• Thu, Feb 6 - 5:30 pm ET

Floridians Love Their Guns So Much They’re Fighting For A Student’s Right To Fashion One Out Of A Pop-Tart

163230059I knew Floridians loved their guns – I just didn’t know that loved extended to the baked goods variety. Florida legislators are working to keep students from getting in serious trouble for simulating a weapon with objects like Pop Tarts, their fingers or anything else their little minds can conceive.

They are referring to it as the “Pop Tart” bill, after the case of the Maryland student who chewed a Pop Tart into the shape of a gun and was suspended. Maybe he shouldn’t have been suspended for that – but I’m more alarmed that the NRA  rallied around him. I shouldn’t be surprised by this, because gun. They gave the boy a lifetime membership. I wish I was kidding.

The bill would bar schools from suspending students for using their flourishing imaginations to form mock instruments of death. While I think it’s ridiculous to suspend a student for basically nibbling on a toaster pastry – I do like the zero tolerance stance against “guns” of any kind. Rules are rules – if you make a rule that a child can’t fashion a mock weapon out of anything – than he or she can’t fashion a weapon out of anything. Why rally behind this anymore than you would rally behind eating in class or screaming in the halls or any other stupid thing that could get a child suspended?

From USA Today:

It would prevent students from facing disciplinary action for wearing clothes that depict guns or “express an opinion regarding a right guaranteed by the Second Amendment.” It would allow administrators to take action if a toy disrupts learning or poses a legitimate threat.

“This is addressing a zero-tolerance policy that often will not allow people to use common sense because their hands are tied,” said Castor Dentel, who has taught at several Central Florida elementary schools.

I get that this could veer into the ridiculous. I am just inclined to support a no-tolerance policy when it comes to something as serious as guns and gun violence.

(photo: Getty Images)

You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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  • Kelly

    Why should a kid get suspended for cutting a pop tart into the shape of a gun?

    Are you seriously supporting a “no common sense” approach to dealing with guns?

    • SJ

      I agree, it sounds more like the author doesn’t support common sense “because gun”.

    • brebay

      This is an issue that the school board should be addressing, not the legislature, what a freaking waste of time and money.

    • Alexandra

      Agree with most of these comments. Let’s all lose our common sense. Medical negligence (not accidents, NEGLIGENCE) kills more people a year than guns. I’m on a different bandwagon, sorry.

    • Givemeabreak

      Yes she is because Maria HATES guns, and people that use guns, like guns, have seen a gun, own guns and on and on. She also likes to insinuate that people that DO have guns are reckless, violent, unintelligent and uneducated. Which is why I don’t read about 90% of her aricles anymore. That and she has a serious dispassion for anyone Christian.

    • Guest

      Agree 100%. Also her bitterness at her life or financial situation comes through every time I happen I read something by her.

    • guest

      Maria is my favorite. I just thought I would add that :)

    • Bethany Ramos

      I second that!

    • K

      I generally like Maria, but I am over the gun articles she writes. I’m probably just going to avoid those articles from now on. I have a gun, so I feel like I’d be blanketed under those judgments if we ever met.

    • Maria Guido

      My sister is a police officer, my brother is a sergeant major in the army and I’ve never mentioned what religion I practice – so WRONG.

    • hypocrite

      Wow, how sad is that. Especially since one of your articles you stated that you don’t/won’t allow your children into homes with guns. I feel bad that your children aren’t allowed to go visit your siblings in their homes.

    • Momma425

      If you take ANYTHING L shaped and point it at someone, it looks like a gun. Be it a cookie, pop tart, piece of paper, bended straw…
      Let the child go back to school and stop wasting time and money on this nonsense.
      We get it, Maria hates guns. Let’s have 908234890172093478109283470128937 posts on mommyish all about Maria hates guns and about how every parent who owns one is irresponsible and about how we should suspend children for even saying the word gun. *rolls eyes*

  • Blooming_Babies

    No, nope, no way. I would flip out if my child was suspended from school for pretending his pop tart was a gun. It’s a child with a pastry and should be treated that way.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      “Treated that way” means me taking away their pastry gun and eating it right?

    • Alexandra

      YUM pop tarts…….
      Would they similarly be suspended for making “pop tart boobs” under the theory that that would be pornography?

