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View Full Version : Finding Gun Free School Zones


IrishPirate
01-12-2010, 3:20 PM
I searched but couldn't find anything that showed good maps of schools with 1000' radius circles indicating GFSZ's surrounding them. Many sites are missing schools in cities or have them not placed in the right area. So in the interest of helping everyone find out approximately where the 1000' "cut-off zone" is, I decided to make a small (hopefully helpful) tutorial on figuring out where the GFSZ's in your area might be.

First, you need to download Google Earth (http://earth.google.com/intl/en/thanks.html) if you don't have it already. You don't need to go with the pro version to do this, though the pro version does have more tools that might make it a little easier. (i don't have pro so the rest will be about the standard FREE version)

Once you've got Google Earth downloaded and installed on your computer, open up the program and type an address near the area you want to look for GFSZ's in into the "Fly To" area in the upper left portion of your screen and hit enter. You'll be taken to the area you type in so make sure you're as specific as possible. Now, locate the layers tab in the lower left portion of the screen.

In order to make your search for GFSZ's as easy as possible you'll want to disable all the other stuff that will pop up on the screen (which can potentially be enough to completely obscure the area you're looking at). To do this you need to make sure there are NO boxes checked. Some boxes will have blue squares in them instead of checkmarks. This means that there are sub-categories in that listing that are checked. You need to click the little + sign next to the box and the sub-categories will be listed underneath.

Once you've made sure that there are no boxes checked you need to go to the "Places of Interest" category and open up the sub-categories. There you'll find a box to check to display schools. Make sure you click only that box and that there is now a checkmark in the box.

All the schools that are visible on your screen should now be marked with a small, orange schoolhouse. This lets you know where all the schools in your area are actually located but it doesn't give you a map of the school. You'll have to use your best judgement to see where the edge of the school property is....when in doubt, go a little further.

Now to determine if your projected route of travel will take you through a GFSZ you'll need to know the names of the roads. Go back to the layers tab and check the box marked Roads.

You should now be able to see the Schools and road names of the area on your screen. So, to be able to find out how far away 1000 feet is (distance of GFSZ) you simply go to the top left area of your computer screen and click on the Tools button. A little drop down menu will appear with a tab called Ruler, click that one.

A seperate box should now be on the screen with tabs for line and path functions. Make sure you're using the line function. It should have the words length and heading, and a small box next to length that has a drop down menu to select your measurement preference. In that menu, select the feet option. Make sure you do not close the Ruler box!!!

Your mouse curser should be square crosshairs now. Now, find the edge of the school property in question and click the mouse anywhere on that edge (don't hold the mouse button down, just click once). A small dot will appear where you just clicked. Now, move the mouse whatever direction you're route of travel by the school will be. Keep and Eye on the Length section of the Ruler box and it will start ticking off the feet your line is creating. Once you get to 1000 feet (or however far you want to measure) you can click the mouse again to lay the line on your map. If it crosses your route of travel, you'll be going through a GFSZ, if not, you SHOULD be ok (this is where you need to be certain about where that first click was and make sure it actually was on the edge of the school property, if not your distance will not accurately reflect the true and legal GFSZ measurements)

Since most schools are not perfect circles and not all streets follow straight lines, you'll need to do this line measurement over several points around the edge of the school property to ensure you know where the GFSZ actually is.

In the Google Earth Pro version you can create circles and measure their radius which would be helpful.......but I'm not sure it's worth the $400 they want for the program.

To be clear, this method depends on your correct placement of the cursor on the edge of the school property to be as accurate as possible and even still, measurements may be off slightly. I do not work for Google in any way and I'm not trying to endorse their product. I'm simply telling you how I use their measurement tool to gain an idea of where GFSZ's are and try to avoid traveling through them while transporting firearms, if possible. Nothing I've said should be taken as a fool proof way to avoid GFSZ's or as a defense should you be arrested and prosecuted for carrying a firearm in a GFSZ. You're actions are your own.

