Court Says Gun-Free School Zones Act Is Unconstitutional

1995

In the landmark decision in United States v. Lopez, for the first time in over 50 years the U.S. Supreme Court limits the powers of Congress under the commerce clause when it strikes down the 1990 Gun-Free School Zones Act. Alfonso Lopez Jr. is caught in his San Antonio high school with a handgun and bullets. He is arrested and accused of violating the federal Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990, which prohibits the possession of guns in school zones. The Court says the Gun-Free School Zones Act, which bars people from knowingly carrying a gun in a school zone, exceeds the power of Congress to legislate under the commerce clause. Possession of a gun in a local school zone is not an economic activity that might, through repetition elsewhere, have a substantial effect on interstate commerce.