear increased scrutiny and added awareness when carrying a smaller pistol for personal protection.

Of greatest importance, is an awareness of the laws governing the concealed carry of a pistol. In many States, a concealed carry permit allows an individual to carry a concealed pistol. In some States, a concealed carry permit may allow the concealed carry of a pocket knife, or a weapon other than a pistol. Some States have very few restrictions regarding what type of weapons may be carried concealed, while some States apply broad restrictions on what types of firearms may be carried concealed. Bottom line: Know the laws that govern concealed carry for the State in which you intend to carry concealed. If your State allows residents to carry a concealed pistol, don’t carry anything other than a pistol. In the event that your State only allows the concealed carry of a pistol, the concealed carry of any other type of firearm is likely to be illegal, and potentially subject to criminal prosecution. Know the limitations of the local laws, and stay within the legal boundaries.

Read more: Safeguards for Carrying Pocket Pistols


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