The bill is aimed at easing serious penalties and school suspensions for children who simulate a gun with harmless objects – specifically Pop-Tarts eaten into the shape of a gun, or guns shaped out of toys like Legos.
The bill, cleared by a state House panel Wednesday, would prohibit school districts from suspending students for “brandishing a partially consumed pastry or other food item” bitten into a gun shape or “possessing a toy firearm or weapon made of plastic snap-together building blocks.” The bill also would prevent children from getting into serious trouble for mimicking a gun with their fingers.
Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, Fla., sponsored the bill and said the proposed law is designed to bar “overreactions” under zero-tolerance policies regarding weapons in school.
Baxley coined the phrase “Pop-Tart bill” after an actual case involving the breakfast toaster treat. In May of last year, a boy chewed the pastry into the shape of a pistol, earning him a suspension from school (and a lifetime membership from the NRA).
“This is addressing a zero-tolerance policy that often will not allow people to use common sense because their hands are tied,” commented Florida elementary school teacher Castor Dentel.
Florida’s current law requires school districts to create "zero-tolerance policies" for actions that pose “a serious threat to school safety. At the same time, the zero-tolerance policies are “not intended to be rigorously applied to petty acts.”