The arrests of several students who unwittingly and accidentally violated school weapon policies has some Georgian lawmakers saying “zero tolerance” makes zero sense.
A Cobb County high school senior was charged with the felony of bringing weapons into a school zone after police found fishing knives in a tackle box in his car. Cody Chitwood, a 17-year-old student at Lassiter High School and avid fisherman, turned himself in and was released on $1,000 bond.
Police were performing a random sweep, and drug-sniffing dogs detected black powder in Chitwood’s car. The powder was residue from a firecracker that had been in the car since Fourth of July, but it was enough to a warrant a full search that turned up the fishing-related weaponry.
“It’s pretty ridiculous,” said Chitwood in a statement to The Marietta Daily Journal. “I have an attorney and I’m hoping to get the felony dropped so I can still get in the Air Force.”
If the district attorney decides to prosecute, Chitwood could face two to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Lassiter High School did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Andrew Williams, a senior at nearby Allatoona High, received an identical felony charge after an assistant principal searched his car and found a knife. The official conducted the search after another student suggested that Williams had been smoking marijuana in his car. No drugs were found — just the knife.
Several state legislators say enough is enough.
“The public expects the same good common sense they use every day of their lives to apply to the laws of our state, and we as legislators seek nothing less,” said Republican state Rep. Ed Setzler, in a statement to The Marietta Daily Journal. “We’ll inspect the current state of the law, but our school leaders don’t like it, our law enforcement doesn’t like it, and we’re finding out the citizens who understand the current state of the law certainly don’t like it.”
Zero tolerance policies, overzealous prosecution of weapons violations and general gun hysteria have landed hundreds of unwitting kids in big trouble. Two Virginian seventh graders were recently expelled after playing with airsoft guns on private property near a school bus stop. (RELATED: School expels kid who played with airsoft gun on own property)