As communities become increasingly concerned with school shootings, states and localities are more vigilant than ever to ensure safety in and around educational institutions. Unfortunately, individuals frequently bring weapons onto school property, and the results are sometimes catastrophic. Even if firearms are stored in vehicles by students or teachers for an after-class hunting trip, it will invariably lead to severe consequences.
Guns Brought to Community College Campus
North Carolina's Tarboro Police Department responded to an incident at Edgecombe Community College involving a student "acting erratically" in a campus parking. Upon arrival, law enforcement officers located "rifles, ammunition and 'material that linked the individual to a hate-based group'" in the student's vehicle, according to a report from InsideHigherED.
The student was taken into custody, although officers never established intent. The Edgecombe County judiciary charged the student with possession of a firearm on educational property, remanding the young adult to the county detention center on a $750,000 bond. Reportedly, the student was withdrawn from classes following the incident, but the community college made no formal misconduct claims.
Harsh Consequences for Bringing Guns on School Grounds
While the above incident occurred in North Carolina, states nationwide have stringent laws prohibiting firearms on school grounds. For example, New Jersey law states it's illegal to have any weapon on school property. N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5 asserts that the prohibition of firearms and weapons applies to all educational institutions, from K-12 schools to colleges and universities. Just like the student in the incident mentioned above, those who bring guns on school grounds—students or not—may be arrested and charged with unlawful possession of a weapon.
Even if students plan game hunting before or after class, they cannot keep firearms in their vehicles. Third-degree crime carries a prison term of three to five years. Critically, individuals can be charged even if they have a valid permit to carry a gun or a firearms purchaser identification card. Only written authorization from the institution's governing officer may sign off on a person possessing a firearm on school grounds.
Additionally, possession of a replica or imitation firearm on or around school property, including a school bus, is a disorderly person's offense in New Jersey. The result may lead to six months imprisonment and up to a $1,000 fine.
What Should You Do If You're Alleged to Have Possessed a Firearm On School Grounds?
Not only will New Jersey or its many localities seek heavy penalties on individuals possessing firearms on campus, but the school will add sanctions of its own. Typically, the minimum punishment or students found responsible for such behavior will be expelled for at least one calendar year. Yet, that could seem like nothing compared to the years of jail time someone risks.
Whether you're a student, professor, or passerby possessing a firearm on campus, there could be a myriad of reasons that lack malicious intent. However, law enforcement officials are trained to deal with such behavior forcefully. Luckily, a professional defense attorney can ensure you have the best chance of maintaining a clean criminal record.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team at the Lento Law Firm understand how cases involving individuals possessing guns and firearms on school property can cause educational institutions and localities to overreact. To obtain legal assistance and peace of mind for defense, call 888-535-3686 today or visit the confidential online consultation form.