Guns are bad. Guns are scary. All guns. All the time.
At least, that’s what school officials at Southeast Elementary in Brighton, Colo., seem to think.
The news broke last week that officials suspended a five-year-old kindergartener for bringing a plastic bubble gun to school and firing three-bubble bursts in the hallway. The battery-powered, blue and yellow gun featured an eight-pound trigger and a Frozen princess bubble canister.
The girl’s mother, Emma, said she was shocked when she received the call to pick up her daughter.
“If they had contacted me and said can you make sure this doesn’t happen again, we just want you to be aware, I think that would have been a more appropriate way to handle the situation,” she told Denver’s KDVR.
“It’s a shame because it’s the end of the school year, and it’s kind of ending on a bad note now,” she continued. “And she didn’t deserve that. She didn’t deserve a punishment like that.”
School officials cited a policy that prohibits the “carrying, using, actively displaying or threatening with the use of a firearm facsimile that could reasonably be mistaken for an actual firearm on district property.”
They failed in their official statement to explain how the bubble gun in question could ever be reasonably mistaken for an actual firearm.
“That’s a silly reason not to go to school,” the girl’s mother told KDVR. “What bugs me is this is going to be something they can refer to if we have any issues in the future which I don’t foresee, but it’s always going to be lingering there in her school file.”
Emma wasn’t the only one baffled by the punishment.
“It’s absurd to send a 5-year-old home for a bubble-maker,” Nathan Woodliff, executive director of ACLU of Colorado, told ABC affiliate KMGH. “This is a silly example of a very real problem.
“Zero-tolerance policies often mean zero common sense.”
The Washington Post notes that zero-tolerance policies like the one used by Southeast Elementary have come under fire in recent years. The number out-of-school suspensions has risen, as students are sent home for pointing their fingers like guns and nibbling pastries into the shape of guns.
The NRA has gone to bat for mothers like Emma, helping to enact legislation like Florida’s “Right to be a Kid Act.” The Act, according to the NRA-ILA, targets some of the worst abuses, by making clear that “Simulating a firearm or weapon while playing or wearing clothing or accessories that depict a firearm or weapon or express an opinion regarding a right guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is not grounds for disciplinary action or referral to the criminal justice or juvenile justice system.”