Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN Legal & Legislation

A Return to Sanity? Lawmakers Push Back Against Zero-Tolerance Abuses

Friday, February 7, 2014

We've all seen warning labels on products that leave us scratching our heads and wondering, is that really necessary?  A popular sleeping pill, for example, cautions it may cause drowsiness.  Chainsaws have stickers admonishing users not to hold the saw by the blade.  A certain hand-held hairdryer even contains an advisory that it is not for use while sleeping.

Although most people could figure these things out for themselves, many of these labels likely come with a back story too bizarre for ordinary imaginations to conceive.

Such is the case with  Florida HB 7029, which on Wednesday passed out of the House Education K-12 Subcommittee by a 13-0 vote on its way to introduction.  Some are simply calling it the "Pop-Tart" Bill or the "Right to be Kids" Act.  We might well wish that those who educate and oversee America's children during the school day would instinctively understand that a toaster pastry could not reasonably be mistaken for a handgun, but a mounting list of back stories have unfortunately proven otherwise. Thus, HB 7029 emphasizes the need for often well-intentioned but increasingly overzealous educators to pause, take a breath, and consider the facts before mindlessly applying "zero tolerance" disciplinary polices aimed at keeping harmful weapons out of schools.

A number of illustrative absurdities have been chronicled on this site and the pages of other media outlets.  Besides the infamous Pop Tart incident, students have received suspensions and other harsh disciplinary actions, sometimes involving the police, for such "infractions" as pointing pencils or fingers at each other while making "shooting" sounds, drawing a stick figure with a gun (and a water gun at that, according to the seven-year-old "perpetrator"), and having a picture of a gun as a screensaver on a computer.  Students have also been punished--and, yes, arrested--for incidents arising out of NRA or firearm-themed t-shirts.  Not only are graphics on cloth objectively unable to cause physical harm, such attire can be constitutionally protected speech, according to prominent civil rights attorney Chuck Michel.

It's enough to make a person think that what's really being punished is any action or expression that suggests the idea of a gun, even if it is not disruptive or threatening.  In other words, what started out as policies aimed at gun crime have degenerated into a form of thought crime.

Thanks to this long train of abuses, HB 7029 would enshrine in statute the principle: "Simulating a firearm or weapon while playing or wearing clothing … that depict[s] a firearm or weapon or express[es] an opinion regarding a right guaranteed by the Second  Amendment  … is not grounds for  disciplinary action or referral [for prosecution]" under Florida statutes that prohibit "[b]ringing a firearm or weapon … to school …."  The bill goes further by specifically mentioning examples of presumptively innocent conduct, including "[b]randishing a partially consumed pastry … [v]ocalizing an imaginary firearm or weapon … [or] [d]rawing a picture, or possessing an image, of a firearm or weapon." 

The bill is not, however, intended to create yet another legislative straightjacket and allows educators to take into account the individual circumstances of an event.  Thus, they can still act if a simulation "substantially disrupts student learning, causes bodily harm to another person, or places another person in reasonable fear of bodily harm."  The bill also does not prohibit schools from adopting a policy requiring the wearing of uniforms.

Florida, moreover, is not the only state to be considering a bill of this sort.  A similar measure is pending in Oklahoma.   

We don't celebrate the fact that egg cartons now bear the warning, "This product may contain eggs."  Similarly, the abuses that necessitated these bills do not speak well of level-headedness (or the lack thereof) in today's schools.  We can only hope that these measures will have a moderating effect well beyond their jurisdictions and remind all concerned of the need for simple commonsense and the recognition that while kids will be kids, adults should aim higher with their own decision making.

TRENDING NOW
Washington: One Anti-Gun Substitute Dies in Committee, Another is Headed to the House Floor

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Washington: One Anti-Gun Substitute Dies in Committee, Another is Headed to the House Floor

Today, the House Judiciary Committee considered substitute bills for House Bill 1387 and House Bill 1122. 

Massachusetts: Legislation Introduced to Challenge AG Healey’s Gun Ban

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Massachusetts: Legislation Introduced to Challenge AG Healey’s Gun Ban

The Massachusetts General Court’s 2017 legislative session is in full swing with the introduction of numerous pro- and anti-gun bills.  Among the pro-gun bills are Senate Docket 1157 and Senate Docket 1889.  Both SD 1157 ...

Kentucky: House Introduces Constitutional/Permitless Carry Legislation

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Kentucky: House Introduces Constitutional/Permitless Carry Legislation

The Kentucky House of Representatives introduced their own constitutional/permitless carry bill. House Bill 316, sponsored by Representative C. Wesley Morgan (R-81), recognizes Kentuckians’ freedom to legally carry a concealed firearm without the burdensome requirement of acquiring ...

Washington: Gun Control Proponents Attempting to Amend Gun Ban Bill

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Washington: Gun Control Proponents Attempting to Amend Gun Ban Bill

Your NRA-ILA has learned that anti-gun legislators are planning to make amendments to House Bill 1387 in order to make it seem less outrageous.

Washington: Gun Control Bills to be Voted on in House Committee

Monday, February 13, 2017

Washington: Gun Control Bills to be Voted on in House Committee

This Thursday, February 16th, the Washington House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on House Bill 1387 and House Bill 1122.

Senate Votes to Block Obama Social Security Administration Gun Ban; Legislation Heads to President Trump

News  

Friday, February 17, 2017

Senate Votes to Block Obama Social Security Administration Gun Ban; Legislation Heads to President Trump

On Wednesday morning, the U.S. Senate voted 57-43 in favor of H.J.Res.40, which would block the implementation of an Obama-era rule under which the Social Security Administration (SSA) would report the names of tens of ...

Washington: Gun Ban Substitute to be Considered Tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Washington: Gun Ban Substitute to be Considered Tomorrow!

As we alerted earlier today, anti-gun legislators were planning to amend House Bill 1387 into something that would help them garner more support. 

NRA-Backed Resolution to Stop Obama Attack on State Wildlife Management Passes House

News  

Hunting  

Friday, February 17, 2017

NRA-Backed Resolution to Stop Obama Attack on State Wildlife Management Passes House

On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.J. Res. 69, a measure that would use the Congressional Review Act to repeal an Obama-era rule passed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to preempt ...

ATF Associate Deputy Director Pens “White Paper” on Reducing Needless Firearms Regulations

News  

Friday, February 10, 2017

ATF Associate Deputy Director Pens “White Paper” on Reducing Needless Firearms Regulations

On Monday, the Washington Post reported on a “white paper” written by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Associate Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer Ronald Turk that outlines several changes that ATF could ...

Connecticut Governor Covers for Failed Policies by Increasing Fees on Gun Owners

News  

Friday, February 17, 2017

Connecticut Governor Covers for Failed Policies by Increasing Fees on Gun Owners

Times are tough in the Constitution State, where Democrat governor Dannel Malloy of Connecticut, despite governing the fifth wealthiest state in the nation, where 25% of households earn more than $100,000 and 10% earn more ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -
NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.