The State of Gun Free Zones – How Is 2016 Shaping Up?
The very term “gun free zone” is a misnomer. Unless every person entering and exiting an area is meticulously physically checked for weapons, there is absolutely no guarantee that someone in that room has a weapon he's not supposed to have. That means that person effectively has the advantage in either perpetrating violence or, conversely, defending his life from one.
Federal regulations stipulate that most Federally-held properties are gun free. This includes post offices, federal courthouses, and even the Social Security Administration. So, when we have to go to any of those places, we have to disarm with the hope that no one decides to turn that building into a bullseye.
Campus “Gun Free” Zones
Less clear are the state-level defined buildings and areas where the possession of a firearm by a civilian is forbidden. For instance, in Ohio, college campuses are largely “gun free zones”. And as any who've ever been through a college town, the lines are extremely blurry between college campus and municipal. That means, in Ohio, sometimes walking down the same sidewalk can unintentionally make a concealed carrier a felon. This is absolutely ridiculous – especially when considering that the majority of mass shootings have targeted “gun free zones”.
Let's take Texas, for instance. They recently passed legislation that prohibits state-funded universities and colleges from being “gun free”. Yet, administrators are still given authority to make sections of the campus “gun free”. Places like the dormitories, library, and other places can be designated “gun free zones” if administrators deem it so. So, as a concealed carrier, you can legally walk onto campus but good luck getting into some of the most essential buildings. It's just one more needless obstacle to well-meaning, law-abiding citizens who have a legal right to carry their firearms onto campus.
Business “Gun Free” Policies
In states like Texas, businesses are required to post signage dictating what manner of gun carrier can come into a building. For instance, 30.06 signage differs from 30.07 signage in the way that open carriage of a handgun isn't allowed by a concealed carrier with an inside the waist holster would be just fine. It's important to pay attention to this signage because it comes with the inherent danger of being asked to leave – or worse – being charged with trespassing. That's just something a concealed carrier ultimately isn't interested in. The best way to inform businesses that this decision is hurting them is by informing them that you choose not to do business with them because of their decision. Some businesses will be alright with that and we, as responsible concealed carriers, have to respect their decision.
Illegal “Gun Free” Areas
Believe it or not, just because someone says a place is a “gun free zone” doesn't make it so – unless that person is the owner or lessee of the property. Many municipal and county governments are running into this inconvenient truth by facing protesters who acknowledge state law trumps municipal and county law. A famous example of this can be found with the St. Louis Zoo – which has, against state law, defined itself as a “gun free zone”. It's actually not, but it is legally claiming a weak thread of a gray area in the state law to keep out people who would like to defend themselves and their families while visiting a state-funded facility.
This has also happened at the Houston Zoo – which is apparently using no known mandate to back up its assertion that it is “gun free”. This has actually brought down the state's wrath and we're seeing concealed carriers are making serious headway into turning that place around.
As concealed carriers, our biggest power lies within being individually responsible for our approach to carrying a concealed firearm. Things like keeping a low profile by using a comfortable, high-retention waistband concealed holster, carrying everyday, and obeying laws (even when they're inconvenient) are all ways we – as individuals – can positively affect the image of responsible gun ownership. The second part includes remaining vigilant with our democratic voice. Write letters to your representatives reinforcing and reminding them of your views on “gun free zones”, so there is a constant effort to remove barriers that hinder law-abiding citizens from their natural right to protect themselves, their families, and their property from harm.
About The Author
James England (@sir_jim_england) is the contributing editor for Alien Gear Holsters. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and private defense contracting in Afghanistan.