Wow, This Hasn’t Happened in Like, 30 Seconds: Boy Suspended for Toy Guns

Yep, folks, it’s another Zero Tolerance situation. Sounds like a second grade boy in Ohio brought two toy guns to school, one of which ostensibly looked real. If it did, I can certainly understand administrators being concerned. You don’t want anyone getting the wrong idea. I sure don’t.  But why suspend the kid? Just tell him not to do it again. Sheesh! He’s in second grade! And why have the police involved? And why refer to the toys as “weapons,” as the news article does? Overkill, thy name is America!

Anyway, I did appreciate the one comment this story engendered. It’s a little over the top, but I’m with the guy — Bradland Steph Werley — in spirit. (His quotes are from the article):

“The weapons were found in the student’s book bag this morning at 9 a.m., Superintendent Tom Tucker said.”

Toys, dumb@ss. Not weapons.

“He was crying. I think he understood the seriousness of what he did.”

Yeah, OR the 2nd grader was crying because #1 he is around 7 years old and #2 he sees adults freaking out over toys and they #3 call the police who come to the school and #4 the kid gets sent home with a letter to his parents (suspended).

Perhaps the kid was crying because he had an epiphany, a moment of realization that zero tolerance means professional adults are no longer willing or able to use their brains to discern degrees of threats. Perhaps the child was crying because it was just confirmed to him that the land of the free is the home of the pantywaists.

Police and suspension over toys. As a parent, this over reaction doesn’t make me feel better about school safety, it makes me cringe because kids are not P.C… They are kids. Accident prone, gaffe prone, saying silly things, doing stupid things…normal kids.
Good job though, professional adults. I wouldn’t want anyone to get shot by that lunatic 2nd grader’s imaginary bullets. …

At least there wasn’t a lockdown!

, , ,

39 Responses to Wow, This Hasn’t Happened in Like, 30 Seconds: Boy Suspended for Toy Guns

  1. Josh S March 12, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

    Gee. I remember in high school that one of our teachers (who also led/supervised the Tech Team for school plays) actively *encouraged* the folks on the Tech Team to bring in pocketknives or multi-tools so that we could work better.

    He demanded that we be responsible about them (not pulling them out in the halls, only using them as tools and not toys, etc), but there was never a problem, even though we were “bringing weapons” to school.

    This was in the late 90s, and I believe he continued to do so into the 00s after I graduated.

    Now a kid might get suspended for even drawing a gun on a paper? All my grade school doodles of planes that shot guns would probably have gotten me expelled. Unbelievable.

  2. Havva March 12, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

    He was probably crying because the school officials were taking away his toys. As I recall kids that age mostly knew that it was a big deal to bring a toy to school. So when we did it was something we really cared about, and we knew mom would let us have it if we lost it…. or goofed off in class and had it confiscated by the teacher.

    Of course, if the boy knew they were calling the police, he was almost certainly crying about that. When I was in middle school a bit of a riot broke out on the school bus. The driver pulled over and called the cops. Highway patrol and some MPs showed up. Lots of the middle school kids were crying. They were terrified. They didn’t know what would happen to them. They didn’t know how long they would be detained, when they would get to go home, or talk to their parents. What would happen to them. There was probably also some fear that they would go from being caught in the cross fire of food stuffs, and school supplies, to well… the cops have plenty of scary tools for riot control. Frankly I would have lost it too, if my friends hadn’t gotten there first and kept me busy comforting them.

  3. Sarah March 12, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

    Holly cow! They could not just sit the 7 yr old down and inform him that retarded school administrators and trigger happy law enforcement might blow him to smithereens because from a distance they cannot tell the difference between a toy and the real thing (it’s happened before)? Then send him out to play. If he brings it to school again make him sit out reassess.

  4. CrazyCatLady March 12, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

    The stupid school district next door to mine suspended a kid last week for TALKING about NERF guns that his family got while on vacation.

    His parents appealed, and the school board reversed it and said that he was just causing a disturbance.

    Stupid, stupid people. That poor kid, and all the other little ones, who have no idea what is going on, only wanted to please their friends or have a conversation. I agree with the commenter. Stupid A$$es…scaring kids like that!

