Florida has wrapped up its 2014 legislative session after passing the so called "Pop-Tart bill." You may ask what a breakfast pastry has to do with firearm legislation. You would not be alone. The bill (HB 7029) is in response to overzealous punishments against children harmlessly simulating gun play, wearing pro-second amendment apparel or forming their food into gun shapes.
The bill's nickname comes from the case of Josh Welch who was doing what any 7-year old might do with his Pop-Tart; he chewed it into the shape of a gun and was subsequently suspended for it. Welch claimed he was merely trying to shape the pastry into a mountain but the act was misconstrued by school administrators.
The NRA backed bill passed the Florida state senate by an overwhelming 32-6 vote and is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott. Similar legislation is being
considered by Ohio and Oklahoma where "zero tolerance" policies have caused
some to question whether anti-gun backlash has gone too far.
In upstate New York, 16 year old Shane Kinney was suspended from school for daring to wear an NRA pro-second amendment t-shirt. Last year, Jared Marcum, an eighth grader from Logan County West Virginia, was arrested for wearing a similar NRA shirt.
The charges were eventually dismissed by a judge.
These examples follow the trend of school faculties to overreact following the Newtown school tragedy of 2012. The Florida bill will protect students from having their school records presently scarred by harmless play or, more importantly, exercising their first amendment rights to self-expression.
The bill reads: "Code of Student Conduct: Provides that simulating firearm or weapon while playing or wearing certain clothing or accessories is not grounds for disciplinary action or referral to criminal justice or juvenile justice system; provides criteria for determining whether certain student conduct warrants disciplinary action; provides criteria for determining appropriate consequences for conduct."
The fact that such legislation is needed says a lot about the knee-jerk reactions many school administrators are displaying in their pursuit of "zero tolerance" policies. The Senate sponsor, Sen. Greg Evers, had a simple reply: It would prevent situations "where you chew a Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun and you are expelled" from school. The treatment received by Josh Welch in Maryland directly propelled the Florida bill. Josh was subsequently given a standing ovation at an NRA banquet where he was awarded a free lifetime membership package.
Hats off to Florida lawmakers for reigning in the non-sensible over-reaching of the