Judge Cites Second Amendment While Dismissing Gun Charge Against Former School Superintendent

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A former Kentucky school superintendent who was charged with possessing a firearm on public school property had his case thrown out by a judge this week, who said prosecutors hadn't been able to show a national tradition of prohibiting firearms on all property owned by a school district. 


John Gunn, the former school superintendent in McCreary County, had just resigned his position in February, 2023 when he went to the board of education office around 6 a.m. to gather his personal belongings from his office. Gunn was allegedly wearing a .45 caliber pistol when he showed up at the building, but he left because his access card had been deactivated and he couldn't get inside. When he returned during normal business hours he no longer had his gun with him, but he was still arrested by a school resource officer when he tried once more to collect his things. 

Gunn’s attorney, David S. Hoskins, argued that the law was an unconstitutional infringement on Gunn’s right to bear arms under the Second Amendment.

Hoskins cited a 2022 case in which the U.S. Supreme Court set out a new standard for deciding the legality of gun restrictions, commonly called the Bruen case.

The high court said that gun laws must be assessed on whether they are consistent with the nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.

Hoskins argued there was no historical analogue regarding regulating carrying guns on school property — as opposed to schools themselves — and as a result Kentucky’s prohibition on carrying guns as it was applied to Gunn was unconstitutional. 

The prosecutor, Commonwealth’s Attorney Ronnie Bowling, argued in response that the Supreme Court decision would still allow barring possession of guns in sensitive places such as schools.

Gunn’s act of carrying a gun at the school-board office “is not a traditional, historical recognized right” at the time the Second Amendment was ratified, Bowling said.


Bowling got it backward. Unless he could show a longstanding, national tradition of treating school administrative offices as "sensitive places", Gunn presumably had the right to have his firearm with him that morning, and Judge Dan Ballou cited the Supreme Court's "history, text, and tradition" test in dismissing the felony charge against the former superintendent. 

Ballou ruled the prosecution had not shown “that the Nation’s historical tradition of regulating the possession of firearms extends to an individual carrying a firearm on property not utilized as a school, during a time when neither students nor school employees were present, and with no other alleged criminal acts being committed, regardless of the ownership of the property at issue.”

Honestly, this case never should have been filed to begin with. There were never any allegations that Gunn intended to do harm to anyone in the building. In fact, he went to the board of education building early in the morning so he could collect his things and be gone before anyone else had shown up for work. This was simply about possessing a firearm, and I can't help but wonder if there was any underlying animosity from the school board that led to his arrest, when the easiest thing would have been to drop the matter once he'd cleared out his office. 


Hopefully the Commonwealth Attorney will take the loss and let this be the end of Gunn's ordeal instead of appealing Ballou's ruling and continuing on with the prosecution. The judge made the right call in dismissing the case on Second Amendment grounds, and the interests of the public aren't going to be served by trying to turn Gunn into a felon for merely possessing a gun outside of the school board's building early one morning. 

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