In the wake of the of the horrific Sandy Hook School massacre, questions are arising about the effectiveness of the 1990 Gun Free School Zones Act (GFSZA). According to the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) the intent of gun-free school zones is to establish “policies prohibiting the possession of guns in schools and within a set distance of school buildings helps to secure schools from gun-related violence and crime.”
Outgoing Congressman and former Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul (R – TX), proposed to repeal the 1990 legislation in July of 2011, but his bill received no co-sponsors. It was referred to the Judiciary Committee and later sat in the Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement where it languished.
Although, Rep. Paul’s bill is not likely to be brought to the floor, Congressman Louie Gohmert (R -TX) argued on Fox News Sunday for allowing school faculty members to be trained and armed so they can defend their students and themselves if need be.
The 1990 GFSZA was patterned after the “drug-free zone” idea in mind, says NCPC:
Many local districts have adopted weapon-free zones within and around the school, in many cases developing “zero tolerance” policies that direct severe sanctions (including expulsion) of students caught with guns or other dangerous weapons. Communities in states as diverse as Oklahoma, Washington, California, Missouri, and Pennsylvania have had success with this approach. The National School Safety Center and the authors of Violence In Our Schools, Hospitals, and Public Places endorse weapon-free school zones as an effective violence and crime prevention measure.
Despite claiming success as a result of the legislation’s enactment in 1991, the NCPC does not mention students and faculty across the country who have been slaughtered in various shootings on school grounds. The San Francisco Chronicle reported:
Nov. 1, 1991: Gang Lu, 27, a University of Iowa graduate student from China, used a .38-caliber revolver to kill four members of his department, another university employee and himself. He reportedly was angry because his doctoral dissertation was not nominated for an academic award.
May 1, 1992: Eric Houston, 20, a former student at Lindhurst High School in Olivehurst (Yuba County), returned to the school with a 12-gauge shotgun and a rifle. He killed three students and a teacher and wounded 10 others before surrendering to police. He was sentenced to death and is on Death Row at San Quentin State Prison.
March 24, 1998: Mitchell Johnson, 10, and Andrew Golden, 8, took seven guns to a school near Jonesboro, Ark., where they pulled a fire alarm and began shooting as everyone exited the school, killing four students and one teacher and injuring nine others. They were released from a juvenile detention center in 2005.
May 21,1998: Kipland Kinkel, 15, shot and killed his parents after being suspended from his Springfield, Ore., high school for bringing a gun on campus. He returned to the school the next morning, killing two students and wounding 22 others. He was sentenced to 111 years in prison without the possibility of parole.
April 20, 1999: Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, walked into Columbine High School in Colorado and in a rampage of gunfire and homemade bombs killed 12 students and a teacher before killing themselves. The massacre led to an increased emphasis on security at U.S. schools.
Oct. 28, 2002: Robert Flores, 40, a nursing student at the University of Arizona, shot and killed an instructor in her office on campus and then entered a classroom where he killed two more teachers before committing suicide.
March 21, 2005: Jeffrey Weise, 17, went on a shooting spree at Red Lake High School on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Minnesota. He killed nine people, including his grandfather, and wounded five others before killing himself.
Oct. 2, 2006: Charles Carl Roberts IV, 32, a milk-truck driver, killed five girls ages 7 to 13 execution-style, then turned the gun on himself, in a one-room Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pa. Five other girls were critically injured. The community focused on forgiveness and reconciliation after the shootings.
April 16, 2007: Seung-Hui Cho, 23, a student at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Va., shot and killed 32 people in attacks two hours apart in two campus buildings. Cho, who was diagnosed with mental illness, killed himself. The university was found negligent for not alerting the campus after the first round of shootings.
Feb. 27: T.J. Lane, 17, took a 22-caliber pistol and a knife to a high school in Chardon, Ohio, and fired 10 shots at a group of students sitting at a cafeteria table before school, authorities said. Three students died. Lane was arrested outside the school.
April 2: One L. Goh, 43, a former nursing student at private Oikos University near the Oakland International Airport, sprayed gunfire on a classroom there Monday, killing seven people in one of the deadliest attacks ever on a California campus, according to police. He was arrested an hour later at a store in Alameda.
In the meantime, if the federal government refuses to budge on repealing gun free school zone measures, the states and localities within them could start to go their own way.
A small Texas school district could be the first in the country to pass legislation allowing faculty members to carry firearms, Fox News reports.
Trustees at the Harrold Independent School District approved a district policy change last October so employees can carry concealed firearms to deter and protect against school shootings, provided the gun-toting teachers follow certain requirements.
Superintendent David Thweatt told Fox News the policy was initiated because of safety concerns.
“We have had employees assaulted before by people in the last several years,” Thweatt said. “I think that safety is big concern. We are seeing a lot of anger in society.”
In Michigan, the upper and lower chambers of the state legislature recently voted to allow gun owners with conceal carry permits and extra training to carry their weapons in a concealed manner in designated gun-free zones: schools, day care centers, sports arenas, bars, places of worship, hospitals, dorms and casinos. It should be noted that the state legislature voted on this bill the day before the Sandy Hook School Massacre. Michigan’s Republican Governor Rick Snyder has yet to sign the bill.