  5. pentamom March 12, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

    If there’s a rule against bringing toy guns to school, the child should receive some kind of reasonable (minor) punishment for breaking the rule. For a kid that age, probably being called to the principal’s office, having the toys confiscated until the end of the day, and being told his parents were going to be informed is really enough.

    But suspension? Cops? What utter nonsense! They are treating bringing a toy gun to school as if it were *the same offense* as bringing a real one! Way to enstupidify the kids, educators!

  6. Dave March 12, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

    How do we on the one hand scream 2nd amendment rights and on the other hand suspend a child from carrying a toy gun? Are we sending mixed messages? Toys are toys and boys play with toy guns. If you take them away they will make toy guns out of sticks. How about teaching responsibility with regard to guns as opposed to no tolerance? Do we suspend boys in kindergarten for bring a toy gun to school but then when he grows up we demand that he carry a real gun because it is his right? I always hoped that the people educating my children to think, (the purpose of school) would possess that ability themselves. What do I know.

  7. Warren March 12, 2013 at 2:30 pm #

    First thing I would like to know, is where the school’s actually got the right to search student’s bags? That aside, things are only getting worse.

    Example of how bad things have gotten, the CNN anchor laughing in the face of the Senator trying to do something about zero tolerance.

  8. lollipoplover March 12, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    When my daughter was 4 she had her Star of the Day bag to fill with a favorite book, toys, and anything special she wanted to share with the class. She picked the Paperbag Princess as her book and some other things (mostly girly stuff) when my older son said she should bring something in for the boys too. She ran down the basement and grabbed a few things to add to the bag(I admit- I never looked!) and went to preschool.

    I asked her when she got home how it went. She said “Great, but I wasn’t allowed to pass the guns around but they did get to see the lightsaber.” I think I spit whatever I was eating out and told her to get the bag, and was horrified that she had packed the long green rifle from the shooting gallery game, a lightsaber, and this metal toy gun that made a spark (really cool old toy) because it reminded her of the dragon in the book spewing flames. She said the teacher just put them back in the bag and said she
    had so many great things to share already.

    I am truly grateful there are still some sane, rational adults employed as teachers who recognize zero tolerance cannot ever apply to children. Ever. Because today’s toy gun will be tomorrow’s no pencils Nothing can ever be too safe, especially schools.

  9. marie March 12, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

    In an ideal world, kids would be required to take a gun safety class. As it is now, with all the hysteria about guns (don’t touch! don’t draw! don’t pretend! don’t play! don’t even think it!) kids will be completely unprepared for the day when they discover the handgun in Dad’s bottom drawer or the rifle in a friend’s garage. More education about guns means safer gun-handling.

  10. missjanenc March 12, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

    I think every time one of these asinine situations occur all of us need to call and/or email the school principal to express outrage at the stupidity of their actions. Scaring the crap out of a second grader is cruel and a lot scarier than bringing a toy gun to school.

  11. SKL March 12, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

    I’m glad they are so proud that they made this little boy cry over having a stinking toy.

    I am looking forward to seeing real penalties applied to administrators who dish out suspensions in cases like this.

  12. M March 12, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

    Good grief.

  13. Nicole March 12, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

    And I’m sure the letter reassured that no one was hurt and offered counseling. I’m not even sure if my school has security.

  14. catspaw73 March 12, 2013 at 4:36 pm #

    I am confused, on one hand we are hearing via the international media, Americans going on about how it is their right to bear arms, the need to have guns to defend themselves and how without the right to gun ownership they would be living in a police state, then we hear about things like this, a kid having the police called on him and suspended for having a toy gun. Talk about mixed messages to the rest of the world :-)

  15. Yan Seiner March 12, 2013 at 4:46 pm #

    @marie: I am 100% with you. I live in a place where a lot of people hunt, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that my kids would come across firearms at a friend’s house. So they learned how to shoot, how to handle a weapon, how to insure a weapon is safe, and so on.

    Coming across a loaded gun is a “known risk”, one that I can prepare for and teach my kids to deal with. Hiding and pretending that a piece of paper or a plastic toy will hurt you is silly.

