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Senate bill would legalize gun carry near schools in permitless carry states

Handgun. (Maxpixel/Released)
May 21, 2019

Republican senators introduced a constitutional carry bill last week that would allow legal gun owners to carry within federally prohibited school zones.

Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota introduced the Constitutional Carry States’ Rights Act on Thursday, which would amend federal law to allow gun owners to legally carry their guns near a school without a permit in accordance with their state law, a press release from his office said.

Currently, the 1990 Gun-Free School Zones Act establishes the carry of guns within 1,000 feet of schools as a federal crime except if the person carrying the gun is licensed by that state.

Instead of requiring a license, Rounds’ bill would create an exemption to simply require compliance with the state’s laws.

Rounds introduced the bill in support of his South Dakota constituents.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem signed a permitless “constitutional carry” gun bill into law, which goes into effect July 1. Due to the federal law, South Dakota residents carrying guns near schools would be in violation of federal law despite full compliance with state law.

“In South Dakota, we greatly value our right to bear arms,” said Rounds in a statement. “This legislation would close federal loopholes in the Gun-Free School Zones Act to make certain South Dakotans who choose to exercise their Second Amendment Right are treated the same as those who possess concealed handguns with a permit. I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance this commonsense legislation and continue protecting our right to bear arms.”

Out-of-state people who carry guns in accordance with state law would also be exempted from the federal law under Rounds’ bill.

Additional co-sponsors of the bill include Sens. Marsha Blackburn, Mike Braun, Kevin Cramer, Mike Enzi, Josh Hawley and Mike Lee.

“Many folks in Wyoming exercise their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms every day,” Enzi told the Bridger Valley Pioneer. “This legislation would help ensure that gun owners exercising Constitutional carry will no longer be stuck with confusing laws about where they can and can’t have their firearms.”

Simply driving on public roadways near a school while carrying a gun could put someone in violation of federal law.

Enzi’s office pointed out that drivers on Interstate 25 in Cheyenne would be within 1,000 feet of a school and violate federal law if they have a gun in their car.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.