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.

man with awesome nerf machine gun
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.

Extra:

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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  • Michelle

    This is absurd and I agree 100% with the The Simpleton. This is another classic example of how spineless people in positions of power refuse to evaluate the circumstances and find a logical solution but would rather “ban” and “punish.”

    Dr. Dan Blachford’s comments are laughable. To think a zero-tolerance policy that punishes a little kid with a Nerf gun is going to deter a kid bringing a 9MM to school is a joke. It is the parents that are responsible for teaching their children the difference between right and wrong. If a kid is playing with a Nerf gun at home and brings it to school, send him to the principal or send him home for all I care. If the kid is brings a 9MM to school, call the police and lock up the parents.

    Final advice: Don’t let Dr. Dan Blachford raise your children, especially if you like Nerf guns. I heard he wants them banned from the market.

  • Bill

    This is ridiculous. I would enjoy knowing what toy gun he owned that was so menacing. Since it launched pong balls I highly doubt the gun looked real. I also feel offering counseling, because of this incident, to be insulting. What about all the adults who enjoyed cops and robbers? What about all the kids who play with toys after school? I guess we all needed help? Save the counseling for people who actually need it. There was no evidence he was threatening anyone anyway. This story turns my stomach. I truly feel hurt for this whole family. To think a 7 year old is being treated like a criminal for such pointless reasons. America is going downhill.

  • Niko

    Eh…uh, well…I have nothing good to say about this….

  • I don’t understand how the police could charge him with a crime? Just because the school has a zero tolerance policy, that doesn’t mean he broke any laws. How and why were the police involved?

    Zero tolerance on toy guns is interesting too. How would they define a gun? Those nerf toys are a far stretch from anything resembling a real gun. If a kid uses his thumb and pointer finger to make a toy gun, would he also be prosecuted? What about a stick?

    Where is the ACLU on cases like this? I thought they were supposed to defend our freedoms? Especially for innocent kids. You know the parents of the child can’t afford to fight the school district and the police department.