    Worse, they’ve now taught the school kids not to say a word, to hide, and if a kid brings a real gun, chances are probably smaller that someone will report it. Way to go.

  16. hineata March 12, 2013 at 5:04 pm #

    @Warren – if they were in the kid’s book bag, they probably just fell out when he went to pull out his book for group reading. Or he showed them to the kid next to him while they were waiting for the teacher to get ready.

    Still an incredibly stupid reason to suspend a kid!

    @Lollipoplover – love your girl, and the teacher. Wonderful to see commonsense being applied.

    And you make a good point – toy guns are certainly way less dangerous than pencils with decent leads. Let’s ban all pencils with lead. And while we’re at it, all pens must go – they go right into a leg, given the correct amount of force.

    Maybe all this is some kind of sick conspiracy from Apple and Microsoft. Ban toy guns, then maybe pencils, then pens. Then all kids would need tablets. But, wait….You could probably brain someone with a tablet, too, LOL!

  17. hineata March 12, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

    Actually, why doesn’t someone organise for every child in that school to take a toy gun to school for the day? The school could hardly get away with suspending the entire student body, surely? And even if they did manage to, at least the kids would be at home, being taught by more sensible adults….

  18. Kimberly March 12, 2013 at 5:15 pm #

    Please remember that things like this make the news because they are unusual. Things like the follow are more the norm p

    I teach 2nd grade. I had a student bring a toy knife and bow and arrow to school. I took them away and locked them up. I put them in a bag and the 2nd grade teacher in charge of pick ups handed it directly to the father, who confirmed that she was grounded from those toys for 2 weeks. I know he followed through because she came in every day for 2 weeks telling me I was mean and that I made her Dad lock up her toys. In this case the child is a chronic offender.

    2 other times I had older kids bring actual tools/weapons to school. 1 forgot he had his pocket knife in is backpack after camping – He got grounded by Dad.

    The other was trying to prove he was using the tools/weapons in a martial art class. Mom was all over herself thanking me for locking them up till she could come get them. That student had poor impulse control and we were both amazed he hadn’t started trouble on the bus to school.

    Mom made the child fess up to the teacher at the martial arts school and he took up the tools until the child earned them back. He had to make a formal apology to me. (We talked the martial arts teacher out of the idea of him apologizing to the bus driver – we were afraid transportation might kick him off the bus because he was already on very thin ice with transportation. )

  19. Sky March 12, 2013 at 5:29 pm #

    Currently, my kids go to a private school and they are allowed to bring in toy guns and swords and bows and arrows on dress up days (such as Colonial Day or Dress as Your Favorite Literary Character Day or Medieval Day). They are permitted to draw war scenes during their break or snack gtime and play cops and robbers at recess. No one considers any of this problematic. The older kids engage in a strategic, week-long war game of their history class, which typically involves all sorts of “weapons” from water guns to nerf guns to raw eggs. My kids will go to public school when we move states next year (all sorts of reasons for this change), and I do fear the adjustment on this particular topic will be quite jarring.

  20. Warren March 12, 2013 at 5:29 pm #


    I suggested the toy gun day on an earlier story. The dollar store neon pink and green water guns would be perfect for this, as there is no possible way to confuse them for real weapons.

    On another note, what would the teacher do if the student said they were only exercising his or her constitutional right to bare arms

  21. Donald March 12, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

    This is theater security in order to build up a theater defence against the chance 1 in a million lawsuit.

    Children learn best by example. Why are we training kids to be neurotic freaks that blindly obey orders (regardless how stupid) and intimidate young children? Don’t we want to teach them how to use common sense?

    Don’t we want to reduce the number of psycopaths? Why are we trying to increase their numbers?

  22. Donald March 12, 2013 at 6:01 pm #

    Here’s a wild idea

    Why don’t we allow children the oppertunity to grow out of playing with guns?

  23. sandy March 12, 2013 at 6:07 pm #


    I don’t think anyone has a problem with “bare” arms- I see kids in short sleeved shirts all the time ; )

  24. hineata March 12, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

    @Sandy – brilliant! Actually all my kids are wandering around with ‘bare’ arms at the moment – maybe I should have them all arrested. Would make for an easy day’s work, LOL!

