Nevada Bill Addresses ‘Zero-Tolerance’ Overreach

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posted on May 28, 2015
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A measure that injects some welcomed common sense into the ridiculous extremes taken by some school districts and law enforcement agencies regarding firearms zero tolerance policies is headed to the Governor of Nevada, where it is expected to be signed into law.

In a 15-6 vote on May 22, the Nevada Senate approved AB 121, which permits students in kindergarten through the eighth grade to bring a small toy gun to school, draw pictures of guns, point their finger like a gun or even brandish “a partially consumed pastry or other food item to simulate a firearm” without fear of discipline of reprisal from authorities. The Nevada Assembly approved the measure in a 24-17 vote.

The so-called “Pop Tart Bill” awaits the signature of Gov. Brian Sandoval (R).

The measure’s moniker is derived from the well-publicized 2013 incident occurring in Baltimore, Md. in which a 7-year-old boy was suspended from school after he chewed his breakfast food into a shape his teacher claimed resembled a gun, pointed it at a classmate and said, “bang! bang!” There were prior and subsequent episodes across the country in which students faced discipline and even expulsion for drawing pictures of guns, pointing fingers like a gun and using other firearm pantomime.

In 2014, Florida lawmakers passed the nation’s first bill directly addressing the Maryland Pop Tart incident. Nevada’s AB 121 specifically lists gun-related actions that will be protected by the new law, including:
Doodling a gun or dangerous weapon on a sheet of paper.
Twirling a pencil like a cowboy handling his revolver.
Simulating a gun with building blocks.
Wearing clothes depicting firearms or expressing an opinion regarding the constitutional right to bear arms.

The bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Jim Wheeler (R-Minden) said the measure was necessary in today’s environment of “political correctness taken too far.”

Nevada’s largest newspaper agreed. “The state shouldn’t need laws that mandate common sense. But the ridiculous overreach of ‘zero tolerance’ school rules that fail to distinguish between toy weapons and real ones, between make believe and real threats, between first graders and teenagers, has forced the Nevada Legislature to bypass school boards in pursuit of a badly needed statewide disciplinary policy.” Stated an editorial in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We wish the bill went a bit further and covered squirt guns as well. But, as written, AB121 is a reasonable approach to unreasonable school discipline that brings unnecessary stress to students and families…and Gov. Brian Sandoval should sign it into law.”

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