Hope you can find this tutorial useful :chris:

EDIT: Forgot to say that it's always best to keep your firearms in a locked container when transporting them, but if that's not possible for whatever reason, this is a tool that can help you avoid GFSZ's and the hassels that bringing a firearm into them could cause.

wildhawker
01-12-2010, 3:39 PM
Why not simply avoid the risk and lock in a container/gun rack as appropriate?

Sorry if "should be ok" doesn't inspire confidence.

IrishPirate
01-12-2010, 3:49 PM
Why not simply avoid the risk and lock in a container/gun rack as appropriate?

Sorry if "should be ok" doesn't inspire confidence.

You're absolutely right, that was a disclaimer. This is just a reference to where GFSZ's might be. You should definitely lock your guns up when transporting them. However, if you're like me and you bought a house in the middle of two schools and want to see how far that GFSZ extends, this is helpful. Or if you're traveling to a new range, freinds house, competition, etc. with long guns and you don't know if you will pass through GFSZ's, this is helpful (i know i don't have enough locking containers to take all my rifles to the range in a lock box). It's just a tool. guess you decided not to read past the "should be ok" part.

Librarian
01-12-2010, 4:51 PM
Actually, should NOT be OK.

Since the school authorities and LEO in those localities have chosen not to mark those zones on the ground, anything short of a professional survey applied to the observed shape of the property is going to be inaccurate.

And Google Earth doesn't have all the schools. The law does not say 'public' schools, and there are many private schools that Google ignores or simply does not know about.

rp55
01-12-2010, 5:07 PM
There was a Google app where you could call up a map and the GFSZs would show up in red. For the life of me I cannot find it now, but that's how I found out that I live in one. I had forgotten about a public school that had been closed. I went by to see what was up with it and saw they had leased it to a Christian Academy and it was open and being used as a school. I was right on the inside edge of the zone. May have saved me some grief.

yelohamr
01-12-2010, 5:24 PM
Check with Sunnyvale DPS, they seem to have a program that will show the boundaries of schools. At least that's what they intend to use to snag UOCers who don't know the boundaries.

Librarian
01-12-2010, 5:33 PM
There was a Google app where you could call up a map and the GFSZs would show up in red. For the life of me I cannot find it now, but that's how I found out that I live in one. I had forgotten about a public school that had been closed. I went by to see what was up with it and saw they had leased it to a Christian Academy and it was open and being used as a school. I was right on the inside edge of the zone. May have saved me some grief.

I did a static map some time ago; for example, here's a version showing some of the school zones in LA.

http://i275.photobucket.com/albums/jj284/Librarian_bucket/LA1000ftschool.jpg

Round is the wrong shape, of course, and I'm sure it misses some schools.

IrishPirate
01-12-2010, 5:33 PM
Actually, should NOT be OK.

Since the school authorities and LEO in those localities have chosen not to mark those zones on the ground, anything short of a professional survey applied to the observed shape of the property is going to be inaccurate.

And Google Earth doesn't have all the schools. The law does not say 'public' schools, and there are many private schools that Google ignores or simply does not know about.

You guys are missing the point...

This isn't an end all way to find out if you did or didn't break the law by bringing a firearm into a GFSZ, it's a way to find out if you're going to pass through any so that you can be prepared and take an alternate route. It's just a tool to help keep you safe. Personally, I wouldn't take a road that was within 2000' of a school, just to be safe.

Like I said at the bottom, it's up to you to make sure you do the right thing and follow the law. This is just one tool that will help you do that. I also said it's not perfect and you'll need to make sure you realize that before you go pushing the envelope and getting within 1001' of a GFSZ.

You're right, not all the schools are probably there, but there are still more than most other sites i've checked, and those sites don't give you a way to measure out the distances. However, the law says you have to reasonably know that you were in a GFSZ to be guilty and if there are no markings and if you can't find it online because no one knows about it, you're not guilty of any crime.

If you've got a much better way to do this, by all means post it. Otherwise, take it for what it's worth to you and leave it at that. Personally I'd trust this method over some map that someone else made since I'm the one actually determining where I'm measuring and not taking someone elses word for it. And if you want to bankroll surveyors to make us a map, more power to you. For now i'll use the free service and be extra cautious about my actions.....like the OP says eveyone should be.

