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The Gun Free School Zones Act Of 1990

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President George H.W. Bush signed the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 into law on November 29, 1990, making it a federal offense for “any individual to knowingly possess a firearm at a place that the individual knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, is a school zone.” Subsequently, in United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549 (1995), the Supreme Court held that the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 was unconstitutional as it violated the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. In reaching this 5-4 Supreme Court decision, Chief Justice Rehnquist, in concurrence with Justices O’Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas wrote the majority opinion, correctly determining that Congress lacked authority to pass this law as, even if replicated throughout schools across the United States, the carrying of a gun to school was not a sufficient economic activity that would substantially affect interstate commerce. Contrarily, Justices Breyer, Stevens, Souter and Ginsberg dissented, opining that the Act’s prohibition against firearms in schools had a sufficient connection with interstate commerce and thus, Congress’ application of the Commerce Clause was appropriate. In finding a substantial connection between gun-related school violence and interstate commerce the minority dissenting opinion relied on evidence that gun-related violence near schools is a commercial problem that interferes with the quality of education and thus relates to economic viability, giving Congress
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