Right to Bear Gun-Shaped Pop-Tarts Law Drafted

Readers — There’s hope! In a way, all the ridiculous Zero Tolerance incidents of the past few weeks — the kids suspended for the Hello Kitty bubble gun, and the Lego gun, and the imaginary grenade throw in a game of imaginary save-the-world, and last but not least the terrifying pastry gun — have given impetus to a bill proposed by Maryland State Senator  J.B. Jennings (R). His “Reasonable School Discipline Act of 2013” would de-criminalize kids who are playing and happen to make or mention a play gun. The proposed law begins:

FOR the purpose of prohibiting a principal from suspending or expelling a student  who brings to school or possesses on school property a picture of a gun, a computer image of a gun, a facsimile of a gun, or any other object that resembles a gun but serves another purpose; prohibiting a principal from suspending or expelling a student who makes a hand shape or gesture resembling a gun…

Any kid who actually threatens a kid — that’s another story. Discipline awaits. But under this lovely law, play, like giant otters and bald eagles, would receive government protection.

Which is a good thing because it sure seems endangered. – L.

Some great American traditions need to be protected.

29 Responses to Right to Bear Gun-Shaped Pop-Tarts Law Drafted

  1. Donald March 12, 2013 at 12:30 am #

    Common sense needs to become law. Theater security is implemented because a lot battle in the courtroom IS theater. For example, in a custody battle, a strategy is to sms your child several times a day. That way you have phone records for proof that you hover. This gives your case a better chance.

    Unless this loophole is stopped, schools will continue suspend children if they eat their pop tart into the shape of a gun. This has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with defending a lawsuit. If this harms the safety of children by damaging communities, injecting kids full of fear, or driving them harder to rebel, then so be it. The defense of a possible lawsuit takes priority over all. This even includes human rights.

  2. Stacey March 12, 2013 at 12:59 am #

    GOOD! Lenore, I think you’ve made a difference. If we didn’t have people like you drawing our attention to the idocy that is zero tolerance and the like, there wouldn’t be anyone doing anything to stop the madness.

    It is very sad though that there is a need for this. What are future historians going to think when they realise there was a need for this law? That people seriously felt threatened by gun-shaped food? or maybe they’ll look at it positively and think how nice it is that there are so few genuine threats that we focus on tiny things and treat them like threats.

  3. mollie March 12, 2013 at 1:29 am #

    “… how nice it is that there are so few genuine threats that we focus on tiny things and treat them like threats.”

    Indeed, Stacey. “Nice” doesn’t even begin to cover it. It’s unprecedented, it’s decadently luxurious, and instead of gratitude, we have hysteria.

  4. Per March 12, 2013 at 5:44 am #

    This law may sound like it makes sense, but it does not. In fact, it suffers from the exact same problem as the school policies that it tries to remedy: It is too specific, and it does not allow school officials to apply common sense.

    Students will quickly learn that while a verbal threat may earn them a suspension, a hand-gesture threat, by law, cannot. Pretty soon every high-school student will know what a gun-shaped hand means.

    The problem here is not a few “imaginary gun” suspension. The problem is the absence of common sense. A better law would be “Schools are not allowed to impose ‘zero tolerace’ policies where a certain action leads to automatic consequences without the possibility for school officials to apply common sense.”

  5. Kenny Felder March 12, 2013 at 6:05 am #

    Granting Per’s point, this is still a step in the right direction. Now, if there were a law going the other way–say, making it illegal for children to use any word that has the letters “g”, “u”, and “n” in it (such as “gnu”)–there would be a host of parents writing in to support it. So we need to be the host of parents on the other side. We need to show that there is public support for common sense!!!

    Lenore, can you post specific instructions for where we can write or email to support this law?

  6. Lisa March 12, 2013 at 8:18 am #

    Sigh, has it really come to this? Where we have to draft a law like this?

  7. Edward March 12, 2013 at 8:24 am #

    A shame the CNN interviewer appears to be completely clueless as to what the ongoing problem is with zero tolerance across the country.

  8. Andy March 12, 2013 at 8:29 am #

    “GOOD! Lenore, I think you’ve made a difference. If we didn’t have people like you drawing our attention to the idocy that is zero tolerance and the like, there wouldn’t be anyone doing anything to stop the madness.”

    Lanore has just been banned from school as she has been interfering with the administrator’s madness and idiocy.

  9. Naturalmom March 12, 2013 at 8:31 am #

    I fear Per is correct. Laws to restore common sense often have unintended consequences that are as bad as what they sought to remedy. Sigh. It’s very tempting to pass a law like this, though. My first reaction is to cheer, and I *want* such a law to work as intended, but I have reservations.

  10. Marcy March 12, 2013 at 8:52 am #

    I agree with Per, et al. This has unintended consequences written all over it.

    How about a law banning zero tolerance policies, that necessitates an evaluation of individual infractions for appropriate individual consequences. A blanket law banning blanket policies! A banning of mandatory minimums if you will. 😉

  11. Katie March 12, 2013 at 9:22 am #

    Not “Ban” zero tolerance policies, “repeal” them.

  12. pentamom March 12, 2013 at 9:42 am #

    “prohibiting a principal from suspending or expelling a student who makes a hand shape or gesture resembling a gun…’

    Shouldn’t it say “a student for the infraction of making a hand shape or gesture resembling a gun”?

    The way it’s worded, a kid who is about to get expelled for actually shooting someone can make a gun gesture and then say, “You can’t do that! It’s illegal to expel someone who makes a gun gesture!”

