OLR AMENDED BILL ANALYSIS

HB 6003 (as amended by House "A" and "C")*

AN ACT CONCERNING POSSESSION OF WEAPONS IN SCHOOLS

SUMMARY:  The bill  makes  it  a  criminal  offense  to
possess a firearm  on  school  grounds,  unless exempt.
Violation is a  class  D  felony.  (A class D felony is
punishable by one to five years imprisonment, a fine of
up  to $5,000,  or  both.)  But  if  the  violation  is
committed by anyone  under  age  16,  it  is  a serious
juvenile offense.

The bill increases  the  drug  free  zone around school
grounds from 1,000  to  1,500 feet. The bill applies to
public and private elementary and secondary schools.

*House Amendment "A"  substitutes  a class D felony for
the original bill's  mandatory  two-year  prison  term;
limits application of the prohibition to school grounds
instead of within 1,500 of school property; applies the
prohibition to possessing  any  firearm instead of only
handguns,  machine  guns,   and   sawed-off   shotguns;
specifies and expands the exemptions beyond just people
with a legal  right  to possess firearms under state or
federal law; makes  violation  by  a  child  a  serious
juvenile offense; changes  the effective date from July
1, 1992 to  October  1,  1992;  and  removes a specific
provision requiring illegally  possessed  weapons to be
confiscated immediately by a "lawful" authority.

*House  Amendment "C"  increases  the  drug  free  zone
around schools from 1,000 feet to 1,500 feet.

EFFECTIVE DATE:  October 1, 1992

FURTHER EXPLANATION

Exemptions

The bill exempts  the  following  from  the prohibition
against firearms on school grounds:

    1.   the  holder of  a  valid  permit  to  carry  a
         firearm;

    2.   anyone who uses  the  firearm  on  the  school
         property as part  of a program approved by the
         school;

    3.   a person with  whom,  or  with whose employer,
         the school has  an  agreement  that allows the
         firearms;

    4.   a peace officer in his official capacity; and

    5.   a person with  an  unloaded  firearm  crossing
         school property for  hunting  or  other lawful
         purposes,  provided  entry   to   the   school
         property is not prohibited.

Drug Free School Zone

Current law imposes  an additional penalty when someone
who  is  not  an  enrolled  student  possesses  certain
illegal drugs within  1,000  feet  of school grounds or
uses,  distributes,  possesses,  or  manufactures  drug
paraphernalia within such distance from the school. The
bill increases the distance to 1,500 feet.

BACKGROUND

The Federal Gun Free School Zones Act

The Gun-Free School  Zones  Act  (18  USC  Sec.922 (q))
prohibits the possession  or  discharge of a firearm on
or within 1,000  feet  of private, parochial, or public
school grounds. Violation is punishable by imprisonment
for up to  five years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
Imprisonment  is  in   addition   to   and   must   run
consecutively to any other jail term.

The  act exempts  the  following,  among  others,  from
prosecution:  people  who   possess  firearms  properly
stored (unloaded and  locked  in  gun  racks)  in motor
vehicles or on  private  property  that  is not part of
school grounds and  law  enforcement officers acting in
their official capacities.  The act also exempts people
who use the firearms in school-approved programs.

The  act  states   that   federal,   state,  and  local
authorities  should  encourage  the  posting  of  signs
around school zones  warning that firearm possession in
a school zone is prohibited.

Serious Juvenile Offenses

The statutes define  a "serious juvenile offense" (SJO)
as one of  a  list  of  specific criminal acts, most of
which to a  certain  degree  involve violence or drugs.
Crimes that are  SJOs  include murder, the more serious
degrees  of assault  and  sexual  assault,  kidnapping,
arson, larceny, and  various weapons charges. Juveniles
charged  with  SJOs   are   subject  to  more  rigorous
procedures and consequences  in  the  criminal  justice
system  than  those  accused  of  other  offenses.  For
example, when a detention center is at or above maximum
population capacity, a juvenile charged with a SJO will
be admitted and  held  and  one  charged with a regular
offense will be released.