The federal government only has so much purview over creating gun-free zones; some are also created by state law. In fact, MOST are created by state laws; federal regulations only cover schools and certain federal properties.
Now, as far as schools are concerned, federal law obviously allows for people holding a permit – or those legally eligible to carry/possess firearms in a constitutional carry state – to conceal and carry in school zones.
State law, however, is another matter, as schools are usually state property and therefore have the controlling interest as far as school policies are concerned.
Now, exactly WHAT states mandate as far as guns and school zones are concerned depends entirely on what state you’re in. Some states are incredibly strict, others take a more balanced approach.
It is up to YOU to research and know the law of your city and state regarding guns and school zones. Ignorance of the law will not be an accepted excuse.
Take, for instance, Alien Gear Holsters’ home state of Idaho.
Section 18, Chapter 33 of Idaho’s criminal code states that it is a crime to possess a firearm on school grounds or buildings (public or private) unless:
- “a peace officer” or a retired police officer with a license to carry,
- The gun is part of “an appropriate program, an event, or other activity” approved by school authorities,
- if the gun is lawfully possessed and “secured and locked in (their) vehicle in an unobtrusive, nonthreatening manner”
- Lawfully possessed in the car “while delivering minor children, students or school employees”
- Or if a school district employee “authorized to carry a firearm” by school authorities
In other words, you can’t carry on school grounds at all unless you’re a police officer or authorized by the school’s board of trustees to do so, but you CAN be armed while dropping your kids off at school or taking someone to work there.
Neighboring Washington state has broadly similar laws; RCW 9.41.280 basically says the same thing with different wording.
These would be something of a balanced approach; you can have guns on school property if they are secured in your car. Some restrictions, yes, but you don’t have to disarm to make the school run.
Some people will say that that’s too restrictive and maybe it is, but the point isn’t to debate the merits of gun-free zones on school grounds; the point is to illustrate the differences in state laws on this topic.
Texas, by contrast, is much more liberal. Texas Penal Code Chapter 46, Section 03 forbids carrying of a firearm on school property at all…unless you have a permit.
Texas also forbids colleges from outright prohibiting concealed or open carry by erecting 30.06/30.07 signs, but does gives colleges latitude to prohibit weapons in certain campus locations. However, they do not thusly forbid primary or secondary schools.
However, some states are much more draconian. Massachusetts (Chapter 269, Section 10) forbids carrying firearms on school grounds even if you have a permit. The only exemptions are for police officers or people who have written permission from the school board.
So, as you can see, the laws vary. Make sure you check your state and local laws.