Cato
01-12-2010, 5:33 PM
Why not simply avoid the risk and lock in a container/gun rack as appropriate?

Sorry if "should be ok" doesn't inspire confidence.

Yeah, I've always wondered if I'm missing something when this topic comes up. Do these people know that a locked container is all they need or are they trying to open carry all over the place?

IrishPirate
01-12-2010, 5:39 PM
Yeah, I've always wondered if I'm missing something when this topic comes up. Do these people know that a locked container is all they need or are they trying to open carry all over the place?

not all of us have cars with trunks or a locking container for every single one of our guns. People moving into a new area aren't always aware of GFSZ's either and might want to know eactly how far they're going to be from a school.

Librarian
01-12-2010, 6:17 PM
You guys are missing the point...

If you've got a much better way to do this, by all means post it.

Not missing the point at all - there is no good way to accomplish the goal of helping others reliably avoid school zones.

That's a failure on the part of the legislature, and a pretty good indication they were unserious when passing the law. OTOH, it's plenty serious if one is arrested for that violation. Theseus' unfortunate case shows just how much one can rely on 'knows, or reasonably should know,' as a defense.

obeygiant
01-12-2010, 7:04 PM
You guys are missing the point...

This isn't an end all way to find out if you did or didn't break the law by bringing a firearm into a GFSZ, it's a way to find out if you're going to pass through any so that you can be prepared and take an alternate route. It's just a tool to help keep you safe. Personally, I wouldn't take a road that was within 2000' of a school, just to be safe.

Like I said at the bottom, it's up to you to make sure you do the right thing and follow the law. This is just one tool that will help you do that. I also said it's not perfect and you'll need to make sure you realize that before you go pushing the envelope and getting within 1001' of a GFSZ.

You're right, not all the schools are probably there, but there are still more than most other sites i've checked, and those sites don't give you a way to measure out the distances. However, the law says you have to reasonably know that you were in a GFSZ to be guilty and if there are no markings and if you can't find it online because no one knows about it, you're not guilty of any crime.

If you've got a much better way to do this, by all means post it. Otherwise, take it for what it's worth to you and leave it at that. Personally I'd trust this method over some map that someone else made since I'm the one actually determining where I'm measuring and not taking someone else's word for it. And if you want to bankroll surveyors to make us a map, more power to you. For now i'll use the free service and be extra cautious about my actions.....like the OP says everyone should be.

Irish,

This has been attempted on a number of occasions, one of which was my attempt. The short answer is that , as stated earlier, without the exact property boundaries for each school and any adjacent properties that are under their care it would be near impossible to provide any sort of realistic map.

I know this because I attempted to do it and was successful in getting all of the CA public,private and charter schools onto Google earth but the problem then became one of trying to determine the exact boundaries of the property. I also contacted my brother in law who is the superintendent of all construction and facilities for a school district near me to see if they had any sort of map which defined all of the property and its boundaries that are owned by the district. He did some digging and was unable to find anything of that sort.

Librarian and Wildhawker both made excellent points that anything short of a professional survey and a map that indicates the exact boundaries would be insufficient as any sort of defense.

I too would very much like to provide a resource such as this to all CGN members but without a way to address the above concerns it is just not possible at this time.

IW378
01-12-2010, 7:26 PM
If this is law then why isn't there any signs posted as to the boundrys. I live close to a middle school but have never broke out the tape measure to see exactly how close. I will bring this up at the next city council meeting just for the fun of it.
Luke

IrishPirate
01-12-2010, 7:49 PM
True, but don't you agree it's best to have some sort of idea about where you're going rather than running blind? Some help is better than no help, which is what this is....some help. If you need to get around GFSZ's, at least this way you wont be guessing as much as if you just get in your car and blindly hit the streets. I'm not saying that when the ticker hit's 1000' you're 100% good with no worries, but at least it'll give you an idea about how close you probably are, and if you're willing to take the risk....that's your issue. If not, you can find another way that will help you avoid any problems. You're right, it's not easy to find exactly where the school boundry is, but all this is meant to do is help, not fix the problem entirely. Just one more tool to help keep you safe should you need it.