Federal law mandates that all U.S. schools must effectively operate as gun-free zones. Could this unconstitutional federal law actually be putting our children in greater danger? If so, what can we do about it?
The recent shooting in Santa Fe, Texas began another round of talk from both Democrats and Republicans on gun control.
What they all fail to understand is that the distinguishing feature of the Santa Fe shooter’s high school compared to most of Texas is that his school is a gun free zone because of a federal mandate. The Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 (18 U.S. Code § 921) signed by Pres. H.W. Bush prohibits the carrying of firearms by an “unauthorized person” within a school zone.
Neither side of the debate focuses on the fact that 98% of all mass shootings occur in gun-free zones.
When reading detailed media reports about the events at Santa Fe High School, we can get the impression that they happened very quickly. But, a report that takes 30 seconds to read must be disentangled so that each component can be understood. The whole picture then becomes clearer.
Texas has some good laws on concealed and open carry firearms. The Lone Star State does not allow for concealed carry without a permit, but it does authorize both concealed and open carry with a valid license.
With a few exceptions, anyone in Texas might be armed. It would be foolish to attack a random Texan who potentially has the means to defend himself. The shooter would have known this.
The would-be shooter first stole his father’s .38 caliber revolver and a shotgun. According to reports, he lived less than three miles from his high school where the shooting took place.
He avoided killing his family. His father, from whom he stole the revolver and shotgun, owned guns. There could be many reasons why he did not attack his father, but the possibility that the shooter knew his father would shoot back must be among the reasons why.
Immediately after leaving his home the shooter had the opportunity to shoot the first person he saw or to knock on a neighbors’ door and kill them. This would have been foolish, as in both cases the individual could have been carrying a concealed firearm, as is allowed under Texas law.
How many homes did the shooter pass during his three-mile trip to school? Did he pass grocery stores or office buildings? Maybe he passed a parking lot. Certainly, he passed others on his way to school. But in all of those cases, the other individuals may have been carrying firearms. The shooter could not have known who was armed and who was not.
Instead, he went to his high school. He went to a gun free zone.
Breaking It Down: The Unarmed
The Santa Fe high school had already taken small steps toward protecting the students. There were two armed guards, called School Resource Officers (SRO), stationed at the school. The school district even agreed to arm teachers and staff under a state program. Though this program had not yet taken effect.
But two SROs are not enough and neither is a bureaucratic program to arm teachers.
First, in a gun free zone that restricts firearms to certain people, school shooters will go after those armed SROs first. This leaves everyone else vulnerable. Only allowing SROs and teachers to have firearms in schools prohibits the possibility that a visitor or student may be able to shoot back. There was a time in America when students brought their guns to school. They usually left them in their vehicles, but a quick trip to the car to grab a firearm during an emergency could have saved lives.
Second, whether you call it a natural right or pre-political right, self-defense pre-existed the American government. But, this does not stop Washington from passing laws that violate the natural right to self-defense as well as the constitutional protections prohibiting the passage of those laws.
The Right to Protect Yourself
There is an effective way that states and localities can fight back against this federal aggression.
No permission is needed for states to nullify any unconstitutional law. States and localities can ban “assistance to federal gun control measures immediately.” Ending the state enforcement of the federal gun free schools laws will immediately make schools harder targets for mass shooters.
Of course, action can be taken at the federal level. Washington can start by repealing the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994. But instead of taking positive steps toward protecting students, members of Congress are discussing ways to “harden” schools through the use of video cameras and magnetometers. There is also interest in the use of Gun Confiscation Orders (GCO). These GCOs would allow someone to petition a court for the confiscation of a person’s firearms because of the potential that the accused may commit a violent act in the future with a firearm. The accused might not even be in the courtroom to defend himself. He may find out that the GCO has been issued when a background check is performed on him during the purchase of a firearm or even when the police come to his home to confiscate his firearms.
Federal prohibitions on firearms in schools allow criminals to kill defenseless children. This is the sobering reality of the law. In states like Texas that allow concealed carry, public shooters avoid establishments that allow firearms. Their final stop is the one place that everyone knows is unlikely to have any armed individuals.
Tenth Amendment Center
The Tenth Amendment Center is a national think tank that works to preserve and protect the principles of strictly limited government through information, education, and activism. The center serves as a forum for the study and exploration of state and individual sovereignty issues, focusing primarily on the decentralization of federal government power as required by the Constitution. For more information visit the Tenth Amendment Center Blog.