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Thread: Is a Compartment a Container for School Restriction?

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    Regarding leaving a hand gun in the car while at a school, the law says it must be unloaded and in a closed container. It does not say it must be locked.

    For the legal purpose of complying with this law, is a compartment of the car, either the center console or the glove box unlocked, considered a container.

    I seem to remember reading somewhere that Virginia courts had declared that a compartment is not a container.

    It would be so much easier to comply with the laws if they made them straight forward, easy to understand and cut out all the novel interpretations.

    (Sorry if this is a repeat. I have discussed related issues before, but this remains an area of grave concern to me.)

    Thanks.

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    You can also carry concealed in the vehicle if you have the permit to conceal, on school grounds (again, only inside the behicle)

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    Yes. Sorry forgot to add that. I do have a permit, and regularly carry concealed ONLY INSIDE the car when I drop off and pick the kids up. My concern is making sure I follow the law when I have to exit the vehicle and leave my gun in the car "Unloaded and in a closed container."

    I at least think (hope) I know what unloaded and closed mean*, barring unexpected (but wise and prudent) interpretations by the judiciary. But at the moment I am concerned over "container". My unlocked center console is certainly a compartment, but does it also qualify as a container?

    I'm not trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill. I just would rather not get convicted with "Felony Mole Hill."

    Thanks again.

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    Regular Member 45acpForMe's Avatar
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    You have to be careful at schools because you are dealing with both State and Federal laws.

    VA Law: The exemptions set out in § 18.2-308 shall apply, mutatis mutandis,to the provisions of this section. The provisions of this section shall not apply to (i) persons who possess such weapon or weapons as a part of the school's curriculum or activities; (ii) a person possessing a knife customarily used for food preparation or service and using it for such purpose; (iii) persons who possess such weapon or weapons as a part of any program sponsored or facilitated by either the school or any organization authorized by the school to conduct its programs either on or off the school premises; (iv) any law-enforcement officer; (v) any person who possesses a knife or blade which he uses customarily in his trade; (vi) a person who possesses an unloaded firearm that is in a closed container, or a knife having a metal blade, in or upon a motor vehicle, or an unloaded shotgun or rifle in a firearms rack in or upon a motor vehicle; or (vii) a person who has a valid concealed handgun permit and possesses a concealed handgun while in a motor vehicle in a parking lot, traffic circle, or other means of vehicular ingress or egress to the school. For the purposes of this paragraph, "weapon" includes a knife having a metal blade of three inches or longer and "closed container" includes a locked vehicle trunk. As used in this section: "Stun weapon" means any device that emits a momentary or pulsed output, which is electrical, audible, optical or electromagnetic in nature and which is designed to temporarily incapacitate a person.

    Federal Gun Free School Zone: 18 USC § 922 Unlawful acts

    (II) in a locked container, or a locked firearms rack that is on a motor vehicle;

    So my glovebox and center console do not have locks (only latches) on them so they could not be considered "locked" containers. Since I drive a Ford Explorer there is not trunk so I bought a $100 mini-safe that I can keep my unloaded firearm in when I visit a school. Remember that the firearm has to be unloaded andinthe locked container BEFORE you come within the 1000 feet of school property GFSZ !!!

    There were some good VA bills that got shot down this year that would have allowed a CHP to get out of the car in the parking lot as well as in the building after hours. :-(

    Some people have told me that the Federal GFSZ isn't enforced and possibly unconstitutional but I don't want to be the first one to challenge it in court. With the GFSZ you are a felon if you come within 1000 feet of school property with a loaded gun unless you have a concealed handgun permit AND it is concealed. Now count how many schools you drive by to get to anything!!! :-)

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    The gun free school zones act was passed and declared unconstitutional by SCOTUS. Then, Congress re-passed a nearly identical law.

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    Once HB 885 and/or SB 408 become law (July 1, 2010), it will also be legal to keep a loaded or unloaded handgun in a locked container or compartment in a vehicle anywhere, including on school property, since Va. Code § 18.2-308.1 incorporates by reference the exemptions stated in Va. Code § 18.2-308.

