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U.S. vs.

Lopez
Jenny Geiselman and Shelly Schantz
Oakland University
EA 742
July 25, 2017
Imagine This...

An 18 year old senior at the high school, which you work enters the building with a
loaded concealed weapon, .38 caliber revolver to be exact.

You find out about it. The year was 1992.

What do you do?


This exact
scenario did The administration at Alfonso Lopez’s high school
involved local law enforcement as many of you may
happen in have done.
San Lopez was arrested for violating Texas Law banning
Antonio, firearms in schools.

Texas The next day State charges were dismissed and he


was charged with violating the federal Gun-Free
School Zones Act of 1990.
Lopez claimed the charge against him
was unconstitutional...

Lopez claimed that the Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1990 was beyond the reach
of Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause. Therefore, appealing to the
Fifth Circuit Court. They agreed and overturned his conviction.

The Government still held that it was constitutional for Congress to have passed
the Gun-Free Schools Zone Act of 1990. They filed the case with the US Supreme
Court.
Issue….
Did Congress overstep their power when
creating the Gun-Free School Zones Act of
1990?
Rule of Law

Congress has the authority to regulate activities that directly


and substantially affect interstate commerce.

Gun possession was not shown to be related to interstate


commerce (economic activity) and therefore, beyond the
authority of Congress.
Analysis- Majority Opinion
Because guns on school property do not involve interstate commerce,
affect economic activity, congress did overstep their power when
creating the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990.

The majority focused on the fact that mere possession of a gun was
not directly related to a significant effect and that the loose definition
being used by the government would lead to an increasingly blurry line
between State and Federal control.
Analysis- Dissenting Opinions
The dissent argued that the Commerce Clause allowed the power to regulate
local activity as long as it “significantly affects” the interstate commerce.

They went on to argue that congress could find the effect of gun violence
“substantial” because not only would it impair learning, and ultimately if
learning is impaired it could hurt the economy and job market. It would also
cost more in insurance cost of crimes.

They also thought that this regulation was not much different than regulating
asbestos or alcohol in schools.
Conclusion….
It was decided 5 to 4 that
congress did overstep their
power when creating the
Gun-Free Zones Act of
1990.
It was the first time in over 50 years
that congress was found to have
overstepped their power under the
Commerce Clause.

Why was this The Gun-Free School Zones Act of


1990 was rewritten to include the
case significant? interstate commerce hook that other
federal gun laws contain- that the
gun in question has to have moved
in interstate commerce at some
point in its existence.