Sorry, Chief, But He Can Carry A Gun At School
Winchester, New Hampshire Police are confident that they can enforce laws concerning guns, even if they clearly don’t understand them:
The reason the town’s elementary school went into lockdown for about 10 minutes Thursday afternoon turned out to be a parent with a concealed weapon waiting for his children.
Winchester Police Chief Gary A. Phillips told the Reformer his department was called at 3:14 p.m. with a report that there was a person with a concealed weapon in front of the school shortly after a Drug Abuse Resistance Education graduation ended. He said officers arrived at the school and met with the subject, who had a permit to carry and was on the sidewalk waiting to bring his children home.
A federal law, Gun-Free Schools Zone Act, prohibits people from carrying a loaded gun, even if that person is properly licensed, within 1,000 feet of a public or parochial school. Phillips said the man was unaware of this law and immediately expressed remorse for the mistake. The chief said an officer waited with the man until he left with his children and no citations were given. However, the subject was told he could never again bring a loaded weapon within 1,000 of the school.
It’s too bad that neither Chief Phillips nor the newspaper actually understands the Gun Free School Zone Act, which includes an exemption that specifically allows for the concealed carry of weapons on school grounds in accordance with state laws.
Does not apply to the possession of a firearm—
(i) on private property not part of school grounds;
(ii) if the individual possessing the firearm is licensed to do so by the State in which the school zone is located or a political subdivision of the State, and the law of the State or political subdivision requires that, before an individual obtains such a license, the law enforcement authorities of the State or political subdivision verify that the individual is qualified under law to receive the license;
Curiously enough, federal law does not provide an exemption for off duty police officers that do not also have concealed weapons permits.
Perhaps town attorneys might want to give the Winchester PD a refresher in concealed carry laws.