July 10 2013
Patrice J. Lee
As we’ve noted before, children in states across the country are falling victim to zero-tolerance rules that penalize them for simple acts that kids do when playing or expressing themselves.
School administrators have suspended a seven-year-old for chewing his pop tart into the shape of a gun, suspended two six year-olds for playing cops and robbers during recess using their fingers as guns, and demanded that a three-year-old deaf boy change his name because its sign language expression resembled a gun. I wish these were made up, but who in her right mind could make this up?
Now Republican Congressman Steve Stockman of Texas is taking aim, if we can still say that, at these ill-advised actions. This week Stockman introduced legislation that blocks federal dollars to schools that enforce rules which punish kids for playing with imaginary weapons.
Schools that violate the new Student Protection Act can say Hasta la vista to their much-desired federal funds. The bill protects the following:
(1) brandishing a pastry or other food which is partially consumed in such a way that the remnant resembles a gun;
(2) possession of a toy gun which is two inches or less;
(3) possession of a toy gun made of plastic snap together building blocks;
(4) using a finger or hand to simulate a gun;
(5) vocalizing imaginary firearms or munitions;
(6) wearing a T-shirt that supports Second Amendment rights;
(7) drawing a picture of, or possessing an image of, a firearm; or
(8) using a pencil, pen or other writing utensil to simulate a firearm.
It's absurd that a federal law is required to protect such harmless activities.
Still, this bill is a welcome indicator that the ridiculous policies and actions of educators who have gone too far and should not be tolerated. It’s important that this bill not just be a wagging of the finger. It’s a serious attempt to change behavior by targeting school administrators in the most painful place: the wallet.
We are not diminishing the harm that firearms in little hands can do. But –as even the ACLU has acknowledged– these punishments are knee-jerk reactions lacking in common sense against actions that present no threat to the well-being of others.
This bill also highlights a larger troubling trend of “government-sanctioned political correctness traumatizing children and spreading irrational fear.” Young minds are impressionable and especially malleable in the hands of teachers and principals. Instead of teaching kids how and when guns can be used safely and by whom, administrators choose to instill fear and hate for all guns. This is at best a tactic to preempt future lawsuits if something goes awry and at worse a sinister strategy to reprogram our kids with anti-gun agenda.
With enough pressure, schools will be put on notice that there is zero-tolerance for policies that harm our kids.