Return to common sense

'Zero-tolerance' legislation too often skimps on plain understanding

  • Follow Editorials

Readers from another generation may recall a time when bringing a rifle to school caused no alarm – a time when children, particularly in rural areas, would go hunting before or after school.


Some may remember that up to the early 1980s high schools across the country – even in gun-shy Northeastern states – offered “rifle clubs” for students to learn gun safety and marksmanship skills.

Those days, of course, are long gone and likely never to return. Nearly every school district in America has created “zero tolerance” policies and “gun-free zones” in light of the horrific school shootings that started occurring in the 1990s.

Unfortunately, some administrators and authorities carrying out the rules appear to have also adopted zero tolerance for common sense. Just look at the numerous cases nationwide where children have been expelled – and even arrested – for possessing toys or items that “resemble” weapons or simply using their hands to make a gun gesture.

Who can forget the 7-year-old Baltimore boy suspended for biting a toaster pastry into the shape of a gun? Or the 5-year-old Pennsylvania girl suspended for talking – talking – about playing with a Hello Kitty bubble blower gun? Or the 14-year-old West Virginia boy suspended and arrested for refusing to remove a T-shirt promoting Second Amendment rights?

Closer to home is the case of a suburban Atlanta teen who faced felony charges after school officials found knives in a tackle box locked in his car trunk.

“I go fishing once a week, sometimes twice a week,” said the boy, 17-year-old Cody Chitwood. “I just forgot that it was in there.”

These are not the dangerous children that school-violence laws are supposed to address.

Thankfully, lawmakers nationwide are seeking to put an end to such heavy-handed nonsense by drafting laws to prevent schools from punishing students for harmless behavior.

One such bill, the Common Sense Zero Tolerance Act, drafted by Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern, would ban action against such things as toy weapons (including those made from plastic or wood building blocks), “imaginary” weapons, wearing clothes that promote Second Amendment rights and, specifically, “brandishing a pastry or other food which is partially consumed in such a way that the remnant resembles a weapon.” In Maryland (home of the now-famous Pop Tart Pistol), State Sen. J.B. Jennings has introduced similar legislation.

The Obama administration’s Justice Department and Education Department also are pushing the nation’s schools to abandon what it describes as overzealous discipline policies. That’s great. But a letter the departments sent to school districts recently focuses inordinately on student race instead of the nature of the alleged offense.

“In our investigations, we have found cases where African-American students were disciplined more harshly and more frequently because of their race than similarly situated white students,” the letter stated. “In short, racial discrimination in school discipline is a real problem.”

Before injecting race into the discipline debate, let’s craft better solutions for all students.

Even in this day of political correctness and nannyism, no student – regardless of race – should face disciplinary or criminal charges for possessing a Lego gun or brandishing an L-shaped pastry.

Even though children today aren’t exposed to real guns like their parents and grandparents were, can’t we still at least let them pretend and play innocuously without prosecution?

Comments (40) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
GACopprhed
2136
Points
GACopprhed 01/17/14 - 05:56 am
4
17
With the many, many shootings
Unpublished

With the many, many shootings by and of children that have happened, one just within a few days, it could only be the ACES that suggests this. The answer is NO!

Riverman1
121262
Points
Riverman1 01/17/14 - 07:25 am
11
2
Bam, Bam, Bam Gotcha

Pointing my finger like a gun. Bam, bam, bam...gotcha.

Okay, okay, okay, I’ll stop playing with imaginary guns, but I won’t give up riding my horsey head broomstick and wearing my Roy Rogers cowboy hat. He was king of the cowboys after all.

GACopprhed
2136
Points
GACopprhed 01/17/14 - 07:27 am
2
8
Riverman, I did it, too. I
Unpublished

Riverman, I did it, too. I hate that society has come to this point, but anyone who see the news can see that either kids today are not the same innocent little tykes that were around 50 years ago, when I was 6, or that there is too much access to guns for kids.The solution offered is pretty danged draconian, but unless a better solution comes forth, I think it's the only way to go. My brothers and I played war in our back yard, cowboys and indians and all kinds of other games. Kids just don't think like we did, then, and their impulse control is not what ours was.

ymnbde
14279
Points
ymnbde 01/17/14 - 07:49 am
6
2
automated bullies directed by the government

these "incidents" aren't anomalies
typical big government slogans
chanted by the well-drilled illiterate bully
the education gap stares them in the face every day
and they ignore it, or say the same old feeble slogans
to hide their racist system, or rationalize their failure to educate
are they afraid that if black kids learn to read and write and do arithmetic that they will realize the democratic party has been running one of the biggest scams in history at their expense?
they have the power to educate, and don't
it's much easier to bully a little kid saying bang bang, anyway

corgimom
51771
Points
corgimom 01/17/14 - 08:03 am
5
3
We didn't allow it, either.