    However, due to the convoluted construction of the exemptions in Va. Code § 18.2-308.1, it appears to me that anyone wishing to utilize this new exemption may need to have the handgun in the locked container or compartment before entering school property.
    James M. "Jim" Mullins, Jr., Esq.
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    Founder, Past President, Treasurer, and General Counsel, West Virginia Citizens Defense League, Inc.
    Life Member, NRA

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    45acpForMe wrote:
    With the GFSZ you are a felon if you come within 1000 feet of school property with a loaded gun unless you have a concealed handgun permit AND it is concealed.
    Whoa, nellie. Don't think that's true at all - please cite to code that requires teh concealment, if you can find any.

    Further, the exception at 922(q)(2)(B)(ii) "if the individual possessing the firearm is licensed to do so by the State in which the school zone is located or a political subdivision of the State, and the law of the State or political subdivision requires that, before an individual obtains such a license, the law enforcement authorities of the State or political subdivision verify that the individual is qualified under law to receive the license" would possibly to apply to the gun even if the possessor steps out of the car.


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    WVCDL wrote:
    Once HB 885 and/or SB 408 become law (July 1, 2010), it will also be legal to keep a loaded or unloaded handgun in a locked container or compartment in a vehicle anywhere, including on school property, since Va. Code § 18.2-308.1 incorporates by reference the exemptions stated in Va. Code § 18.2-308.

    However, due to the convoluted construction of the exemptions in Va. Code § 18.2-308.1, it appears to me that anyone wishing to utilize this new exemption may need to have the handgun in the locked container or compartment before entering school property.
    I hope you are right that the loaded/locked container will apply to school parking areas. It would make things much safer. I have not read the bills, but I had been concerned that it would apply everywhere but schools.

    Also if you are able to unholster and store in a locked container/compartment while maintaining concealment would it still be necessary to do off school property. I am thinking of the situation where the need to exit is unanticipated and you are already on school grounds. Kids falling, getting hurt, etc.

    Part of my concern is that as the new law specifies container or compartment is that because a previous court had ruled that compartments are not containers?

    Thanks for all the help, though I'm still not sure about the current status of glove boxes and center consoles.

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    Regular Member 45acpForMe's Avatar
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    Mike wrote:
    45acpForMe wrote:
    With the GFSZ you are a felon if you come within 1000 feet of school property with a loaded gun unless you have a concealed handgun permit AND it is concealed.
    Whoa, nellie. Don't think that's true at all - please cite to code that requires teh concealment, if you can find any.

    Further, the exception at 922(q)(2)(B)(ii) "if the individual possessing the firearm is licensed to do so by the State in which the school zone is located or a political subdivision of the State, and the law of the State or political subdivision requires that, before an individual obtains such a license, the law enforcement authorities of the State or political subdivision verify that the individual is qualified under law to receive the license" would possibly to apply to the gun even if the possessor steps out of the car.
    I obviously am not a lawyer but here is my thinking. Maybe you can read it differently. The CHP exemption (state law) says it needs to be concealed.


    (vii) a person who has a valid concealed handgun permit and possesses a concealed handgun while in a motor vehicle in a parking lot, traffic circle, or other means of vehicular ingress or egress to the school.


    The federal GFSZ says:

    Section 2A) says you can't have a firearm in a school zone,

    Section 2B)lays out exceptions which section ii CHP's comply with

    Subsection iii in the next paragraph says that it has to be unloaded in a locked container and I am reading that as applying to anyone not carrying a CHP or meeting one of the other exemptions.

    So in my non-lawyerly opinion, anyone without a CHP better unload and lock up their gun while driving within 1000 feet of school property or choose to be a felon. Private property is exempt but the city street isn't.

    Am I reading it wrong?

    GFSZ states


    (2)(A) It shall be unlawful for any individual knowingly to possess a firearm
    [/font][/font]
    that has moved in or that otherwise affects interstate or foreign commerce at a place that the individual knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, is a school zone.

