By Andrew Ujifusa. Cross posted from Politics K-12.
In a campaign stop in Burlington, Vt., on Thursday, top Republican presidential contender Donald Trump pledged to put an end to gun-free school zones because they only served as a warped temptation for those who would do children harm.
“You know what a gun-free zone is for a sicko? That’s bait,” Trump told the crowd, according to the Associated Press, the same day President Barack Obama was speaking at a town hall event on gun violence.
Obama has recently announced executive actions designed to curb gun violence. As my colleague Evie Blad reported, families of the children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, in Newtown, Conn., and other gun-control advocates applauded Obama’s moves. But Trump was having none of it.
Trump has previously denounced gun-free zones, and has said that armed teachers could help prevent mass shootings.
Trump, who is leading national polls for the GOP presidential nomination, said that he would get rid of gun-free zones for schools on his first day as president. But he can’t do that on his own.
The federal Gun-Free School Zones Act was signed into law by former President George H.W. Bush in 1990 after being introduced by former Sen. Joe Biden, a Democrat, who is now the vice president. The key provision of the law is that it prohibits an individual from knowingly possessing and discharging a firearm on school grounds or within 1,000 feet of school grounds, with certain exceptions.
As a law signed by a president after being passed by Congress, the Gun-Free School Zones Act cannot be undone by executive order.
The leading Democratic presidential candidate was quick to denounce Trump and take Obama’s side:
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) January 8, 2016
In the year after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary, my former colleague Nirvi Shah and I took a look at how state lawmakers responded by analyzing various types of bills designed to improve school safety. Check out the interactive multimedia page to see how those laws fared in 2013; below is a breakdown of the nature of the bills that became law.
Photo: Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump talks during a campaign stop, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, in Keene, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.