Schools are where the children of tomorrow are being molded and prepared for the future. Because of its importance, the state aims to protect it at all costs and keep it free from any harm. Danger can come in many shapes and sizes. One of the most common forms that it can take is a gun. Guns, on the wrong hands, are as deadly as they are handy. There has been a significantly huge amount of gun-related violence like mass shootings done in a school zone. These incidents might not be as rampant as some other crimes; however, the fact that there are instances like those are alarming. To prevent these from happening, the state of California enacted the Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1995.
California PC 626.9
Also known as the Gun-Free School Zone act of 1995, PC 626.9 is the statute that criminalizes the act of possessing any form of firearm in a place that he/she knows, or should know, is a designated school zone.
For the purpose of clarity, the following are defined by PC 626.9 as:
- “Firearm” refers to any device designed to be used as a weapon, from which is expelled through a barrel, a projectile by the force of an explosion or other form of combustion. It also includes a rocket, rocket-propelled projectile launcher, or similar device containing explosive or incendiary material, whether or not the device is designed for emergency or distress signaling purposes. However, “firearm” in this provision does not include an unloaded antique firearm.
- “School zone” refers to an area in, or on the grounds of, a public or private school providing instruction in kindergarten or grades 1 to 12, inclusive, or within a distance of 1,000 feet from the grounds of the public or private school.
However, under subdivision c of PC 626.9, there are some exemptions to this law. The conditions for these are:
- When the firearm is within a place of residence or place of business or on private property, if the place of residence, place of business, or private property is not part of the school grounds and the possession of the firearm is otherwise lawful.
- When the firearm is an unloaded pistol, revolver, or another firearm capable of being concealed on the person and is in a locked container or within the locked trunk of a motor vehicle.
- When the person possessing the firearm reasonably believes that he or she is in grave danger because of circumstances forming the basis of a current restraining order issued by a court against another person or persons who has or have been found to pose a threat to his or her life or safety.
- When the person is exempt from the prohibition against carrying a concealed firearm pursuant to California Penal Code sections 25615, 25625, 25630, or 25645.
- When the person holds a valid license to carry the firearm pursuant to California Penal Code PC 26150, who is carrying that firearm in an area that is not in, or on the grounds of, a public or private school providing instruction in kindergarten or grades 1 to 12, inclusive, but within a distance of 1,000 feet from the grounds of the public or private school.
This section does not prohibit or limit the otherwise lawful transportation of any other firearm, other than a pistol, revolver, or another firearm capable of being concealed on the person, in accordance with state law.
Penalties for Violating PC 626.9
A person who violates PC 626.9 by possessing a firearm in, or on the grounds of, a public or private school providing instruction in kindergarten or grades 1 to 12, be charged with a felony punishable by a term of imprisonment in a county jail for 16 months, or two or three years.
Being wrongfully accused of violating PC 626.9 is a serious allegation. It can lead to a lengthy jail time due to the intensity of the crime. That is why when you or anyone you know is facing any legal conflicts regarding the Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1995, it would be the concerned party’s best interest to consult with our top-notch California defense lawyers. They have the credentials and experience to make sure that the law serves its intended purpose.