    (B) Subparagraph (A) does not apply to the possession of a firearm—

    (i) on private property not part of school grounds;

    (ii) if the individual possessing the firearm is licensed to do so by the State in which the school zone is located or a political subdivision of the State, and the law of the State or political subdivision requires that, before an individual obtainssuch a license, the law enforcement authorities of the State or political subdivision verify that the individual is qualified under law to receive the license;

    (iii) that is—

    (I) not loaded; and

    (II) in a locked container, or a locked firearms rackthatis on a motor vehicle;


    the rest of the exemptions listed here:

    (iv) by an individual for use in a program approved by a school in the school zone;

    (v) by an individual in accordance with a contract entered into between a school in the school zone and the individual or an employer of the individual;

    (vi) by a law enforcement officer acting in his or her official capacity; or

    (vii) that is unloaded and is possessed by an individual while traversing school premises for the purpose of gaining access to public or private lands open to hunting, if the entry on school premises is authorized by school authorities.
    [/font][/font]

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    If I recall correctly, and talking off the top of the head, here, the federal statute specifically states that a glovebox and a center console are NOT "containers" for the purposes of that statute. Interesting that a compartment in the driver's door is not on the list. BUT that statute does not apply at all if one have a CHP, in which case only Virginia law applies (i.e., no thousand-foot limit, etc.), and Virginia law only requires that the gun be unloaded and in a closed (but not necessarily locked) container.

    Here's the kicker: if you don't have a CHP, then putting a gun in a center console is "carrying a concealed weapon" in Virginia, and if you're within a thousand feet of the perimeter of the property that a school's located on, then that's a felony under the federal statute.

    One thing that really bugs me about these statutes is the failure to distinguish between a "school", which is an organization of human beings, and the property on which the school functions, which we used to call the "school-house". Stupid legislation creates all sorts of problems for compliance as well as enforcement.
    Daniel L. Hawes - 540 347 2430 - HTTP://www.VirginiaLegalDefense.com

    By the way, nothing I say on this website as "user" should be taken as either advertising for attorney services or legal advice, merely personal opinion. Everyone having a question regarding the application of law to the facts of their situation should seek the advice of an attorney competent in the subject matter of the issues presented and licensed to practice in the relevant state.

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    user wrote:
    If I recall correctly, and talking off the top of the head, here, the federal statute specifically states that a glovebox and a center console are NOT "containers" for the purposes of that statute. Interesting that a compartment in the driver's door is not on the list. BUT that statute does not apply at all if one have a CHP, in which case only Virginia law applies (i.e., no thousand-foot limit, etc.), and Virginia law only requires that the gun be unloaded and in a closed (but not necessarily locked) container.

    Here's the kicker: if you don't have a CHP, then putting a gun in a center console is "carrying a concealed weapon" in Virginia, and if you're within a thousand feet of the perimeter of the property that a school's located on, then that's a felony under the federal statute.

    One thing that really bugs me about these statutes is the failure to distinguish between a "school", which is an organization of human beings, and the property on which the school functions, which we used to call the "school-house". Stupid legislation creates all sorts of problems for compliance as well as enforcement.
    Thanks user for chiming in. Yes that is the way I was reading it so the moral of the story is it pays to get your CHP to cover your butt. As I have said to people at our dinners, most gun owners have broken some law sometime out of ignorance and it goes to show the insanity of having 20,000 gun laws on the books nationwide.

    Many people think the GFSZ is unconstitutional and won't be enforced and that they really don't want to prosecute someone with it because it then may be overturned. Again I don't want to be the test-case for its constitutionality.

    Others believe that GFSZ it is more of an add-on crime than something that you would be primarily charged with. For example if you got pulled over for a speeding ticket while you were in a school zone, didn't have your CHP and were OC-ing the gun the officer probably wouldn't cart you off to jail. On the other hand if you were performing some more serious crime (drugs, homicide, etc) and they caught you they would tack the GFSZ felony on top of your other crimes (maybe as a bargaining chip).

    Others have told me that since it is a Federal GFSZ that a federal law enforcement person would have to be the one to charge you and most local state police wouldn't.

    Either way we don't get a free pass and are held responsible to be within the letter of the law no matter how crazy it is.



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    45acpForMe wrote:
    Mike wrote:
    45acpForMe wrote:
    With the GFSZ you are a felon if you come within 1000 feet of school property with a loaded gun unless you have a concealed handgun permit AND it is concealed.
    Whoa, nellie. Don't think that's true at all - please cite to code that requires teh concealment, if you can find any.

