- Gentlemen, start your drones: Judge’s ruling opens door for commercial use
- Soldier who hid, bragged about not saluting flag to be punished — in secret
- ‘Maverick’ of the seas: ‘Top Gun’ school for U.S. ship officers to launch
- Putin declares Sochi Paralympics open amid Ukrainian protest
- ‘In Jesus name, we pray’ sparks ire at Ohio council meeting
- Navy’s first laser weapon ready for prime time; drone killer to deploy this summer
- Billionaire backer: Rick Santorum ‘needs to be heard’ in 2016
- Obamacare fallout: 49 percent pessimistic; 45 percent ‘scared’
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
- Seattle socialist: Minimum-wage discussion skewed by ‘right-wing’ GAO analysis
Md. bill would end student suspensions for mimicking gun behavior
School administrators around the country are keeping a closer eye on warning signs for gun violence after last year’s mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., but one Maryland lawmaker says the vigilance too often is crossing into the realm of anti-gun hysteria.
Sen. J.B. Jennings, Baltimore County Republican, has introduced a bill that would bar public school principals from suspending young children for carrying pictures or objects resembling guns or for making gunlike hand gestures.
The legislation, which was brought before the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday, comes in response to incidents throughout the nation, including this month’s suspension of a 7-year-old Maryland boy who was accused of chewing a breakfast pastry into the shape of a gun.
Proponents for the bill argued that, while recent gun violence in schools has forced educators to be on the lookout for dangerous signs, many children are being punished and stigmatized for what they consider normal childhood behavior.
“How come zero tolerance has turned into zero common sense?” said B.J. Welch, the father of the Anne Arundel County boy who was suspended for two days for chewing the pastry. “Our country is in a bitter confrontation right now, but it is not something these young children have to be dragged into the middle of.”
Since last December’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in which a gunman killed 20 children and six school employees, the nation has launched into a gun debate that has seen the Obama administration and various state legislatures propose gun control laws and has put many schools on high alert.
In January, a 5-year-old girl in Pennsylvania was suspended from kindergarten for 10 days after officials said she told another girl that she was going to shoot her with her “Hello Kitty” bubble gun, a child’s toy that shoots soap bubbles.
Later that month, a Philadelphia fifth-grader was reprimanded for bringing a piece of paper to school that was folded into the shape of a gun, and in other incidents since in Maryland and Virginia elementary schools students were suspended for making gun gestures with their hands.
“It’s gotten frustrating at home,” Mr. Jennings said. “I’ve got calls from constituents saying, ‘Enough is enough.’”
Mr. Jennings‘ bill would limit the punishment of kindergarten through eighth-grade students who are caught making gun gestures or carrying objects or images that resemble guns to a conference between parents and school personnel. Students older than that would receive a conference and could be suspended after a second offense.
The legislation likely faces an uphill battle to passage since it was just introduced on March 7 and Monday will bring “Crossover Day” — the day by which most bills that have failed to pass their original chamber typically go by the wayside.
Mr. Jennings said the bill could still use some tweaks and that he at least hopes to start a discussion. Several members of the Senate committee were sympathetic and said they believe many school administrators have gotten too politically correct.
Sen. Roy P. Dyson, St. Mary’s Democrat, lamented how his county’s school district recently implemented a policy in elementary schools banning homemade cake due to the threat of food allergies and prohibiting hugs between adults and students.
The district also banned party invitations in elementary schools out of concern that uninvited children’s feelings could be hurt.
“I don’t know where we need to go with this, but it seems like we have gone so far to the other extreme,” Mr. Dyson said. “We’ve got to find something just to kind of bring us back.”
The bill is far from the most visible gun-related in this year’s General Assembly. A gun control bill proposed by Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley has cleared the Senate but is stuck in a House committee that is considering softening its restrictions on so-called assault weapons.
The House Judiciary Committee could vote on the bill in coming days along with the House Health and Government Operations Committee, which is also vetting the bill.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
David Hill joined The Washington Times in February 2011 as a Maryland political reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Md. drivers could face eventual doubling of gas tax
- Federal appeals court restores Maryland's concealed carry law
- Md. bill would end student suspensions for mimicking gun behavior
- Maryland Senate passes bill decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana
- Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell assailed on transportation
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
- CPAC 2014: Rand Paul urges conservatives to fight for liberty
- Putin has transformed Russian army into a lean, mean fighting machine
- Soldier who hid to avoid saluting the flag to be punished in secret; Army won't release details
- EDITORIAL: Connecticut revolts against gun controls that could criminalize 300,000
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- Bill Clinton cashes in on struggling nonprofit hospital
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- EDITORIAL: Harry Reid's corrupt Senate house of cards
- Russias Putin nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again