Last week, a Maryland boy nibbled his strawberry, pre-baked toaster pastry into the shape of a gun while at school. Naturally, the public school officials at Park Elementary School in Brooklyn Park freaked out when they noticed the Pop-Tart gun and suspended the boy for two days.
In an interview with Baltimore Fox station WBFF the budding ‘delinquent’ shared his story.
“It was already a rectangle and I just kept on biting it and biting it and tore off the top and it kinda looked like a gun but it wasn’t,” said 7-year-old Josh Welch. “All I was trying to do was turn it into a mountain but, it didn’t look like a mountain really and it turned out to be a gun kinda.”
Following the incident, one lawmaker is making strides to ensure that no student is subjected to such harsh punishment for essentially being a kid.
Sen. J.B. Jennings (R-Baltimore) has introduced Senate Bill 1058: ‘The Reasonable School Discipline Act of 2013’ or as The Daily Caller nicknamed it: ‘Toaster Pastry Gun Freedom Act.’
Under the language of the bill, no student is to be expelled or suspended for possessing on school property “a picture of a gun, a computer image of a gun, a facsimile of a gun, or any other object that resembles a gun but serves another purpose,” i.e. a delicious breakfast snack.
The bill also protects students who make gun-related hand gestures and sets up disciplinary grounds for principals or teachers who violate the act.
“We really need to re-evaluate how kids are punished,” Jennings told The Star Democrat. “These kids can’t comprehend what they are doing or the ramifications of their actions.”
“These suspensions are going on their permanent records and could have lasting effects on their educations,” he added
But not everyone believes that legislating what should be common sense is necessary or a worthwhile endeavor for elected public officials. Along these lines, CNN talking head Soledad O’Brien questioned Jennings about the bill.
After calling the suspension “unreasonable,” she went on to say, “But I think that then going to legislation is also unreasonable. If you were my state senator I’d want you to be doing other things, and not worrying about the danish shaped into a gun…”
“My constituents have called me. They’re upset about this,” Jennings replied. “Their children, their students, are getting in trouble for these minor infractions and getting suspended. And they want it addressed.”
“I just think to legislate teachable moments is problematic,” said O’Brien.
Instead of more laws, perhaps what everyone needs is counseling, more one-on-one therapy sessions. At least that’s what the school is now offering students who were traumatized by the incident.
Park Elementary School Assistant Principal Myrna Phillips sent out this letter to parents following the Pop-Tart fiasco, as reported by Reason.com (emphasis added):
Dear Parents and Guardians:
I am writing to let you know about an incident that occurred this morning in one of our classrooms and encourage you to discuss this matter with your child in a manner you deem most appropriate.
During breakfast this morning, one of our students used food to make inappropriate gestures that disrupted the class. While no physical threats were made and no one [was] harmed, the student had to be removed from the classroom.
As you are aware, the … Code of Student Conduct and appropriate consequences related to violations of the code are clearly spelled out in the Student Handbook, which was sent home during the first week of school and can be found on our website, www.aacps.org….
If your children express that they are troubled by today’s incident, please talk with them and help them share their feelings. Our school counselor is available to meet with any students who have the need to do so next week. In general, please remind them of the importance of making good choices.
Obviously, this story raises a bunch of questions about an increasing hypersensitivity to guns and gun culture (If not hypersensitivity, than demonization of guns and gun culture). For example, are schools conditioning children to be gut-wrenchingly fearful of firearms?
If that’s the case, if teachers and school officials are indoctrinating students with an anti-gun hysteria, how does that bode for the health and well-being of the gun community?