Breaking The Law: What Should We Do When Encountering A “Gun Free Zone” While Carrying?
This article was written based on a large demand to cover the topic. While we are indeed covering this topic, Concealed Nation’s stance is to abide by all Local, State and Federal laws. We do not condone breaking the law, even if we feel that law is unjust. Instead, we advocate and push readers to do their part to get these laws changed so that future concealed carriers are able to legally defend themselves wherever they go.
We get asked a lot of questions that sometimes run akimbo of the law of the land.
We get it. “Gun free zones” are ridiculous. There’s absolutely no use for them and they don’t protect anybody. And theoretically, if we lived in a democratic society, we could repeal any law stipulating when and where a person can carry. Until that happens…
We can’t advise you on how best to break the law.
At the very least, we can warn you of the implications of those actions. But if we developed an entire site dedicated to circumventing the law, that would be extremely irresponsible.
Here’s what we can do — separate the fact from fiction when it comes to different types of “gun free zones”.
Federal “Gun Free Zones”
This is a very short list of facilities and locations that are protected by the Federal government. They include Department of Defense facilities (military bases), recruiting outposts, courthouses, and prisons. Amtrak is also covered. Oh, and don’t forget about the Post Office. Violating these “gun free zones” comes with potential federal charges.
Federal charges come with federal sentencing and doing time in federal penitentiaries.
The above is a picture of the United States Federal Penitentiary, Victorville. It’s a place for bad guys — not you.
Fun note: if you commit felonies across states lines, you will probably get to meet a federal prosecutor face-to-face.
So stepping foot onto a military base with a concealed carry handgun is a very bad idea. Similarly, walking into federal court with your favorite everyday carry is also a great way to impress the prosecution team… And make your defense attorney contemplate recusing himself.
Okay, federal is out of the way. Don’t mess with the Feds unless you plan on making it a precedent-setting court case.
- Minimum damages: Loss of CCW permit, forfeiture of firearm, probation, tens of thousands in attorney and court costs/fees
- Maximum damages: Federal prison time, loss of CCW permit, criminal forfeiture of firearms, hundreds of thousands in attorney and court costs/fees.
State “Gun Free Zones”
Your state likely issued your permit to carry concealed unless you live in a state which allows permitless concealed carry for residents (aka “constitutional carry”). As such, they usually reserve the right to revoke or suspend that license based upon inappropriate actions on your part.
In Ohio, for instance, if you step foot onto a university campus with a concealed carry firearm and you’re not directly in the process of putting it into your vehicle, that’s a felony offense.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned about felonies, it’s that it’s near impossible to get your license back after getting a felony offense. It’s a very steep uphill legal battle and most attorneys won’t even attempt it without a decently sized yacht filled to the brim with expensive gin and Benjamin Franklins.
So, don’t go getting a felony because the state said it’s going to restrict your right to carry.
- Minimum damages: Permit revocation/suspension, criminal/civil forfeiture of firearm, fees and fines.
- Maximum damages: Prison time, loss of CCW permit, criminal/civil forfeiture of firearms.
Private Property “Gun Free Zones”
Businesses, in some states, do not have a right to designate their business “gun free” to concealed carriers unless they post specific signage in prominent areas of the business. Texas is a great example of this with their 30.06 signage. Now, not all states are required to do this but in general they can and will post some indicator that they have a weapons policy in place.
If a business sees you are carrying a concealed firearm and they ask you to leave, you are generally obligated to do so. And if you are spotted, it’s generally a good idea. If you leave immediately and don’t cause a scene, that will likely be the end of it.
Private landowners may put up signage requesting visitors to not carry concealed or openly. That’s their right and it’s protected by the state. Violating this, in most cases, will result in a misdemeanor offense if you do not immediately remove yourself from the premises. Civil charges are possible depending upon how easily offended the landowner. But, think about it in terms of your home. If you requested that visitors do not bring firearms with them, wouldn’t you be (to say the least) mildly offended if they refused?
- Minimum damages: Charged with misdemeanor trespassing, occasionally a felony depending upon state/county/municipal jurisdiction. Fees and fines are possible. Civil charges are possible.
- Maximum damages: Suspension/revokation/loss of CCW permit, civil forfeiture of firearms, civil charges, minor criminal charges (misdemeanor, usually).
So, now at least you can see the spectrum you’re up against. For states that are extremely gun-adverse (New York, Maryland, D.C., Hawaii, New Jersey, California), there’s definitely the opportunity for more complications. In general, how you handle yourself when you’re spotted will dictate the rest, if you choose to disregard the gun-free sign.
Those two pieces, right there, will certainly play a factor in everything else. So, can we advise you on how best to break the law? Absolutely not. That said, now you know the potential ramifications, decide for yourself what’s best for you. In our opinion; stick to the law and do your part to get those laws changed in the cc’ers favor.
Disclaimer: The above are opinions of the author. In any situation, it is your responsibility to understand the laws in your area, and what you can and cannot legally do. It is also your responsibility to use your best judgement, given the situation that you may find yourself in. In no way should this information be viewed as legal advice. When in doubt, consult a lawyer for any clarification that you may require. Simply put, use your best judgement and always abide by the law.