A bill backed by the National Rifle Association that lawmakers said would add “common sense” to zero-tolerance policies for guns in public schools sailed through a House education panel on Wednesday.
The measure (PCB KTS 14-02) by House Judiciary Chairman Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, would prevent children from being disciplined for simulating a gun while playing or wearing clothes that depict firearms.
Baxley called the measure “the pop-tart bill” — a reference to a widely reported news story about a Maryland 7-year-old who was suspended from school last year for chewing his breakfast pastry into the shape of a gun.
“Obviously we don’t want firearms brought to school in a backpack,” Baxley said. “But we were definitely having some over-reactions.”
According to national news reports, incidents have included punishing students for drawing a picture of a gun, using a finger as an imaginary gun while making the sound of a gun, owning a miniature gun on a keychain, owning a gun made of Legos and wearing a National Rifle Association T-shirt to school.
Rep. Karen Castor Dentel, a Maitland Democrat and a public-school teacher, said the zero-tolerance policies often prevent administrators from using their common sense “because their hands are tied. I support the bill so that people will be able to have that flexibility.”