U.S. Rep. Tom Massie, the congressman who represents the Kentucky side of the Cincinnati metropolitan area, used his first day in Congress to file a bill that would erase a 23-year-old federal ban that makes it a crime to carry guns near schools.
As of the filing, Massie did not have any co-sponsors signed up and details were sparse because the government printing office said it did not have the full text of the measure to put online.
The existing Gun-Free School Act of 1990, which was adopted when former president George H.W. Bush was in the White House, was amended in 1995. As late as 1999, the National Rifle Association (NRA) testified in support of the measure, a position it seems to have dropped after the Sandy Hook massacre.
Under the existing law, so-called “school zones” include but are not limited to parks, sidewalks, roads and highways within 1,000 feet of the property line of a public or private elementary, middle or high school. The law makes it practically impossible to travel in populated areas without entering a “gun-free school zone.” People with state-issued licenses or permits to carry guns are exempted by the federal law, but the exemption is only good in the state that issued the permit.
The law doesn’t exempt out-of-state travelers who have permits, nor does it allow off-duty police officers to pack a weapon in a school.
The bill is similar to one introduced by retired U.S. Rep. Ron Paul while the Texan was campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination. He called his repeal measure the Citizen Protection Act, and he got no support from co-sponsors. Paul’s bill died when the new Congress was sworn in Dec. 30, but Massie resurrected it.
Massie is a tea party adherent — elected last fall to replace Geoff Davis — who largely shares the political philosophies of Paul and his son, Sen. Rand Paul, who is also from Kentucky. Massie voted against John Boehner for speaker on the opening day of the 113th Congress, an act of open defiance against the Republican House leadership.