    Further, the exception at 922(q)(2)(B)(ii) "if the individual possessing the firearm is licensed to do so by the State in which the school zone is located or a political subdivision of the State, and the law of the State or political subdivision requires that, before an individual obtains such a license, the law enforcement authorities of the State or political subdivision verify that the individual is qualified under law to receive the license" would possibly to apply to the gun even if the possessor steps out of the car.
    I obviously am not a lawyer but here is my thinking. Maybe you can read it differently. The CHP exemption (state law) says it needs to be concealed.



    (vii) a person who has a valid concealed handgun permit and possesses a concealed handgun while in a motor vehicle in a parking lot, traffic circle, or other means of vehicular ingress or egress to the school.

    So as far as concealment (with user's input). If you have a CHP the GFSZ 1000 feet is void so you could OC outside school property. But according to State law while you are "on" school property it has to be concealed (within your car).

    If you don't have a CHP then it better be unloaded and stored in a locked container anytime you are within 1000 feet of school property, minus the exemptions listed before.

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    45acpForMe wrote:
    ...Others have told me that since it is a Federal GFSZ that a federal law enforcement person would have to be the one to charge you and most local state police wouldn't....

    Negative. Under the U.S. Constitution, there are no federal "law enforcement officers"; all law enforcement is local enforcement. That was one of the original "checks and balances" that was supposed to constrict the unwarranted exerciser of power by the United States. That's changed very recently (within my lifetime) but not lawfully. Under the Constitution, any armed personworking for the U.S. is part of the military. But we all know that it's power, and not the Constitution, that supports the United States.

    But the real point is that any "real" law enforcement officer, i.e., one acting on behalf of the Commonwealth, can arrest for violation of federal law, and any circuit court in Virginia can prosecute that case.

    That reminds meof a pet peeve, how the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, which is only legally able to ensure that the "uniform system of immigration" authorized by Congress be implemented; i.e., to recognize immigrants as eligible for citizenship, is now in the opposite position of actually interfering with "real" law enforcement's efforts to stem the tide of the invasion of colonists from the South. And what's funny about it is that they claim that only they have the authority to enforce the laws of the United States. But that's a different thread.

    Daniel L. Hawes - 540 347 2430 - HTTP://www.VirginiaLegalDefense.com

    By the way, nothing I say on this website as "user" should be taken as either advertising for attorney services or legal advice, merely personal opinion. Everyone having a question regarding the application of law to the facts of their situation should seek the advice of an attorney competent in the subject matter of the issues presented and licensed to practice in the relevant state.

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    Regular Member 45acpForMe's Avatar
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    Ok so based on what I have seen and the OP question:

    1) without CHP outside 1000 ft the gun has to be unloaded and in a locked container before entering school zone. Federal GFSZ applies so center console glovebox are not considered acceptable.

    2) with a CHP and you are in the car, GFSZ doesn't apply and it can be concealed on your person, in a center console or glove box loaded.

    3) with a CHP and you get out of the car, the "while in the car" part of the State exemption goes away and you fall back to "unloaded and in a closed container" so center console and glovebox would be ok as long as it is unloaded.

    So my recommendation would be to not conceal it on your person but before entering school property place/conceal it in your center console. If you have to get out of your car you would have to unload it so you might consider doing this before arriving. According to user the federal statute doesn't recognize those compartments but State statutes probably would.

    Does that summarize it accurately?

    My only concern is that since the State law explicitly states that a trunk (or locked gun rack) is a valid container, does that imply that center consoles and gloveboxes aren't?

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    user wrote:
    If I recall correctly, and talking off the top of the head, here, the federal statute specifically states that a glovebox and a center console are NOT "containers" for the purposes of that statute.
    Well, i quote the exemption above and see no disallowance for gove boxes - maybe you are conflating FOPA exclusions from safe harbor?

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    You're right - I shoulda checked. That language is in 18 USC Sec. 926A , the Firearm Owners' Protection Act amendment to the Gun Control Act component of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968. Say that three times, fast.


    Daniel L. Hawes - 540 347 2430 - HTTP://www.VirginiaLegalDefense.com

    By the way, nothing I say on this website as "user" should be taken as either advertising for attorney services or legal advice, merely personal opinion. Everyone having a question regarding the application of law to the facts of their situation should seek the advice of an attorney competent in the subject matter of the issues presented and licensed to practice in the relevant state.

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