The nation is fresh off the gun debate due to the Tuscon shooting. The debate is lousy and the maniac should and will be punished to the full extent of the law. One could say we are all a little sensitive at the moment. That said, lack of common sense should stay with the crazies.
On January 18th, a seven-year-old boy, described by his school officials as “a good student” and a “good kid,” brought a Nerf-like toy into school. At his New Jersey school, the Hammonton Early Childhood Education Center, the young child allegedly shot the weapon’s ping-pong type soft balls.
As a follow-up, the school contacted the Hammonton Police to investigate this further. The school district has a zero tolerance policy with imitation firearms in educational institutions. The police charged him for violating this, which is a misdemeanor and minor juvenile offense.
I put myself in the pint-sized shoes of the seven-year-old. He likely just learned to and is still working on his single digit arithmetic and settings his Ps apart from his Qs. He probably enjoys cartoons on Saturdays and ice cream for dinner. I can definitely tell you that he is naïve to a fault: no concept of the justice system and definitely no clue of the stigma of things with triggers. A toy is a toy is a toy is a toy…
About every other day at work, I feel a soft hit at the top of my head. I turn around as quick as I can and throw the nearest object back at my colleague. He has an egregiously sized automatic Nerf gun that he keeps in his desk. He brings it out to ease the most malaise moments in the afternoon. If someone thinks this will eventually lead to me or him going postal, that someone is probably the likeliest candidate that needs to be locked up.
While of course, I have no idea if this boy had malicious intent behind his shot. Yet even if he did, there is no reason to call the authorities to investigate and prosecute. This should have been dealt simply and swiftly by placing the toy back in his backpack. The teacher should have written a note to the parent and left it as so. The kid doesn’t deserve to miss out on finger painting and lima bean growing any longer. What the child did is no different than him playing cowboys and Indians/Native-Americans or cops and robbers with his thumb and index finger. Toy guns just make it more realistic. They demonstrate powerful lessons. If you get hit, it is game over.
Zero-tolerance policies are definitely effective when the highest form of punishment is necessary. Yet, very rarely is that the case. A seven-year-old elementary student should never be given the same judicial processes of an 18-year-old high schooler. Children need to be treated like children by their parents and teachers. No one else.
Children are children. We should give them the dignity of youth for at least a few more years. I would not doubt that more damage has been done to his development of trust in authority than his concept of the appropriate use of toys. If the school district had any common sense, it would drop this whole case before it loses all credibility to educate and inform our leaders of tomorrow.
While doing reading for this piece, I came across an article in the Daily Mail out the UK. To illustrate what a toy gun looks like, they used an image of a suped-up Nerf pistol with hundreds of dollars of after-market firearm accessories ranging from a grip, light, laser and scope. I am pretty sure a seven-year-old couldn’t even hold something that heavy. The boy’s gun in question cost less than $5.
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