Civil Liberties

Kid With Laser Pointer Suspended Under Weapons Policy, Because Lasers = Guns


U.S. Navy

Reason readers know that students can get in trouble for bringing guns to school (even accidentally). They can also get in trouble for writing clearly fictional stories that mention guns. They can also get in trouble for folding paper airplanes and chewing Pop-Tarts in such a way that the airplanes or delicious pastries resemble a gun. "Lookalike" weapons are banned along with actual weapons in most school districts.

Laser pointers also count as "lookalike" weapons, according to a Westville, Indiana, school that suspended a 13-year-old boy for allegedly waving one in the school parking lot. According to The NWI Times:

As it turned out, the 13-year-old boy was in possession of a laser pointer, which police view as dangerous even if it's not shaped like a firearm.

"They are very dangerous in and of themselves, but anytime you have anything that looks like a firearm it's obviously a danger and would be considered a credible threat,"  said LaPorte County police Capt. Mike Kellems.

Very dangerous? Really? As far as I can tell, no one has ever been killed by a laser. They might be annoying, and you're not supposed to aim them at planes, but there's no way they are "obviously" dangerous or a "credible threat."

The way the kid was caught is also telling. According the news story, no one actually saw him with what was definitely a laser. Rather, a nosy parent saw him holding "something she believed was a gun." She went to the authorities—of course—and police searched the kid's locker, finding nothing. Then the cops asked the boy's mother, and she offered his laser pointer as a possible explanation. The naive mother probably thought that would get him off the hook.

The police didn't charge the kid with a crime, though he was suspended for a full week. As far as "lookalike weapon" incidents go, that's actually a fairly light punishment.