An Oklahoma lawmaker introduced a bill that would stop schools from punishing kids who have toy guns under the “Common Sense Zero Tolerance Act.”
Rep. Sally Kearn (R-Oklahoma City) proposed the legislation to stop schools from bullying or punishing students for producing anything that looks remotely like a gun, including Pop-Tarts and Lego guns, all grounds for punishment under the reigning “zero tolerance” policy.
The bill would allow kids to take toy weapons to school if they are smaller than five inches and made out of plastic or wood blocks. It states that teachers and administrators cannot "punish, humiliate, intimidate, be condescending to, or bully a student" who has a toy gun, or who makes gun sounds, shapes their hand like a gun, or draws a gun.
"Real intent, real threats and real weapons should always be dealt with immediately. We need to stop criminalizing children's imagination and childhood play," Kern said.
"If there's no real intent, there's no real threat, no real weapon, no real harm is occurring or going to occur, why in the world are we in a sense abusing our children like this."
The legislation comes in response to incidents such as the two-day school suspension of a Maryland second grader for biting his strawberry breakfast pastry into the shape of a gun, or the disciplining of a Masschusetts kindergartener for bringing a two-inch Lego gun on the school bus.
Not all parents agree that the law is a good idea, arguing that kids don’t know the difference between real and fake and might pick up the wrong messages from playing with toy guns.
“It can confuse them. They don't get it. They're just babies. They don't understand what a real gun can do," said one Oklahoma parent, Kay Normand.
But Kern disagrees.
“This bill is just to protect children as they innocently play," she said.