A law proposed in the Florida House of Representatives would prevent children from getting in trouble for simulating a gun while playing, carrying toy guns, or wearing clothing that depicts a firearm at school.
The measure, sponsored by House Judiciary Chairman Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, is backed by the National Rifle Association.
Baxley calls it the “Pop-Tart bill” after a 7-year-old in Maryland was suspended from school last year because he bit his Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun.
Supporters say the law adds common sense to an otherwise zero-tolerance gun policy.
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“Obviously we don’t want firearms brought to school in a backpack,” Baxley said. “But we were definitely having some over-reactions.”
Jordan Bennett, 8, was suspended from a central Florida public school last year for playing cops and robbers, using his thumb and forefinger to mimic a handgun.
Rep. Ronald Renuart, R-Ponte Vedra Beach, said the bill is an important step to reminding teachers and school officials to “take a step back, take a breath and realize that decisions they’re making are really affecting our students.”
The law would prohibit disciplinary action for:
- Brandishing a partially consumed pastry or other food item to simulate a firearm or weapon.
- Possessing a toy firearm or weapon that is two inches or less in overall length.
- Possessing a toy firearm or weapon made of plastic snap-together building blocks.
- Using a finger or hand to simulate a firearm or weapon.
- Vocalizing an imaginary firearm or weapon.
- Drawing a picture of, or possessing an image of, a firearm or weapon.
The NRA says the measure is not about guns.
“This bill is about children, and stopping children from being traumatized when adults lack good common sense or the capacity to make rational judgments,” said NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer. “Zero tolerance should not mean zero common sense. Unfortunately, it seems to.”
The bill was passed unanimously in the House K-12 education subcommittee Wednesday.