    @Warren – those sound like a great idea too.

    My school is actually having a water play day on Friday. I hadn’t given serious thought before to what a dangerous activity this is (probably because, well, it isn’t!). Maybe I should phone the US Embassy – they could use the obvious threat to life and limb from my elementary students as an exercise in how to close down a school – without pesky problems like law suits, this not being on US soil or anything, LOL!

    That poor lad in the original post – let’s hope sanity returns soon.

  25. Stacey March 12, 2013 at 7:23 pm #

    i wonder what would happen if one day every kid in school brought a toy gun. would they suspend all of them? for something that 20 years ago everyone was doing anyway.

  26. Emily March 12, 2013 at 9:55 pm #

    When I was a kid in early elementary school (grades K-3 or 4, I think), we had interlocking counting cubes that were theoretically intended as “manipulatives” for math exercises, but in reality, a lot of kids (including me) played with them like Lego blocks, and made things out of them. Some of the boys used to make guns out of the blocks, and the teachers neither encouraged it, nor punished them–they were just being typical young boys.

  27. Suzanne March 13, 2013 at 10:09 am #

    When I saw this was in Lorain it made me a little sad, I thought they were made of tougher stuff over there here is the response I left for Miss James, author of the original article:

    This blurb is very poorly written unless it is trying to be a perfect example of what’s wrong with news reporting. Current “news reporting” takes anything that may happen and tries to make it sound important or scary or newsworthy. This article did all three. Here is what is should say to be more accurate:

    A second grade student at Larmoor Elementary has been suspended after bringing two toy guns to school. The toys were found in the student’s book bag this morning at 9 a.m.,Superoverreactor Tom Tucker said. “This is not the first time a child has brought toys to school but it’s the first time we have completely over-reacted like this, I mean they are toy guns and that is very scary.” Lorain Police LT Roger Watkins said the student showed the toys to another classmate who tattled on him.

    “The toys were confiscated by school officials.” he said. “One of the toys vaugely resembled a real firearm if you squinted at it but the other was clearly fake. He was crying. I think he understood the insanity of the world he is growing up into and he’s pretty little still – those kids cry a lot when they get in trouble.”

    To reiterate – school officials confiscated the toys and notified security. Assistant Superoverreactor David Hall sent a letter to parents to try to make the incident sound like it was handled well when it really was a huge mess. He did not appologize for the state of education in Lorain city schools but he should have.

    See, now it explains what happened. It doesn’t seem as scary but it does still appear to be newsworthy by it’s sheer ridiculousness.

  28. Warren March 13, 2013 at 10:54 am #

    And as long as parents let this happen, it will only get worse. Allowing the schools to get away with this crap, only validates their actions.

    I know, there is a whole faction of people in here, that think storming into the office, and demanding apologies, answers and disciplinary actions against staff is horrible uncivilized behaviour.

    Well what the hell do you call adults in positions of authority, searching, interogating and terrifying a 7 yr old.

    Maybe just maybe if some parent would grow stones, things would change.

    As a teacher, you do this to my child, you cannot hide behind the principal, you cannot hide behind school policy. You will deal with me.

    Just because they are an educator does not give them the right to verbally or emotionally abuse my child.

  29. Ann in L.A. March 13, 2013 at 11:45 am #

    With all this hysteria teaching children that all guns–even ones on T-shirts honoring the Marines–are wicked, evil, and that they are terrible little children for liking them, where do people think the next generation of police and military are going to spring from?

  30. EricS March 13, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

    I’m telling you, with the mental state and fear of most people in America. They will destroy themselves long before any foreign powers invade, any natural disasters decimates, or even a collapse of the economy. Americans can’t blame anyone but Americans.

    I remember a time when kids would be running around (by themselves), in parks and playgrounds with toy guns in hand, pointing and pretend shooting at people (including police), and all anyone would do was laugh and smile. Why? Because they were enjoying the fact that children were having a great time playing. And playing with other kids, whether they knew them or not. Now a banana held the wrong way and pointed at the wrong person can land a kid in juvy. Maybe even put on the terrorists watch list. Ignorance and stupidity truly have no bounds these days.