We didn't allow it, either. We pounded it in to those kids' heads about never touch a gun, we knew that a bunch of them had access to them because of their parents.

In the school that I was in, a 5th grader brought a gun to school.

All of you have no idea what it is really like in schools today. It is stunning.

Riverman1
121262
Points
Riverman1 01/17/14 - 08:14 am
8
2
Corgimom, you can't lump all

Corgimom, you can't lump all schools together. Lots of differences right here in the CSRA. But I get a feeling at some of the schools with reasonable teachers and administrators these exaggerated punishments never happen. They realize things are off the scale now and use their common sense.

Junior Dawg
310
Points
Junior Dawg 01/17/14 - 08:24 am
6
1
Parenting is the problem

GAC, tykes are the same innocent souls they were 50 years ago. My little girl is the most precious thing in the world. The problem is parenting, or the lack thereof. We need a return to liberty! Banning a gun rack in a kids pickup in a school parking lot is not the answer to our problems. Neither is thinking that minorities are unfairly treated with harsher punishments as quoted in the article. The country needs a resurgence of the family, kids and our society are doomed if we continue with our PC/liberal culture that accepts out of wedlock births and a government program instead of a father.

seenitB4
129171
Points
seenitB4 01/17/14 - 08:44 am
5
1
corgi...I'm sure you are right about this

"All of you have no idea what it is really like in schools today. It is stunning."

But common sense left the building a long time ago....sometimes I think kids should be barred from tv til the age of 12 or so...I know that seems so insane but their minds soak up all of the crap on tv.

Bizkit
47967
Points
Bizkit 01/17/14 - 08:44 am
6
1
Taking guns away doesn't

Taking guns away doesn't solve a problem just reduces peoples freedom. You don't need a gun-pipe bombs, a bat, a bow and arrow, ad infinitum. You could pick up a teachers paper rest and use it as a weapon. It isn't the weapon that needs to be addressed it is violence and how they dehumanize people so they do kill them. If somebody wants somebody dead they will find a way-the problem isn't the way but the will.

carcraft
36215
Points
carcraft 01/17/14 - 08:44 am
5
1
I have had guns in our house

I have had guns in our house since my kids were all tiny. Every one of them learned to shoot and hunt. Taught them guns are dangerous so use common sense and follow a few simple rules. Taught my kids to drive. Cars and trucks are dangerous. Taught them some common sense rules. More teenagers are killed by cars than guns but I don't see the nanny state idiots banning kids from playing with toy cars!

Bizkit
47967
Points
Bizkit 01/17/14 - 08:49 am
4
1
This highlights how

This highlights how incompetent, ineffective, and ignorant govt is in solving problems. As the problem grows with more violent behaviors in our youth rather than address the root problem they are trying to figure a way to limit the harm these agents of destruction will inflict. Sheesh.

dade30906
258
Points
dade30906 01/17/14 - 09:11 am
1
4
Studying saying nearly half of black males get arrested by

age 23. It's wrong.
Here's what a research study feels like to a black male teenager: " to be seen as a person with a name ... then proof! A statistic, and, to many, a shame," said an 11th grader named Asa Fludd. I repeat this quote often to remind social advocates and cultural critics alike that our reckless recital of mind - numbing statistics is a burden to millions of young black men. This week, countless media outlets be moaned a study's findings suggesting that 49 percent of black males and 38 percent of white males have been arrested by the time they turn 23. If you are the parent of a black male, these stats suggest that the hue of your son's skin could make his likelihood of being arrested akin to a coin toss. In reality, parents of white males should also be worried that nearly 40 percent of their son's peer will be marred by a criminal record, but at least they can take solace in the fact that their sons fare better than black males. The Obama administration has legitimate issues related to sentencing disparities and school - based arrest, but this study and the ensuing articles are nothing more than stunts, designed to create sound bites for culture critics, caricatures of young black men and fodder for popular discourage(or righteous indignation).

Bizkit
47967
Points
Bizkit 01/17/14 - 09:21 am
7
1
dade you seem to be implying

dade you seem to be implying that blacks are being discriminated against rather they commit more crimes. STDs take an especially heavy toll on African Americans, particularly young African American women and men. For example, blacks represent just 14 percent of the U.S. population, yet account for approximately half of all reported chlamydia and syphilis cases and almost three-quarters of all reported gonorrhea cases. So is it discrimination they are being "infected" more with STDs?
Blacks are seven times more likely than people of other races to commit murder, and eight times more likely to commit robbery.

Blacks are three times more likely to use a hand gun, and twice more likely to use a knife.

Hispanics commit three times more violent crimes than whites, but the statistics are nebulous because sometimes they are classified as white, so it could be far higher.

The best indicator of violent crime levels in an area is the percent of the population that is black and Hispanic.

