Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

High Court Is Urged to Uphold Law Banning Guns near Schools

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

High Court Is Urged to Uphold Law Banning Guns near Schools

Article excerpt

Arguing that violence in school harms the national economy, the Federal Government urged the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday to uphold a federal law banning gun possession within 1,000 feet of a school.

"This is not about just regulating guns," Solicitor General Drew S. Days III told the court. "Congress is concerned with this impact on the national economy" and properly enacted the law under its power to regulate interstate commerce, he said. The solicitor general represents the government in proceedings of the Supreme Court.

John R. Carter, the lawyer for a former Texas high school student convicted of taking a gun to school, insisted that Congress failed to spell out a connection between gun possession and interstate commerce when it enacted the 1990 Gun-Free School Zones Act.

Almost any kind of activity can be described as affecting interstate commerce, Carter said. But a law against firing a gun near a school or firebombing a school comes closer than a law simply banning possession of a gun, he said.

Days argued that since gun possession by school pupils would indicate both a potential for violence and declining educational standards, it would affect the willingness of people to travel to or live in the areas where it occurs and that that in turn would have an impact on the national economy.

But Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Antonin Scalia expressed doubts that possessing a gun near a school involves interstate commerce. "Here you have regulation of something that is not commercial activity," Scalia said. "This does not relate to commerce even."

And Justice David Souter, noting that Congress could be concerned that states were offering inadequate education, which would hurt the national economy, asked if Congress could require the federal government to run the public school.

"Is there any violent crime that doesn't affect interstate commerce under your rationale? …

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