- The Washington Times - Friday, April 21, 2000

Perhaps young Jamie Hinderliter could have been sent to the slammer but this time, he's only charged with disorderly conduct.
Earlier this week, the 16-year-old rose to his feet in a rowdy moment on a school bus as it trundled down Baker Street in Rimersburg, Pa.
Jamie was brandishing a gun made of chocolate, which he had purchased at the Union High School Spanish Club fund-raiser.
Mayhem followed.
Bus driver Angelo Salvo made a panic stop in traffic. He raced down the aisle while young passengers howled with glee. Mr. Salvo, however, reported the incident to Clarion County schools Superintendent Robert McWilliams.
"I was not aware or concerned whether it was a toy, candy or anything other than a real weapon that could inflict bodily harm or death to my student passengers," Mr. Salvo noted in a written statement to school officials.
They decided to formally press charges against Jamie Hinderliter for disorderly conduct, which means a likely court appearance and fine.
His foster father James Barger, the county's auditor and Jamie's guardian for the last 18 months, is not pleased.
"I think he should be punished without being fined and made to go to a hearing. They were clowning around on the bus," Mr. Barger told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which covered the story, along with local TV.
Jamie is a "good kid," Mr. Barger said. The school district is overreacting and a better punishment might be a thoughtful essay on guns or violence, he said.
Superintendent McWilliams did not see it that way.
"What we had was a disruption on a bus, which endangered these kids," he said.
Whether bemusing or serious, the incident is another offshoot of zero-tolerance policies against weapons or violent behavior in schools.
In the past few years, children have been expelled or suspended for bringing water pistols, plastic toy shotgun shells, butter knives and even nail clippers to class.
Two weeks ago, a quartet of 5-year-old boys were suspended from a New Jersey elementary school for playing a game of cops and robbers. The board of education, school officials, local politicians and the American Civil Liberties Union eventually became involved, and the situation is still unresolved.
The mistaken chocolate gun made things a tad rocky this week for manufacturer Char-Val Candies, a small rural company which opens its factory to tourists in the picturesque area.
School officials have now banned the fudgy weapon in question from their students. It is no Glock or Sig-Sauer, though. Mr. Barger said it looked like the snub-nosed pistol that "Inspector Henderson carried in the old 'Superman' series" back in the 1950s.
Mr. Barger himself had bought one of them decades ago.
For their part, Char-Val noted they had sold many hundreds of the chocolate guns and offered no official comment.
Meanwhile, chocolate guns are offered by several companies around the country, along with hundreds of other "novelties."
The Chocolate Vault in Tecumsah, Mich., offers chocolate guns, beepers, rats, eyeballs, police badges, coffins and hypodermic needles along with much less fiendish fare.
"If you can think it," they advise, "we can mold it."

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