  • Mystik Spiral

    So Florida legislators really have nothing better to do than draft bills like this? Really?

  • Carolina

    Zero tolerance leads to idiocy. A kid shouldn’t be suspended (or disciplined) for a pretend weapon, be it a made our of a pastry, stick or tinker toy. Kids often like to turn anything into a weapon. It’s normal and shouldn’t be penalized. Idiotic rules won’t make anyone safer.

    • AP

      I was working with two preschoolers on Monday who were shouting “Boobies!” On Wednesday, it was “butt.” Are they sexual harassers, or 5 and giggly?

      (For the record, I said “That word has nothing to do with swim lessons, so we’re not going to use it.”)

  • brebay

    Wow, the economy in Florida is one of the worst, there is a HUGE prescription drug ring issue, invasive snakes destroying the ecosystem, immigration, medicare fraud, unemployment, illegal drug trafficking…and your elected representatives are writing what is basically a “redneck re-election bill.” This is what you’re paying for, Florida.

    • Paul White

      To be fair, it isn’t like a nearly unanimously passed bill takes very long or cost very much to pass. I think most folks would be shocked at how many bills are frequently passed very quickly with no dissent or argument.

    • Tinyfaeri

      I dunno, I keep waiting for Congress to manage to argue over a bill confirming water is wet.

  • Rachel Sea

    Zero-tolerance rules are all stupid, preventing all common sense and accountability, punishing children for making harmless mistakes, and shutting down rational teaching of social standards and discipline.

    Zero tolerance rules get kids expelled for accidentally having a lego gun in their jacket, or telling their teacher that they accidentally brought their boy scout multi-tool in their backpack, or that their parent packed a butter knife in their lunch, or biting a pop-tart into the shape of a mountain but being bad at it so that a teacher thought it looked like a gun, or prohibiting a Deaf child from using his own name, because the sign for his name used finger guns.

    Zero-tolerance rules teach kids that rules irrational, and that authority figures can not be trusted to use their own judgement, and those are not things we should be teaching kids.

    • libraryofbird

      Your last line is perfection.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      I had a student once that brought a pocketknife (small one) and told people about it–which is dumb because if you brought one and no one knew, keep your mouth shut, right? And when prinicipals looked into it he had done it a few times before….which sounds scary because he’d been punished, so he should damnwell know the rules. Except that he would do it around the times of the schoolyear when it would get a little boring and he wanted a little vacation of 10 days or so. Not so much a psychopath, but an evil genius who’d learned to play the zero tolerance policy. Not that in any way I’m saying bringing a knife to school is okay. just thought this was a bizzare anecdote.

    • Rachel Sea

      That kid is going to go far.

    • Alexandra

      He’ll probably be a millionaire by now! *SMH*

    • Tinyfaeri

      Well said!

    • Maria Guido

      There’s plenty of zero-tolerance rules at schools – you can’t eat in class, you can’t set foot off campus – at my middle school you could get suspended for running in the halls. I have no idea why people think we don’t give students directives they have to follow all the time – we do.

    • Rachel Sea

      Those aren’t zero-tolerance rules though. If a teacher saw you running in a hall and didn’t report you, could they get fired? Could you be suspended for running for help? Could a diabetic child eat a piece of candy to counteract a blood-sugar dip? If a child draws a picture of sneaking off campus, are there automatically consequences?

      Lots of rules are in place all the time for health, safety, and maximizing education, but almost all of them give the teachers and administration leeway to respond as they see fit, depending upon the individual child, and the circumstances surrounding the infraction. Zero-tolerance rules prescribe a set punishment regardless of whether there may have been a reasonable explanation for the breach, and do not allow exceptions, and that is a problem.

  • Gangle

    While I think it is ridiculous to suspend a child for making a gun-shaped pop-tart, I think it is even more ridiculous that time, money and resources are being spent on a special bill over it.

    • Maria Guido

      THANK YOU. Florida has fucking giant pythons on the loose, meth-heads galore and is one of the hungriest states in the country – but let’s spend our time doing this.

