Florida Bill: No More Punishing Kids for Playing With Imaginary Guns

“Pop-Tart Bill” named for a student who was suspended after he chewed a Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun


Last year, 8-year-old Jordan Bennett was suspended from his Florida public school for playing “cops and robbers.” Bennett’s playacting, which involved miming a gun with his hands, violated his school’s hysterical zero tolerance policy against firearms-related images.

Photo from the Armed Toy Gun March on D.C
Photo from the Armed Toy Gun March on D.C. Credit: EPA.

There has been a nationwide rash of similar incidents in the last 12 months, including the case of a 6-year-old South Carolina girl who was expelled for possessing a plastic toy gun. The South Carolina school district informed the girl that she would be “subject to the criminal charge of trespassing” if she ever returned to the school.

In response, Dennis Baxley, a Republican state representative in Florida, has introduced a bill to protect children from similarly capricious and deranged punishments. Baxley has dubbed the bill the “Pop-Tart Bill” in reference to a Maryland student who was suspended for chewing a pop-tart into a shape resembling a gun.

The bill would prohibit schools from taking disciplinary action for a range of possible infringements including vocalizing gun sounds, using hands to simulate a weapon, possessing a toy firearm made of legos, possessing a toy firearm that is smaller than two inches in length, and possessing a food item that resembles a firearm in shape.

The bill has received the support of the House K-12 Subcommittee, which includes several educators. At least one of the subcommittee’s members is a Democrat.



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