What’s The Big Deal About “Gun Free Zones”?

Wisconsin School Zone Empowerment Act Would Allow CCW in Schools
What’s The Big Deal About “Gun Free Zones”?
What’s The Big Deal About “Gun Free Zones”?


My wife and I live in New Orleans and recently decided to head down to the French Quarter to have lunch and check out some of the local shops. Due to the amount of crime, we generally steer away from the French Quarter except on special occasions, this one being our 5 year anniversary. As usual, I carried my concealed firearm with me. We both thought checking out the Katrina Museum would be interested so we headed that way.

Once we got there we saw a “No Firearms Allowed” sign. Being that these signs DO have the force of law in Louisiana, we decided to skip the museum and head straight to lunch. Like most of us, I just don’t understand how this “protects” anyone. Once I got home I decided to send them a message on Facebook:

Louisiana State Museum - No Firearms


How can they claim to fully support my Second Amendment right yet ban firearms from the museum? How does this “ensure the safety of their patrons?”

Last night a shooter opened fire in a theater in Lafayette, LA which was also a “Gun Free Zone.” He obviously ignored the signs and their “code of conduct.” All these do is prevent citizens that obey laws from protecting themselves. I sent them another message this morning asking how exactly does banning firearms “ensure the safety of their patrons” when these shootings keep happening in Gun Free Zones. I have yet to hear back from them.

While many of us do not agree with Gun Free Zones, we do need to be aware of the laws surrounding them.

Once you get a concealed carry permit, you’d think that the world would be your veritable oyster.  Unlike a lot of states which strictly prohibit the open carrying of firearms, concealed carriers are a lot less noticeable and are, in some cases, allowed to go places where an open carrier cannot.

And then there are “gun free zones”.  And we’re going to break down what constitutes a “gun free zone”, how it’s regulated, and why you need to be cognizant of them.

Federal Gun Free Zones

The federal government, at different times, has passed and signed into law different pieces of legislation which strictly prohibit civilians carrying firearms.  Many of them were advertised as “common sense” legislation designed to protect vulnerable areas from a criminal or a deranged gunman — however they have yet to really restrict that in practice.

Violating a federal “gun free zone” law carries with it a hefty penalty and federal charges.  That means federal prosecution and federal prison if convicted.  So the full weight of the law can and will apply to those who fail to acknowledge it.

Gun Free School Zones

One such example is the Gun Free School Zones Act of 1990.  This act was signed into law by George H.W. Bush back in 1990.  It’s been challenged many, many times since it’s become law but overall, it holds that a person cannot knowingly carry a loaded firearm onto school grounds unless they meet a very select criteria.

States do have the ability to make additional provisions.  Some examples of those provisions include (but are not limited to):

  • Law enforcement acting in an official capacity.
  • Off-duty police.  Some – not all – states allow this.  Wisconsin has recently signed into law a measure which allows off-duty and honorably retired police to bring their firearms onto school ground.
  • Private property adjacent to a school.
  • An unloaded firearm in a locked container being brought onto a school zone for a program approved by the school on its property.
  • Some states such as Utah have no prohibition against carrying concealed in a school with a valid permit.

Federally Designated “Gun Free Zones”

Government facilities owned and operated by the federal government – such as court houses, post offices, correctional facilities, and even Veteran Affairs buildings – are all designated “gun free”.  This means you must have specific authorization by the federal government to carry a firearm on federal property.  Notable exceptions exist for law enforcement responding to an emergency, contract security, and duly authorized members of military or federal law enforcement.

Here’s a few places that are federally protected “gun free” zones that you may not have realized:

  • Amtrak Trains and Train Stations.  For a weird reason, Amtrak is given federal protection even though it’s a privately run company.  You can transport your firearms in an unloaded state, in a locked container separate from ammunition with the intention of checking them in through baggage.
  • Corps of Engineers Property.  The Army Corps of Engineers is an odd entity that owns and operates on surprisingly vast swaths of land.  Unlike national parks which allow carriage of firearms, Army Corps of Engineers land is federally restricted.  That means if you go on a hunting trip and stumble over onto ACE property – you’re in violation of federal gun laws.

Most States Acknowledge Private Property Owners Right To “Opt Out”

Many states have provisions within their laws to allow private property owners to designate their property as “gun free”.  This means that unless you have prior permission from the owner of that property, you can be asked to leave if it is discovered you have a firearm on your person.  Not all states acknowledge this and most require that clear signage be placed informing visitors of that “gun free” designation.  Texas, for instance, has extremely strict requirements for a property owner to designate an area as “gun free” for both concealed and open carriers.

In addition to each state having its own restrictions and prohibitions on where and when a concealed carrier may take his pistol, there can also be county and municipal ordinances as well.

In general, it’s a good idea to pay attention to signs when you’re entering a business or another person’s property.  Every place that is a “gun free zone” has to post that information in a clear, concise manner and in a conspicuous place but ultimately it will be your responsibility to determine this information.  Ignorance of the law is not an excuse that often holds up in court.