    • Gangle

      It sounds extreme, Maria. I totally get what you are saying. It isn’t that you care if kids are making toy guns out of treats or whatever.. but it seems an awful lot like some sort of political stunt by some gun nutters to prove some sort of point. And for any government anywhere on the planet, this seems like a disgusting waste of time and resources when there are always actual important things needing doing.

  • Don

    Gee. Maria Guido has a ridiculous opinion about something involving guns. There’s a giant surprise. You know that school in MD actually called in a trauma counselor to deal with any PTSD symptoms that the poor kids who were menaced with the pop tart gun might be experiencing? Something tells me Maria’s kids would need the trauma counselor if someone pointed a gun shaped cookie at them, and she probably would too. Give me a break.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      SRSLY? That’s fucking bullshit.

      If you raise a kid who is traumatized by food in the shape of a gun then your spechul snowflake needs to go visit a cancer ward or something.

      That being said, I don’t LIKE guns either. IDC who owns one, as long as they keep it locked up and far away from me.

    • sri

      I’m not sure if the kid is a speshul snoflake in all circumstances, though. When I was subbing as a kindergarten aide, a little boy (without any provocation and in the middle of sharing time) held up his fingers at a girl and shouted “bang! I shot you! You’re dead now!” To which the little girl started bawling. The teacher had to call the school counselor to talk to her. Apparently, someone in her family had committed some sort of gun violence and the girl saw it happen. Because the counselor talked to her about it, they offered services to all of the students that he “shot.” So, she wasn’t traumatized by a finger, she was traumatized by an actual gun, the finger just set her off.

    • Maria Guido

      That’s not any more ridiculous than the NRA taking up the kid’s cause and giving him a lifetime membership.

  • Bria

    I’m more inclined to support common sense than zero tolerence

  • Kat

    This is, in fact, ridiculous. I’m sorry. I don’t like guns either, but this is just over the top. It’s a frickin’ Poptart, and anyway, by that logic, we might as well not even let the kids have Poptarts anymore. Why stop there? I can rip a piece of paper into the shape of a gun.

    Commence paper ban. Go.

  • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

    IDK, but a pop tart gun sounds really delicious

    • Robotic Arms Dealer

      Sounds like a bang!

  • A

    This zero tolerance approach is no different than teaching abstinence as sex ed.
    I’m thinking best scenario is while kids are in that “guns are cool I’m going to pretend to shoot my friend and now he’s dead” stage of being CHILDREN, we keep them away from guns. Not to pretend guns don’t exist.

  • ZbornakSyndrome

    I gotta say, the kids I babysat who’s parents wouldn’t allow gun/military toys would make guns out of ANYTHING. Branches, fingers, Barbies – anything they could point, would fire a little imaginary bullet. If my kid was suspended for an act of pastry violence, I’d be pretty pissed. I wouldn’t involve the NRA, but I admit, I’d probably bring a poptart gun to the meeting with the principal and say “pew, pew, pew” while they lectured me on the dangers of cherry-filled drive-bys.

  • Paul White

    It’s a reaction to a stupid, over the top event that’s seeking to prevent it from happening again.
    I don’t get being upset about it.

  • SusieD

    I’m confused by Maria’s article. So she doesn’t think a kid should be suspended for creating a pastry gun, but she doesn’t like the idea of making a law that would prevent a kid from being suspended for creating a pastry gun? That’s almost as silly as suspending a kid for creating a pastry gun.
    Also, I have zero tolerance for zero tolerance rules.

    • guest

      It’s an unnecessary law, a waste of time, and indicative of a Floridian kind of paranoid schizotypal-ness, is the point of the article. It would be less interesting if other states, especially a varied sample of them, did this too.

    • AlbinoWino

      I think it has more to do with why are should lawmakers go out of their way to create a law to make things super gun friendly for kids in school. I don’t agree with getting a kid in trouble for a Poptart gun at all but I guess if a little kid was wearing a shirt with tons of guns on it or some scene of violence I would be annoyed. Should the kid be punished for that? No, but surely the parents should get an earful about that.

    • Gangle

      I think it is ridiculous because all that time, effort, money and resources are being spent on such a stupid bill. This is an issue that should be dealt with within the school system, not something that should be a big political brouhaha.

  • Robotic Arms Dealer

    Kind of an overreaction to idiots being stupid.