Blacks are 39 times more likely to commit a violent crime against whites then vice versa, and 136 times more likely to commit a robbery.

Forty-five percent of black crime is against whites, 43 against other blacks, and 10 percent against Hispanic.

Now is it racist that blacks have this association?

deestafford
47133
Points
deestafford 01/17/14 - 09:34 am
7
1
I don't think the Obama administration has a legitimate...

I don't think the Obama administration has a legitimate complaint about the differences in punishment between black and white students because it is a false argument. How can you say that blacks in a nearly all black school are being punished more often than whites by just looking at numbers?

As everything with the administration is concern it's always about race when the real issue is culture/behavior. The gangsta, thugist behavior tolerated in the black community is carried over onto the school grounds where it is disruptive and not tolerated as it is on the street. When 80% of the black males walking into the school are being raised by a single mother and no consistent male presence is the home to instill discipline you get kids acting up and receiving punishment.

I'm willing to bet if you have a white student and a black student in the same school doing the same thing and having the same disciplinary background the punishments would be the same. However, when you have a justice department led by a white hating bigot thug who gets up every morning wondering where he can find a "racist" problem to jump on you end up with the judicial system that fails to enforce laws on the books and hunts for things that should be handled at the local level. Holder is a reverse racist if there is such a thing...actually a clone of Obama which is why he is the AG.

carcraft
36215
Points
carcraft 01/17/14 - 09:38 am
8
1
Bizkit, and that is because

Bizkit, and that is because many of these families have no fathers to teach them to be men and women. Our brain dead social engineers think single parent homes are just fine. These children then learn to be men and women from the thugs on the corner!

Bizkit
47967
Points
Bizkit 01/17/14 - 09:55 am
5
2
Car you are absolutely right

Car you are absolutely right as studies indicates children do better with two parents (even same sex) than single parent homes. Dems propagate this social engineering-remember a few years ago they got into trouble with some TV ad that depicted blacks as general uneducated and poor, etc and at that time the black community was thriving and growing in wealth so it was offensive. Sadly since Obama has been president the black community has suffered more than any other ethnicity. But that helps Dems come election time-strange as it is. Obama is liar so when he tells the Middle class I'm your friend and I'm gonna help you-prepare for the opposite-you've been duped. Just like with the ACA.

teaparty
11313
Points
teaparty 01/17/14 - 10:02 am
5
5
"The answer is NO!" GAC, The
Unpublished

"The answer is NO!"
GAC, The writer is asking for folks to use common sense. Oh I forgot most liberals do not have any common sense.

curly123053
7247
Points
curly123053 01/17/14 - 10:03 am
5
2
Zero Tolerance Policies Stink!

Zero Tolerance policies do not allow the administrators and police to use common sense and proper reasoning in these case by case incidents. Knowing that a small child meant no harm but still saying you have to prosecute due to "zero tolerance" shows a total lack of common sense in many cases. "Zero tolerance" keeps a teacher or police officer from backing down once they realize the child meant no harm and was just playing, and keeps them from using their common sense in dealing with incidents.
Like the two little boys who were playing cowboys and Indians on the school playground getting suspended for making terroristic threats running around shooting at each other on the playground. Even the school administrators acknowledged these boys were playing a harmless game, but the "zero tolerance" policy said otherwise.
Same goes for the high school kid in Texas 2 years ago who is a little league assistant coach. His little league team had finished a late baseball game the night before and he completely forgot to remove the bag of baseball bats from the trunk of his car. It just so happens that the school and police did random car checks in the parking lot of the high school. When they asked the teen to open his trunk they found the bag of baseball bats and arrested him for bringing "weapons" onto the school grounds. Even after the police investigated and found out the boy's alibi was true, and that he was a little league ball coach who made an innocent mistake bringing the baseball bats to school the police continued to prosecute due to the "zero tolerance" policies!
Zero tolerance policies have as much place in society as being politically correct in my opinion.

teaparty
11313
Points
teaparty 01/17/14 - 10:13 am
6
5
" All of you have no idea
Unpublished

" All of you have no idea what it is really like in schools today. It is stunning."
corgimom, so you are suggesting that you are more informed about 'what it is really like in schools today' than "All of" us ignorant folks. Actually it is easy to see what is going on. The Great Society, liberals/progressives, democrats and black leaders have destroyed a large % of black families and many white families. "All of" us are not as ignorant as you might think.

David Parker
7925
Points
David Parker 01/17/14 - 10:19 am
4
2
Unfortunately, the best

Unfortunately, the best option is home-school. The schools aren't changing for the better in a lot of ways. My hope is the net result is an improvement and not a decline.

myfather15
59559
Points
myfather15 01/17/14 - 10:21 am
5
2
Don't forget

The boy (can't remember where) that was suspended for throwing a make believe hand grenade during recess!!

myfather15
59559
Points
myfather15 01/17/14 - 10:21 am
6
2
God help us please!!!