  31. EricS March 13, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    @ Suzanne: In the past, and in a world were common sense still applied to most things, that would be the ideal thing to happen. And I would agree with you. I also agree that regardless of how people felt, that should have been what happened anyway. But unfortunately, people are to scared of everything. No one wants to be accountable anymore. Parents sue schools and other institutions for the dumbest things. So they in turn have to protect themselves by making very vague zero tolerance policies. And media wants to make money. The only way they are going to do that is to sensationalize the news. It’s a perpetual problem.

    News sensationalizes, making people fear the worse of everything, and that it happens ALL THE TIME, and to EVERYONE, in EVERY corner of the world (especially in your community. People then start to over react based on these irresponsible news. People get the idea, that if one person can sue and win money, they can too. Now institutions have to protect themselves. So they make dumb rules, that even if they are wrong they will never apologize or budge on their stance. Even at the risk of the children’s emotional and mental well being.

    You look at all these things, and it becomes less about children and children’s safety. And more to do with the “adults” and how THEY feel. Sad, how people like to use kids as an excuse to push their own agendas. Isn’t that considered exploitation. And isn’t child exploitation illegal. Hmmmmm.

  32. Donna March 13, 2013 at 8:19 pm #

    I don’t know of anyone here who would not storm into the school and demand something be done if this was their child. If fact, every known case has resulted in parents storming the school, getting the media involved and mostly getting suspensions lessened or reversed completely. I’m not sure why you think otherwise. Resolving the individual case is not the issue. Changing school mentality is.

    The issue is that this is not happening at the same school over and over again. Obviously, if that was the case then parent after parent storming the school would get finally get the school to change its policy. But it is happening once at one school and then once at another school in a completely different state, hundreds of miles away. Storming school A fixes your immediate problem but does absolutely nothing to stop school B from doing the exact same thing to another kid the next day.

    Most people here are not looking for solutions for an immediate problem of dealing with their child who has been suspended for bringing a toy gun to school. That hasn’t happened to anyone here to my knowledge and we all seem pretty capable of handling our own parenting issues such as this if it did. We are looking for answers on how to change the overall societal mentality that this is proper. The media ridicule these cases get is probably going a lot farther to meet that purpose than anything else at this point.

  33. Kiwimum March 13, 2013 at 11:01 pm #

    I’m going to contribute from the OTHER end of the sanity-over-guns spectrum, here in NZ where we don’t carry guns around as a matter of course. My 14 yr old son’s physics class was requested by the teacher to bring in their (toy) projectile weapons (think mostly Nerf guns, a few slingshots) for a lesson on trajectories. A considerable arsenal was amassed, and used to good effect for the lesson – which concluded with a free play session where they all ‘shot’ each other. My son reports the teacher seemed to particularly enjoy brandishing a matched pair of Nerf pistols during the lesson to emphasise learning points. Having had a good laugh at the American madnesses on this site, he is now asking if his whole class now needs ‘counselling’ (joke).

  34. Warren March 14, 2013 at 8:06 am #

    And you are right, that these parents will get their little darling off the hook or at least lessened punishment. That is where they fail.

    Stopping there is just passing the buck, because it will happen again and again to other kids. But in today’s selfish society, parents do not give a rat’s ass about the next kid, as long as their little on is okay.

    That is the problem, too many whiners and not enough parents willing to do anything about it.

  35. Lesley March 14, 2013 at 4:07 pm #

    Oh wow, that is just so much overkill for a couple of toys. Common sense should have been used surely. How is that the childs fault.

  36. Donna March 14, 2013 at 7:27 pm #

    Warren –

    I have yet to see a series of repeat offenses from the same school or even same school district, so it does appear that whatever the parents are doing locally is working locally. It is simply having no larger impact.

