Louisiana lawmakers want to jail students for toting toy guns

Legislation has been filed in the Louisiana House of Representatives that would penalize kids for taking toy guns to school.

House Bill 43, proposed by Republican Rep. Dodie Horton, could fine students up to $250 and jail them up to six months for possessing an imitation gun in a public school, school-sponsored event, school bus, or within 1,000 yards of a school.

The bill includes air guns, toy guns, water guns and others “substantially similar in coloration and overall appearance to an existing firearm as to lead a reasonable person to perceive that the device is a firearm.”

The Advocate reports that supporters of the legislation, which include the powerful Louisiana Sheriff’s Association, say many toy guns now look so real that students carrying them may be at risk of getting shot by law enforcement.

“We are not talking about a little green water pistol like when you and I were in school,” Bossier Parish Sheriff Julian Whittington said.

“This is a whole different ball of wax,” he said. “These things look real.”

Whittington continued: “You cannot tell, until you hold that thing and figure out where the bullets go, that it is not real. They are so real it is scary.”

Both Rep. Horton and Sheriff Whittington are staunch supporters of the Second Amendment, but say this bill has nothing to do with gun control.

“I am a gun guy,” Whittington said. “But this doesn’t have anything to do with whether you like guns.”

Louisiana Federation of Teachers President Larry Carter also supports the idea.

“Today toy guns or imitation guns look more like real guns,” Carter said. “And I would not like to see someone get shot or potentially killed because they had an imitation or toy gun.”

Some Louisiana school districts already ban toy guns, but do not impose the strict penalties called for in Horton’s bill.

Horton plans to contact the National Rifle Association regarding the legislation, which is currently under review.