Letter Written to Congress by President William J. Clinton Regarding the Addition of aJurisdictional Element to Satisfy US Supreme Court Ruling
To the Congress of the United States:
Today I am transmitting for your immediate consideration and passage the "Gun-Free School ZonesAmendments Act of 1995." This Act will provide the jurisdictional element for the Gun-Free SchoolZones Act of 1990 required by the Supreme Court's recent decision in United States v. Lopez. In a 5-4 decision, the Court in Lopez held that the Congress had exceeded its authority under theCommerce Clause by enacting the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990, codified at 18 U.S.C. 922(q).
The Court found that this Act did not contain the jurisdictional element that would ensure that thefirearms possession in question has the requisite nexus with interstate commerce. In the wake of that decision, I directed Attorney General Reno to present to me an analysis of Lopezand to recommend a legislative solution to the problem identified by that decision. Her legislativerecommendation is presented in this proposal.
The legislative proposal would amend the Gun-Free School Zones Act by adding the requirement thatthe Government prove that the firearm has "moved inor the possession of such firearm otherwiseaffects interstate or foreign commerce."
The addition of this jurisdictional element would limit the Act's "reach to a discrete set of firearmpossessions that additionally have an explicit connection with or effect on interstate commerce," as theCourt stated in Lopez, and thereby bring it within the Congress' Commerce Clause authority.
The Attorney General reported to me that this proposal would have little, if any, impact on the ability ofprosecutors to charge this offense, for the vast majority of firearms have "moved in . . . commerce"before reaching their eventual possessor.
Furthermore, by also including the possibility of proving the offense by showing that the possession ofthe firearm "otherwise affects interstate or foreign commerce," this proposal would leave open thepossibility of showing, under the facts of a particular case, that although the firearm itself may nothave"moved in . . . interstate or foreign commerce," its possession nonetheless has a sufficient nexus tocommerce.
The Attorney General has advised that this proposaldoes not require the Government to prove that adefendant had knowledge that the firearm " has moved in or the possession of such firearm otherwiseaffects interstate or foreign commerce." The defendant must know only that he or she possesses thefirearm.
I am committed to doing everything in my power to make schools places where young people can besecure, where they can learn, and where parents canbe confident that discipline is enforced. I pledge that the Administration will do our part to help make our schools safe and the neighborhoodsaround them safe. We are prepared to work immediately with the Congress to enact this legislation. Iurge the prompt and favorable consideration of thislegislative proposal by the Congress.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON The White House, May 10, 1995.
Please read and submit as a petition to your congressman in your district to make them aware of this law, and it's unconstitutionality.
United States Congress:
Gun Owners of America and other citizens urge you to immediately introduce legislation to repeal Title 18 USC §922(q) “The Federal Gun Free School Zones Act.” As currently enacted, this law makes it impossible for any armed citizen to travel any reasonable distance in any developed area unless they have a CCW permit physically issued by the state in which they are traveling. Although permit holders are exempt in their home states, it is impossible for them to visit any other state in our nation that recognizes their permit. The BATFE has made clear through their letters and actions that they have the will and the ability to arrest permit holders and other citizens legally armed under state law.
In addition to the major problems presented to permit holders of forty-nine states, the Federal Gun Free School Zones Act also endangers those individuals who are allowed to carry a firearm under their state law without a permit. This includes judges, prosecutors, and private citizens in many states. Not even off-duty police officers that qualify under LEOSA are exempt.
Finally, the repeal of this federal law is not about bringing guns on school property. We believe the state legislatures of each state are best suited to address that issue, and nearly all have. To understand this law's true effect, we ask that each of you look at a map of the "gun free zones." You will see that these vast zones overlap in developed areas, making roads and interstate highways impassible by armed citizens, their right to free travel constrained.