I am taking it for granted that the majority of our readers already understand WHY we need to get rid of the gun free zones. Today's article is focused on how I think we might go about the legal process.
As a general rule, when we refer to gun free zones we are referring to places which allow for the general public to enter but prohibit patrons from carrying legal firearms into that place. Some gun free zones only prohibit open carry while the majority of gun free zones prohibit all firearms concealed or otherwise. Another important distinction to be made is the difference between government owned properties that are gun free zones and private properties that are gun free zones. Both need to be dealt with independently.
Government Gun Free Zones
Government gun free zones could include city, county, state, or federal buildings or properties where firearms are not allowed. Federal gun free zones such as post offices (all federal buildings) are naturally universally off limits in the USA while city, county and state gun free zones are going to exist specific to their own jurisdiction and thus vary significantly from one place to the next. The most topical, and arguably the most important of these are schools. Elementary, junior, middle, high schools as well as universities are generally owned and funded by the government and would be included as Government gun free zones in those states and jurisdictions where they are prohibited.
Private Property Gun Free Zones
Private property owners generally are empowered by law to be able to restrict firearms on their property if they so desire. This creates an environment in which gun owners are constantly on the look out for signs or written or verbal notice about a firearm restriction during the course of an average day. The majority of the places where adults spend our time is private property to include places like grocery stores, shopping malls, restaurants, movie theaters, banks, homes, businesses, and the gas station. In some states there are state level prohibitions against taking a firearm into churches and or establishments that sell alcohol but for the most part the decision to prohibit guns is left up to the property owner or the acting agent of the property owner.
The Challenges in The Legal Process
Getting rid of gun free zones isn't simple. Even if all the elected representatives of both the house and the senate could agree on a proposal it would still make it difficult to write up a bill that would actually have the legal authority to make the changes necessary. Here are some the main challenges in this issue:
- The Federal government has limited powers (or at least supposedly it does) and in theory cannot pass a law that requires that state, county, and city governments allow guns in their buildings and properties. It is simply outside the scope of the federal legislation. This means the changes would have to occur most at the state level… state by state.
- Property owners have rights. Among the best things about this country are the rights that come with property ownership. In order to pass a law that prevents property owners from restricting guns on their property one would have to trample on or undo all the existing rights of the property owner.
So What Do I Propose We Do to Get Rid of Gun Free Zones
Here are the proposals or ideas that I think have the best chance of happening.
- Pass a law that requires elementary, middle, junior, and high schools employ armed security. You would think it wouldn't take much to get something like this passed as representatives on both sides of the issue could likely come together to agree that this is a good idea. Perhaps more difficult at the Federal level but certainly at the state levels this should be easy to enact. The potential push back may come due to the potential costs that would be inflicted on school districts that are already strapped for cash. There are always ways to find money for a good proposal but I propose we take it from criminals by fining the endless number of criminals that attempt to buy guns despite being prohibited to do so. Its a few hundred thousand people each year of which less than 50 will actually be prosecuted and fined currently.
- Lets approach school security legislation from the good, better, best approach. Good is at least allowing each school district to decide if they want to put security officers in the school. Better is requiring schools put armed security at the school. Best is allowing that any adult with the legal ability to carry a concealed gun be able to do so in the school. Lets start at the top and work our way down the chain at each state legislature until we get one through.
- While we can't remove the rights of private property owners fully we could require that for the public's safety property owners provide armed security guards (based on the expected number of patrons at the property) OR they allow that the patrons themselves be armed. This may not sway your local restaurant (Starbucks) based on the average number of attendees but it is likely to have an impact on shopping malls and movie theaters that often have thousands of visitors to the property at any given time. Hiring armed security would be better than nothing but is more likely to act as a financial incentive to just allow private citizens to carry concealed.
- Giving businesses that prohibit firearms enough bad press can also go a long way to empowering change. While no amount of bad press is likely to stop the NFL from selling seats at football games, we may be able to sway American gun owners to switch the restaurants, hardware stores and movie theaters where they shop based on what companies have policies against guns. We are working as a company already and a more impactful strategy to use our mobile apps and our business directory to fully communicate what businesses don't allow guns.
I would love to hear your thoughts below in the comments about realistic approaches to making big change happen specific to getting rid of Gun Free Zones!