Editorial: Overreaction on many levels
Given the recent violence and tragedies involving guns coming out of Florida, we can understand that lawmakers in Tallahassee would be constantly looking for ways to make their state safer ... while also keeping the Second Amendment in mind and protecting the rights of gun owners.
But there’s such a thing as taking the wrong approach for the right reasons — and that’s what Florida is doing with what has become known as the “Pop Tart bill.”
The legislation, recently approved by the Florida Senate’s Education Commission, looks to protect public school children from facing disciplinary or legal action should they simulate the shooting of a gun with their fingers, or draw a weapon — or create a toy version out of, say, building blocks. The Florida House has passed a similar measure,
This is in reaction to an incident in Maryland where a 7-year-old boy was suspended after he chewed his school lunch Pop Tart into the shape of a gun. This isn’t an isolated response — other children across the country have been disciplined by school officials for making a shooting gesture with their fingers or pretending to have guns while playing cops and robbers on the playground.
We agree with lawmakers who think that some schools — frantically trying to cope with recent school shootings — have gone overboard in extending their zero tolerance for violence policies to include punishing children for this kind of typical childhood behavior.
We’re seeing too many instances where common sense and good judgment by adults have been taken out of the equation and replaced with dogmatic insistence on black-and-white rules. Many of the instances we’ve heard about, we think, would be better handled by a one-on-one explanation about why pretending to shoot someone might not be a good choice.
We would like to think that what is motivating Florida lawmakers is a desire to keep schools from stop going overboard.
We suspect there are legislators, however, who are more concerned about making a political statement on gun rights than protecting the rights of children. Whatever the motivation, creating this sort of legislation is an overreaction.
Whether in the school’s central office or in the legislative chamber, cooler, calmer heads should prevail.