If you ever doubt the validity of a place’s “gun free zone” designation, check the sign to see if it has an ordinance or law citation attached to it.  If it doesn’t, err on the side of caution until you can confirm or deny the enforcement of such a law.

Here is just a sample of some of the “Gun Free Zone” related messages we found on Twitter today.







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Luke McCoy is the founder of USA Carry. In 2007, he launched USA Carry to provide concealed carry information and a community for those with concealed carry permits and firearm enthusiasts.
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No one “allows” me to carry. And no sign stops me from carrying. We are at war people, whether some realize it or not. Protect yourselves, whether you are “allowed” to or not.



As a police sergeant acquaintance of mine once said. . . “That’s what the word ‘concealed’ means. No one knows you have it.”


gun free zones are meant for the bad guys to be armed only, like these sanctuary city’s, And The big O is going to try like hell to disarm the people before he goes bye bye . than only the bad guys will have gun’s that includes his Gov, team of criminals. If you obey his phone and pen laws.
heck hes giving Iran a bomb soon say good bye to Israel

William Burke

Nobody “gave Iran a bomb”. That’s absurd. The agreement specifically limits them to a level of uranium enrichment for nuclear energy only.

Iran wants nuclear power because they lack oil refining facilities; I’d be happier if they built refineries instead. In fact, I’d be happier if we all agreed to end nuclear power – Fukushima and the death of the Pacific should have demonstrated nuclear power’s failures to the world. But it didn’t, which makes me wonder just what would.

Denton Newland

Iran has clearly stated that Israel is small and that it would be impossible to completely destroy Iran therefore it is worth the risk in order to destroy Israel. These are the people who strap bombs on little children to blow up little Jewish children. Their hate is beyond your understanding.

William Burke

And it’s ISRAHELL that drops WILLY PETE bombs on civilians herded into RESERVATIONS, which are not like the open ranges of American Indians, but more like concentration camps.

Do you REALLY believe that only Israel would nuke Iran? Not the US? Not Great Britain? Not France? Not Germany? Jesus, you’re so dumb that if they put your brain up a gnat’s ass, it’d rattle like a BB IN A BOXCAR.


Nuclear power is fine.

Fukushima was an old plant that, via corruption, was allowed to ignore safety updates leading to its failure.

nuclear power plants made in the last 30 years are safer than coal power.

Like it or not, solar and wind will not sustain us through the end of peak oil. Nuclear power is the best stopgap we have, unless you like energy wars and the resulting inevitable world population adjustment.

William Burke

About 80% of the world’s nuclear plants are roughly the same age as Fukushima’s.

And oil is a renewable resource; the notion that oil comes from decayed biomass is erroneous. Oil is created from volcanic activity deep in the Earth.

Many “empty” wells have been found to be full again!

This must be Stupid Day on the Internet.

John P

You are right on oil being a renewable resource, I worked the oil fields of Wyoming and the Geologist and oil industry has proven oil renews it self through micro-biology and as you stated volcanic heat at earth’s center.

William Burke

Natural Gas not so much, probably. Since Natural Gas often occurs in the absence of Oil, it may be governed by different circumstances.


I worked for a nuclear plant for a little over a year. Worst job I ever had. Nuclear energy production must be cheap, but the government regulations on it are incredibly hard to get anything done. On top of that, almost all nuclear power plants are around 30 years old and operate on at least 30 year old technology since that is what it was licensed under when built. I agree that they are safe to operate however (the safety systems are designed such for the plant to shutdown, not to keep the plant running), but the amount of nuclear waste created (for an eternity) is rather scary. I would like to see something else take it’s place.

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William Burke

You’re quite correct. Rights are not conferred upon you by any state; you already have them. “Allows” converts a natural right into a revokable PRIVILEGE.

Stan Huie

I have done the same. However, we need to realize that if we pressed into s situation where we used our weapons, we will likely be prosecuted along with the bad guy. My answer to this is that if I use my weapon it will be to save my life and I will be less worried about a prosecution or a law suit.

George Beltz

I can not and will not support businesses who are “Gun Free Zones.” Granted I miss the theater showings, many restaurants and even commercial stores, but, My not becoming a victim because of their wanting to tell me that I am not allowed to protect myself and my family, it is their loss.


I was shopping for a new car. I had been on the lot for 30 minutes and not one salesperson had approached me. I decide to enter the showroom. Could not, on the front door was their “No-Guns” sign. A week later, I emailed a letter to the Vice President of the dealership and informed her that while shopping for a new car, I noticed your no guns sign, I honored your decision to post that sign by leaving. I went to your competition and spent $25,000 dollars!



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There is a lot of misinformation out there. I too am from New Orleans and constantly have to figure out where a permit holder can legally cary. Usually any City or State owned building is a gun free zone, however any building owner who posts a no-gun sigh in Louisiana can make it a gun free zone.


Businesses need to be made accountable to state laws with no exceptions.