    This badly needs to be rewritten!

    Actually, I think “ban” zero tolerance policies is the correct language because those “policies” are usually local, not made at the state level, so they’d have to be banned by the higher authority to prevent or vacate them, not repealed by the higher authority who didn’t make them in the first place.

  13. SKL March 12, 2013 at 9:50 am #

    All Americans should be seriously taken aback when a law needs to be proposed to let kids be kids.

    But will they?

  14. James March 12, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    If you read the actual text of the bill, “A principal may suspend or expel a student who performs an action specified in paragraph (1) of this subsection as a direct act of violence against another student on school property in accordance with § 7–305 of this subtitle.” So if you use that gesture as part of a violent act, you’re still out.

    Also, “The student and the student’s parent or guardian shall promptly be requested to attend a conference with the principal and other appropriate personnel during which the following shall be provided to the student:
    (i) Counseling regarding the provisions of this section; and
    (ii) A list of the objects specified in subsection (b)(1)(i) of this section that may not be brought to school.”

    So regardless, such an action is not without consequence.

  15. Captain America March 12, 2013 at 10:26 am #

    The cynic in me (and the old political scientist) says this legislator’s searching for gun club/gun lobby support.

  16. angie mcclure March 12, 2013 at 10:45 am #

    Per, high school students ALREADY know what a gun-shaped hand mean. We’re talking about CHILDREN here!

  17. pentamom March 12, 2013 at 10:58 am #

    Thanks, James, for the clarification.

  18. Katie March 12, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

    I agree with Per. Let common sense rule!

    I see two tandem problems with zero tolerance policies that I haven’t seen discussed.
    In the simple world of a child, our military and police forces fight the bad guys and lethal force is justified. Is it right to criminalize their heroes? What kind of internal conflict are we creating for their children? Coming from a non-military, non gun-owning family, I nonetheless appreciate and respect the sacrifices that are made on our behalf, including the tremendous burden that military families bear.
    Secondly, in typical child’s play, right and wrong, good guys versus bad guys, is clearly defined. And playing out both roles is necessary for proper social and emotional development. It seems like schools are saying only the villains have guns. But to a child (and adult!), the good guy has to win. That is healthy human development. Taking it away deprives children of the opportunity to test that theory through play.
    I am surprised psychologists and military/police families aren’t more vocal about these issues. Serious emotional damage can be the result.

  19. Donna March 12, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

    Pers, even the Senator who proposed the bill doesn’t think it will pass. He’s trying to get people talking about this and schools to start using common sense. He’s not really trying to pass a law.

    And all teens know what a gun symbol means. It is a common hand gesture that, I’m sure, is used frequently in high schools, particularly those in inner cities dealing with gang issues.

  20. Lisa March 12, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

    I agree with Katie. Why is it ok for our kids to pretend to be princesses, or baseball stars, or any number of other things, but NOT soldiers or police officers? I have never fired a gun, nor am I likely to ever own one, but my daughter is fully aware that both her dad and future stepdad spent 4 years in the military. We value and honor the heroes serving our country, and I think that playing with pretend versions of the tools of these jobs is at least as appropriate as playing with kid-sized replicas of the tools used for other jobs.

  21. Captain America March 12, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

    Lisa, you make an interesting comment. Back around that age, little Captain America was VERY into G.I. Joe and things like that, the occasional “good guys” vs. “bad guys” or “Germans vs. Americans” thing on the playground, in the neighborhood.

  22. Gina March 12, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

    At last…some brains!
    Today, I had a three year old boy wielding a plastic watering can say “I’m going to shoot you” (to me). My response: I don’t want to be shot. I don’t like that game.
    He moved on to the boys who DO like that game…and guess what? Nobody got hurt or even traumatized! Amazing!!!

  23. Warren March 12, 2013 at 5:35 pm #

    At least the good Sen. is bring attention to the issue.

    Unfortunately the ditz of an anchor was very disrespectful. I could not believe she was laughing at the Senator, and in turn laughing at all parents that care about their kids.

  24. The Old Wolf March 12, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

    Just yesterday I saw a bunch of kids walking down the street with their plastic arsenal… one was dressed up for all the world like an Islamic extremist, face scarf and everything. I laughed hard at seeing them play “commandos and terrorists.” Hey, I played cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers when I was a kid, and somehow managed to remain a law-abiding citizen. The context changes but the content remains the same. I’m glad to finally see some pushback against the “zero-common-sense” syndrome.

  25. Ann March 14, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

    While I’m glad to hear there is a senator out there with a brain in his head, it just seems absurd that we actually need a law to spell out the fact that a kid shouldn’t be suspended for pretending to use a stick or a pop-tart as a gun!!!

  26. Jennifer March 14, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

    Sorry, but when we have to LEGISLATE something as simple as common sense, there is not “hope”. Part of the reason we’re already in this mess, is that at some point instead of using our collective brains and imparting wisdom, we started using laws and rules to guide us in problematic situations.

    Every time I heard the words “there should be a law” it’s worse than fingernails on the chalkboard. We cannot legislate people into making good decisions, wise choices, or even having understanding and empathy instead of knee-jerk reactions.

  27. Kay March 15, 2013 at 5:08 pm #

    It’s hard to believe that it takes legislation to pound common sense into those we would expect to have some but, in the same vein as curbing frivolous lawsuits, this may be necessary. I don’t believe we should have to make more laws to combat other laws but perhaps some kind of intervention regarding public school. You’d think the publicity of these incidents of zero tolerance gone amuck would be enough to make them think twice.

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