Amy Hetzner


In separate opinions issued in 2008 and 2010, the United States Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees an individual right to bear arms. For as lengthy as those opinions were, however, the justices only briefly dealt with possible limits to that right. Both decisions provided that their holding would not invalidate “longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings.” This Comment argues that the uncertainty about the scope of the Second Amendment right has hardly been tempered by the Court’s limiting language and that federal and state laws criminalizing the possession of loaded handguns within 1000 feet of schools might be in danger. The Comment further argues that the utility of gun-free school zone laws has been hampered and that lawmakers should consider necessary changes in light of potential legal challenges as well as recent legislative actions. These recommended changes would penalize the discharge but not the possession of a handgun within 1000 feet of schools, while they would also eliminate the requirement in current statutes that the individual know that he is within a school zone before punishment can be meted out.

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