    A better law would be to make it illegal for idiots to be stupid

  • pineapplegrasss

    I’m going to have to agree with no guns at school. Even poptart guns. It wasn’t a gun no matter what shape he bit it into until he playacted shooting his friends. Guns are not toys. They kill people, or animals. That’s what they were created for. Killing. Why is it ok to let your children pretend that they are shooting their friends? I don’t let my children play with toy guns at all. I don’t let them play with little pretend plastic crackpipes. I don’t let them pretend to skin the cat. I don’t let them pretend to rape their friends. I know that parts all a stretch… just saying. Schools have no tolerance on all of those things, they even have signs on the gate when you’re entering campus about no weapons of any kind. And the NRA? really? They really need to advocate for poptart guns in schools? They just want more guns and more publicity.

    • Paul White

      You know how many parents refuse to let their kids play guns, only for kids to use sticks, legos, hair dryers, etc…?

    • pineapplegrasss

      Its not the tool, its the action. I have sons, they bulid legos, I know. They even build guns, I’ve seen it. But, they would never point it at me and say bang bang! I use it as a learning lesson, just like I would when they do other things that I don’t approve of. I do not want my sons to think its ok to shoot people. I know little boys play cops and robbers etc, I’ve had this conversation so many times, this fight with my sister etc, I know all boys don’t grow up to be violent gangbangers bc their mom bought them a popgun. That said, I do think our society is way, way too violent. And young kids have taken real guns to school bc they don’t understand the severity of it. We hear about schools getting shot up all the time. Guns don’t belong in schools, even poptart guns.

    • Slytherin Sister

      Pop-tart guns are NOT guns. Kicking a student out of school for a non-gun only hurts him and does not protect anyone. Zero-tolerance policy are idiotic and no rational person should agree with them.

    • pineapplegrasss

      There are zero tolerance policy on all types of things.. You prob only care about the gun one.. And, you probably haven’t seen their policy, as I haven’t either. And, I did read that this boy had other violence related issues. He probably should have been eating his poptart, not play shooting people with it

  • AlbinoWino

    While I agree the Poptart thing is ridiculous I think it’s easy to latch onto this one story without seeing the bigger picture. I don’t think a little kid should be wearing a shirt to school covered in guns or violent scenes or profanity. Schools are tasked with managing a delicate balance while trying to prevent any sort of violence from infiltrating their schools. They overreact in the case of a Poptart when all they had to do was pull the kid aside and tell them not to play shoot their friends. I mean, if someone did this to my kid I probably wouldn’t be concerned. If they shouted, “DIE! DIE! DIE! You’re DEAD now!” or something while doing it I would be a bit disturbed. By the same token, we come down just as hard on kids when they do and say violent things and then later on commit a violent act at a school whether that’s a fight or as far as a school shooting. Then we’re admonishing the schools for not seeing the warning signs and partly causing the violence. Essentially it’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Putting these rules into place is just a massive waste of time. People don’t know what the hell they want. We don’t want undisciplined kids in our schools running things and getting away with whatever. We also don’t want kids coddled and sent home for petty acts that could be viewed as slightly aggressive. We leave it to school to walk this line and sometimes they topple a bit too much to one side. There’s no easy solution there as any educator could interpret things differently.

    • Gangle

      ^^ all of this. Really, when a teacher discovered the gun-shaped pop-tart, they should have just said ‘oh for petes sake, Johnny. Hurry up and finish your pop tart.’ But spending all this time and effort so kids can freely wear shirts with pro-gun slogans? Goodness gracious.

  • tk88

    I think that the issues with guns in Florida are getting out of hand. However, a lot of these “zero-tolerance” policies get ridiculous. It’s one thing to ban toy guns, but anyone who’s been around kids (ESPECIALLY little boys) know that they will make anything and everything into a “gun” to play with. This doesn’t even mean the children are violent, but just playing out aggression and fantasy which is *gasp* normal and healthy! To severely punish children who use their imagination to play war or hero/villain games is demonizing them in a way that’s much more damaging than another child being told “Bang Bang! You’re dead!” It is also wrong to put a child who makes a gun out of his hand or…snack food into the same category as one that brings an actual weapon to school or makes legitimate threats against other students or faculty.