GOP bill would defund schools that punish students for playing with imaginary guns

Caroline May | Reporter

Texas Republican Rep. Steve Stockman wants to put an end to schools punishing students for brandishing imaginary weapons, and introduced a bill on Monday to curtail abuses made by overzealous schools.

“So-called ‘zero-tolerance’ weapons policies in federally-funded schools are being used to outlaw harmless expressions of childhood play,” Stockman’s bill, H.R. 2625 “To protect the rights of children” reads. The bill states that the zero-tolerance policies “are being used to teach children to be afraid of inanimate objects that are shaped like guns.”

Stockman’s legislation would strip federal funding from schools and other educational institutions if they punish a student for playing with imaginary guns.

The bill comes in the wake of a flurry of news reports detailing young students who have been punished for things like using their fingers as imaginary guns, bringing a Lego-sized toy gun on a school bus and chewing a Pop Tart into the shape of a gun.

Stockman lists some of the instances of such punishment in his legislation, including a school in Grand Island, Nebraska that demanded a deaf 3-year-old change his name because the sign language resembled a gun, a Colorado boy suspended for throwing an imaginary hand grenade and a 14-year-old Kentuckian suspended for wearing an NRA t-shirt.

“This government-sanctioned political correctness is traumatizing children and spreading irrational fear,” the bill reads.

Should the bill become law, educational institutions would lose funding if they punish students for doing such things as: “brandishing a pastry or other food which is partially consumed in such a way that the remnant resembles a gun,” 
”possession of a toy gun which is two inches or less,”
 “possession of a toy gun made of plastic snap together building blocks,” “using a finger or hand to simulate a gun,” “vocalizing imaginary firearms or munitions,”
 “wearing a T-shirt that supports Second Amendment rights,”
 “drawing a picture of, or possessing an image of, a firearm,” or
 “using a pencil, pen or other writing utensil to simulate a firearm.”

The bill has been referred to the Committee on Education and the Workforce.

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