Weapons on School Property: Is It Always Illegal?

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Dec 04, 2022 | 0 Comments

A North Carolina community college student was arrested after three rifles, ammunition, and “material that linked the individual to a hate-based group” were found in his car, according to a statement from the local police department. Police are holding the student at Edgecombe County Detention Center on a $750,000 bond for possession of a firearm on educational property. The college has removed the student from his classes at the college.

Pennsylvania Law on Weapons on School Grounds

Like North Carolina, Pennsylvania also makes it illegal to have a weapon in your possession on the grounds of any elementary or secondary school licensed by the Department of Education. The law applies to a weapon that is on your person, in a locker, or even in the glove compartment of a car.

A person found in violation of this law could face up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. If the person charged is a student, they could also face punishment from the school, such as expulsion, suspension, or removal from clubs and teams.

The law also applies to guns and knives, as well as many other items that might be considered a weapon or an item capable of causing serious bodily injury. This could include any kind of cutting instrument or even nun-chucks. The law only applies to K-12 educational institutions – not to university campuses.

Law-Abiding Versus Malicious Intent

Many states have enacted laws similar to those in Pennsylvania and North Carolina in response to high-profile violence and school shootings. These statutes usually apply even if the person with the gun is a law-abiding citizen with no malicious intent, although some make an exception if the person possesses the weapon for a “lawful purpose.”

“Lawful purpose” could include cases where a student or a parent has a knife or a licensed handgun in their glove compartment when they come to campus, whether for classes or to pick up their child. In Pennsylvania, despite the fact there are many possible situations where someone who poses no threat whatsoever could be arrested, enforcement of the state's weapons on school grounds law has become much more vigorous in recent years.

If You Are Wrongfully Accused

It's possible to be wrongfully accused under the Pennsylvania weapons on school grounds law, or accused on the basis of flimsy evidence. Remember that if police or campus authorities have accused your minor child of possessing a weapon on school property, you as the parent have the right to be with them during questioning.

Joseph D. Lento is an expert Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney and has many years of experience defending firearm, gun, and weapon charges. If you find yourself facing a charge of possessing a weapon on school grounds in Pennsylvania, you should immediately reach out. Call 888-535-3686 or go online to schedule a consultation right away.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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