Have We Gone Too Far This Time with “Pop-Tart” Gun Laws?

It seems with just about everything in life, we have a pendulum effect. One day we have the pendulum all the way to the right and before too long it swings all the way to the left. This may be what we are experiencing with the so-called “Pop-Tart Gun Laws” that have been around since 2013.

If you aren’t familiar with this term, Pop-Tart Gun Law, allow me to give you some background on it. Just a few years ago there were several instances where children in schools were eating their food and shaping them in the shape of a gun. This caused some to overreact and suspend these kids from school because they felt this was a threatening gesture. It actually started when a seven-year old boy, Joshua Welch from Baltimore did this at breakfast and was suspended for two days.

The reaction was significant…to a point where Senator J.B. Jennings introduced legislation aimed at not having children disciplined for this type of “Pop-Tart” behavior…thus the name Pop-Tart Gun Law. There is a great write up about this in CBC News in and article, “Pop-Tart gun laws: Fighting for the right to keep and bear pastry in the U.S.” Here they talk more about the law and suggest that Texas might be the first state to pass such a law preserving playful representation of firearms.

The issue is based on the “zero tolerance” gun laws that have been passed by many states regarding the behavior of children in schools. Many believe this has been taken too far and some are overreacting to normal childhood activities. The Reasonable School Discipline Act of 2013 was designed to ensure no other student was severely disciplined in this manner for such behavior. It also included drawing a picture of a gun and other activities that they felt weren’t threatening but part of childhood.

Many felt this was very reactionary and taking the zero tolerance laws to the extreme. Especially after the Sandy Hook incident in 2012, there was heightened awareness of guns in schools. But left to school administrators, some were taking this to a far more aggressive level than was intended by the zero tolerance policy. And there were more ramifications to this for the future academic journey of the children, as they stated in the article from J.B. Jennings…

“If we wait too long, this type of reaction will become the standard response by school administrators only serving to perpetuate fear amongst our young students, not to mention putting marks on permanent academic records that are neither appropriate nor warranted.”

The law in Baltimore failed, but other states have been introducing this into their legislation. Florida was the first state to pass such a law this past year and Oklahoma has recently reintroduced the bill as of this week. It appears Texas may be the next in line to pass such a bill with others to most likely follow in the coming year or two. Representative Ryan Guillen is leading this bill and said, “I saw stories in the media about kids being taken out of class over something as silly as a Pop-Tart gun. I don’t want to see that happen.”

What are your thoughts on this type of legislation? It sounds silly to start with and a waste of taxpayer’s money to many. But when you are talking about the school records of children and how this can stay with them for their entire education career, it is more than just “Childs play.”

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