2nd Amendment

I will not go to a place where they have GUN FREE ZONE PASTED ON THE DOOR I will leave and go else where I will not go into a place where i can not protect myself & my family at that place of business,

arte vespule

Yup. All us gun owners need to organize a boycott of these businesses….

William Burke

I agree.


To paraphrase George Patton, Gun free zones are a monument to the stupidity of man.

I do not patronize gun free zones with the exception of unavoidable trips to a government building. And if for some reason I must enter a private gun free zone, I carry anyway. That’s why they call it concealed. If they somehow find out I have a concealed weapon (which has never happened) all they can legally do is ask me to leave and I will.

arte vespule

Same here, exactly. In my state a private business can post a gun free zone sign, otherwise known as the “come in and shoot us zone”. However it has no force of law. If anything it amounts to misdemeanor trespassing, and then only if you refuse to leave if asked…


Same here. If they ask you to leave and you don’t, they can have you charged with trespassing. Period.

Never been asked to leave because I carry concealed. But I do carry the little cards our local 2nd Amendment rights group provides telling them they will not get my business and I will tell my friends as well, just in case.

Dr Duke

Sadly in Illinois (ruled by the People’s Republic of Chicago) they have the force of law. I doubt that will ever change. Due to all the voting dead in Chiraq the Democrats control the state legislature and will not let pro gun bills come up for vote. This way downstate politicians can honestly say “I never voted against a pro gun bill” and keep their NRA rating and money.

William Burke

In New Orleans, I believe, they do have the force of law. They lack the force of rationality, but have the force of law.


Federal gun-free school zone – 1985. Lopez was arrested, tried, and convicted for having a gun in a gun free zone. Upon appeal to the SCoTUS, his conviction was overturned – Clarance Thomas for the majority – “The federal government has nothing approaching a police power to exercise in the States of the Union.” Lopez v. the US.


The mentally insane think they can have their cake & eat it too, keep voting with your wallet, they’ll get the message.

Charles Brumbelow

See the “No Firearms Allowed” signs at the Cleveland convention center? Are you impressed? I was.


No Browning Hi-Power sign. I’m fine. (whether that applies to CZ75’s is up for debate)

Dr Duke

The Illinois sign shows a Beretta 92. I am tempted to ask the next place I see one “So this means my revolver is OK right?’ just to see what they do.


If I can get it posted properly, here’s my take on gun free zones.

Matthew Bonneau

Dont remember the town, but out west somewhere, a town passed a law that every citizen who could legally do so HAD to be trained and own/carry a handgun. Bet they have little, if any random violent crime. As far as gun free zones, I would rather carry and break the law, say if I had to use my weapon in defense of myself or my fellow citizen. Let em charge me for carrying illegally. Being judged by 12 beats the hell outta being carried by 6


I ignore gun free zone signs…. Sorry folks but I refuse to be one of the fish in the barrel.


What gun, I don’t see any gun do you? Are you profiling me?


In Idaho, those signs can be found on many businesses, but the law does not uphold them unless it is a qualified government building. Even though the law passed to carry concealed on college campuses, every one of the campus buildings still has those signs and administrators are completely against carrying. Know what you can and can’t do in your state and make sure your concealed carry is concealed.

William Burke

CRIMINALS IGNORE LAWS! If they obeyed them, they wouldn’t be criminals; we call that a “law-abiding citizen”. It’s a basic, simple equation, one that the anti-guns nuts ignore, or pretend to.


You failed to mention the insidious nature of the Gun Free School Zones Act. The zone extends for 1,000 feet from school property (not just the buildings). And licensed carriers from other states are not exempted in any way even if state law recognizes the license. Since schools are often built close to highways and interstates, the effect is to criminalize possession of a loaded firearm for any out of state travelers. Look at a map and try to find a way to travel on major roads through any state with a loaded firearm without violating the law.


One reason that liberalism is a mental disease is its belief that stating a position makes it true.
Liberals do not need to prove their position or back it up with current facts.

So the sign creates an invisible aura that makes everyone and everything “safe” within the building. Without the sign, there must be an attractor that occasionally causes firearms to fire a bullet, without the intervention of the person carrying it.

Of course, I don’t remember hearing of this ever happening in a museum, but it must be true because the management believes it to be true.

William Burke

It’s a mental DISORDER. Since the mind is not a physical thing, it can no more “ill” than thought or humor can be “ill”. “Mental illness” is a useless metaphor; call it what it is: a mental DISORDER.

The term, “illness” allows the state’s Mental Police to evoke control in a province that they have no authority in. It should disappear from the vocabulary.

Dr Duke

One of the Chiraq suburbs was allowed to keep an “Assault Weapons” ban even though they could not prove a public safety benefit because it would make the members of the community feel safer. So feelings are a justification to repeal Constitutional rights now.

John P

The businesses that post gun-free zone signs should ask, Starbucks and other businesses that have posted these sign how much business they have lost since posting no gun signs.


Gun free zone, target rich environment
Potato, potaato