    What exactly do you suggest parents do about cases that have not happened yet? At schools in which they have yet to occur? Since I know your only answer: what is it that you think me storming into my school – that has yet to suspend a kid for a pop tart – and demanding that kids never be suspended for pop tarts is going to accomplish other than making me looking insane? Or am I supposed to travel to Maryland (or where ever) to yell at the pop tart principal because clearly that will stop my school in Georgia from doing the same thing?

    I really couldn’t care less about cases where this has already occurred. They’re being handled quite well from what I see. I want solutions for making schools that have not done anything like this never do anything like this. Other than the occasional direct question from somebody, this blog is about changing society and not about solving individual problems at individual schools. It is not about what we should do after a kid is suspended for a pop tart but how we stop all future kids from being suspended for pop tarts or something equally idiotic that has not yet been done but probably will be tomorrow.

  37. Warren March 15, 2013 at 12:00 am #

    Donna get of you high freaking horse. And stop talking down to me. I promise you wouldn’t do it in person, so don’t do it here.

    These parents that have had it happen to them, are the ones that have to spearhead campaigns with other parent’s. They make the most credible lobbyists, not someone without the experience. They need to take it to the boards, the county and as far as they can, to get the zero tolerance crap removed. But they don’t and neither would you, because you only care about your own little world.
    If you would take a break from your self righteous attitude for a moment, you might think to see the trend, and pre-emptively approach the school about their zero tolerance rules. Oh wait no, that would mean rocking the boat or possibly offending their culture. Yes best just remain silent.

  38. Emily March 17, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

    I think it’s possible to take a middle ground between Donna and Warren’s ways of expressing your opinions in your child’s school. One good way is to join the PTA, and volunteer at the school, except that it often requires extensive (and expensive) background checks, and a lot of school events conflict with parents’ work schedules. However, if it’s feasible to participate in the school community in other ways, by, say, attending students’ performances and sports games (not even necessarily just your own child’s) that take place in the evening, and possibly volunteering to do something that doesn’t need a background check, like helping to paint scenery or make costumes for a school play, then that’s one way to get your foot in the door, and while you’re doing those things, you’ll get to know the school officials, as well as other parents, so it’ll be easier to gently speak up about things. If you’re time-crunched, then you could always help in other ways, such as donating old clothing and furniture to the drama department, to repurpose as costumes and scenery, or maybe going to Costco and buying a flat of juice boxes for the soccer team at halftime, or a big box of Popsicle sticks for the kids to use during arts and crafts. This isn’t bribery, because a lot of the time, teachers have to pay for these things out of their own pockets, because the school budget doesn’t stretch to cover “extras,” or even really enough basic supplies–so, if the kids leave the dry-erase markers uncapped, and they don’t have any more money allocated to buy more, they have to either put up with the crummy markers, or pay for another set themselves.

    As for the issue of “complaining about something that hasn’t happened yet,” it’s perfectly easy to flip that around, and turn it into a positive, because it IS a positive. You could say, for example, “Oh, Ms. Principal, did you hear about the school that suspended that little boy over an L-shaped Pop-Tart? I’m so glad that people still use common sense over here at Hypothetical Scenario Elementary School; that’s why I chose to send little Beauford here.” This conversation could take place casually, maybe outside on the schoolyard, during the halftime of Beauford’s soccer game, and it’d come off as a compliment rather than a complaint. Then, Ms. Principal would get the feedback that the parents of the Hypothetical Scenario students value common sense over uber-safety, and she’d feel satisfied that she’s doing the right thing. Then, when it’s time to raise a not-so-positive issue, you’ll have built a rapport with Ms. Principal, so she’ll be more receptive to whatever the issue is, and more open to the idea of collaboratively finding a solution. I know that this idea sounds bubble-wrappish, but it’s not, really–it’s about viewing the school as a community, and taking an active role in that community, as a parent. There are boundaries with this approach, obviously–I mean, don’t helicopter by intervening over every little thing, but if there’s a problem with bullying, or if you think your kid might have a learning disability (beyond just not wanting to do the work), or if there’s some other problem that the child can’t reasonably solve for him-or-herself, then it’s easier to speak up if you’re well-known and well-liked around the school.

  39. websites April 9, 2013 at 6:53 pm #

    No other man should make me to think or do unles i dont hurt other