If we've came to a place in life, where we need legislation that tells Principals and teachers they can't suspend or expel children for toy guns or even mentioning a gun, we are in DEEP trouble!!

This Country does NOT need just one more law!!! We DO need common sense!! Any Principal who suspends or expels a child for just mentioning a gun, SHOULD BE FIRED!!!! They will get the message and stop this non-sense. We SHOULDN"T need legislation from politicians!!

carcraft
36215
Points
carcraft 01/17/14 - 10:22 am
5
2
48 % of teenage deathsare

48 % of teenage deathsare accidents of these 73% are traffic accidents. Next highest cause? 13% homicide.

myfather15
59559
Points
myfather15 01/17/14 - 10:28 am
5
3
GACopprhed

Hey, how did those "Gun-Free Zone" Signs work out in New Mexico???

myfather15
59559
Points
myfather15 01/17/14 - 11:03 am
7
2
GAC

"I hate that society has come to this point, but anyone who see the news can see that either kids today are not the same innocent little tykes that were around 50 years ago"

No, the difference is that liberal ideology has swept this Country!! Discipline is no longer the main practice!! When I was growing up (and it wasn't 50 years ago) my dad had guns everywhere!! He didn't have locks on the triggers, or have them hidden in a safe!! But I darn well knew that If I touched them without his permission, I wouldn't be able to sit down for a WEEK!! Today, he would have been arrested for child abuse!!

This Country has gone INSANE, teaching children the same thing over and over and expecting different results!! Stout discipline is a thing of the past in most households!! Today, it's do whatever feels good!! Today, too many parents are more concerned with their personal interests than raising their children with honor and dignity!!

Guns do NOT kill people and that is not just a saying, it's FACT!! Children indoctrinated with liberal ideology and lowering moral standards, DO kill people with guns!! My dad also didn't refuse us access to guns. From the time I was 7 or 8 I started shooting firearms under his supervision!! Staring with .22 calibers and .410 shotguns and graduating up!! He knew our curiosity would make us want to handle guns, and he allowed it under strict supervision. Therefore, we didn't have such curiosity when he wasn't around. We also knew that if we touched his guns without his permission, he would have used a belt on us AND left marks!! Guess what? It didn't injure us and we certainly didn't break his rules!!

myfather15
59559
Points
myfather15 01/17/14 - 10:59 am
5
3
Corgimom

"All of you have no idea what it is really like in schools today. It is stunning."

Once again, no one has any idea what they're talking about, except her!! Doesn't matter that I've worked the street for 17 years and the Schools!! Doesn't matter what you believe, if you don't believe as she believes, you're wrong!! That sound about right?

myfather15
59559
Points
myfather15 01/17/14 - 11:11 am
6
2
When I was growing up, we

When I was growing up, we actually played WAR during recess!! We would run around and gather sticks, to pretend they were GUNS (gasp!!). We also imitated a very popular TV show then, called "V". Where aliens had invaded the planet and shot people with laser guns (gasp!!). Guess how many schools shootings we had? NONE!! Guess how many we heard about when I was growing up? NONE!! How many school shootings did they have in the Old "Western" days, when is was acceptable for people to walk about town with numerous guns strapped to their sides? None that I'm familiar with!! It's kind of ironic how these school shootings have coincided with the "Great Society" of liberal ideology being indoctrinated into our children in schools!!

Is it possible that it's the spirit of the human being, rejecting liberal ideology??

teaparty
11313
Points
teaparty 01/17/14 - 11:11 am
6
3
"Doesn't matter what you
Unpublished

"Doesn't matter what you believe, if you don't believe as she believes, you're wrong!!"
It seems that many people that lived in CA for any length of time have that attitude.

Little Lamb
56905
Points
Little Lamb 01/17/14 - 11:28 am
2
2
Hmmm

Carcraft posted:

48 % of teenage deaths are accidents. Of these, 73% are traffic accidents. Next highest cause? 13% homicide.

I don't think one should list all those homicides as accidents. Surely some of them were intentional.

David Parker
7925
Points
David Parker 01/17/14 - 11:29 am
4
0
around 1982

I was hit within an inch of my eye during a bb gun war in the woods. It was a lesson I remember to this day. Coddling children until they are adults and thinking they are prepared is short-sighted. Kids must learn lessons from all angles and sometimes they learn it the hard way. There will never be a sterile world for people to live in so teach and learn, learn and teach. On and on, repeat.

Back to Top
loading...
Top headlines

Keg Creek victim identified

Columbia County authorities have identified a Crawford, Ga., man who died after plunging a car into Keg Creek and divers are on the scene to begin searching for a second person who might have been ...
Search Augusta jobs