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Los Angeles California Gun-Free School Zone Act

June 22, 2016 Personal Injury

The California Gun Free School Zone Act, otherwise known as Penal Code 626.9 PC, was enacted in 1995 to ensure student safety in and around school. The act prohibits you from knowingly carrying or shooting a firearm within 1,000 feet of any school zone, be it a public or private school. For this article, the purpose is to look at the most important elements you need to understand about this act, lest you find yourself on the wrong side of the law, with a huge price to pay.

What is a School Zone?

According to Los Angeles California Gun Free School Zone Act, a “school zone” refers to an area within, or on the grounds of, a private or a public school offering instruction in kindergarten or grades 1 – 12, within a 1,000-foot distance from the grounds of the private or public school.

A “school zone” doesn’t refer to residential places or business premises or private property, if the residential place, business premises, or private property isn’t part of the school grounds, and the firearm possession is otherwise lawful.

What Are The Consequences of Violating Penal Code 626.9?

If you are convicted of illegally possessing a firearm on school grounds in breach of the California Gun-Free School Zone Act, then you’ll face up to a five-year jail term.

Conversely, If you are found guilty of violating the Act by possessing a firearm within 1,000 feet of any school, but not on the school grounds, then you will also face up to a five-year prison sentence if any of the following applies to you:

  • You have any prior felony conviction.
  • You’re prohibited from carrying a weapon owing to certain past offenses, such as narcotics possession charges.
  • The court has deemed you to be unfit to possess a weapon due to a mental disorder or defect.
  • You’re prohibited from carrying a firearm as a conditional sentence.
  • You are carrying a concealed firearm in a vehicle, and the weapon is either loaded or not in a locked container.

It is also worth noting that although universities and colleges are beyond the scope of a “school zone” definition, possessing a firearm on these precincts still subjects you to prosecution under Penal Code 626.9 PC.

Are There Any Exceptions To This Act?

In spite of the restrictions of the Los Angeles California Gun-Free School Zone Act, there are several provisions in the law that ensures that a law-abiding firearm owner is not unfairly penalized under this law. The law doesn’t apply to simply possessing a weapon under the following situations:

  • You are on private or business property, and you legally possess the weapon, i.e. it is registered even if it is within 1,000 feet from a school.
  • You have written authorization by the school district.
  • You’re carrying a concealed weapon that is either unloaded or in a locked container in your car.
  • You reasonably fear that your life is in grave danger, according to California’s self-defence laws. It is worth noting that this exemption doesn’t apply if you, and your husband/wife have a mutual automatic restraining order after you’ve filed for divorce.

Conclusion

The Los Angeles California Gun-Free School Zone Act penalizes you for possessing a gun in a place that you know or rationally should know is within a school zone. The Act also punishes you for discharging a weapon or even attempting to discharge a weapon, within a school zone. If you’re charged with any crime relating to this act, you should contact an experienced Los California attorney that will advise and guide you accordingly.

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