One Oklahoma lawmaker wants to put an end to school suspensions over toy guns.
Last week, Republican state legislator Sally Kern proposed a bill that would make sure students could not be punished for bringing small toy guns to school, chewing pastries into the shape of guns or wearing clothing that expresses support for the Second Amendment.
The proposal, titled the “Common Sense Zero Tolerance Act,” is designed to prevent school districts from punishing, humiliating, intimidating or bullying a student over representations of fake guns, according to its description.
The proposition comes after a slew of highly publicized gun-related school suspensions. The bill’s call for schools not to punish students who chew pastries into the shape of weapons is ostensibly a reference to a 2013 incident involving a 7-year-old boy who was suspended after nibbling a Pop Tart into the shape of a pistol. Additionally, in recent months there have been cases of students being punished for using their fingers to represent fake guns and bringing small cap guns into school.
Kern recently told Oklahoma outlet KWTV why she thinks the bill is necessary.
"If there's no real intent, there's no real threat, no real weapon, no real harm is occurring or going to occur, why in the world are we in a sense abusing our children like this," said Kern, who is a former educator.
On the other hand, the Oklahoma Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, has come out against the proposal.
"I fully trust Oklahoma educators to handle student discipline in an appropriate case-by-case manner. The proposed legislation removes local control from teachers, counselors, administrators and local school boards. Educators are degreed professionals, trained and experienced in dealing with children," union President Linda Hampton explained, according to the outlet.
Responses to the proposed bill are mixed among parents.
"It's their toys. If they're allowed to play with them at home then that's up to the parent to control," local parent Myrtle Viewins told KOKH-TV.
However, another parent disagreed.
"It's a threat still, to the teachers to the other students. It can show potentially what goes on at home," Tameika Gaines told the station.