"Real intent, real threats and real weapons should always be dealt with immediately. We need to stop criminalizing children's imagination and childhood play," explained [state Rep.] Sally Kern, Republican from Oklahoma City.
"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."...
House Bill 2351 states schools shall not "punish, humiliate, intimidate, be condescending to, or bully a student" who has "possession of a toy weapon."
It also prevents schools from punishing students "using a finger or hand to simulate at weapon," "vocalizing imaginary firearms" or "drawing a picture of a firearm."
One common complaint about zero tolerance policies is that they're inflexible—that by imposing an absolute prohibition, they erase the sort of discretion that allows officials to distinguish genuinely dangerous behavior from harmless play. The Oklahoma bill's opponents are trying to turn that argument around, claiming that Kern's legislation would do something similar:
[T]he Oklahoma Education Association isn't on board with Kern's proposed law.
"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," explained O.E.A President Linda Hampton.
The text of the proposed law is here. It's entertaining reading, because it spells out in intricate detail just what those degreed professionals would be prohibited from punishing, from "Vocalizing imaginary firearms or munitions" to "Brandishing a pastry or other food which is partially consumed in such a way that the remnant resembles a weapon."
Bonus link: "5 Ridiculous School Security Scares."