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‘Pop-Tarts gun bill’ prompts jokes in Nevada Legislature

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CARSON CITY, Nev. — Students who play with miniature toy guns, shoot with hand gestures and fashion make-believe weapons out of such items as blocks and pastries may receive protection in the classroom thanks to a Republican-proposed bill in the Legislature.

Assembly Bill 21 would prohibit a school from disciplining students for creating guns from building blocks or foods, as well as drawing guns or using hand gestures to simulate firing a weapon. In addition, it would allow students to play with toy guns less than 2 inches long, express opinions about firearms and wear clothing containing images of weapons without fear of retribution.

The proposal has become informally known as the Pop-Tarts gun bill, referring to a highly publicized suspension of a Maryland second-grader in 2013 after the student nibbled one of the toaster pastries into the shape of a gun.

Proponents say the protections are necessary to prevent government overreach on gun control, but the bill has drawn derision from several lawmakers for being an overreaction to a smattering of poor decisions by inept school administrators in other states.

In poking fun of the bill in a tweet, Assemblyman Elliot Anderson focused on its confectionery provisions.

“I didn’t realize our pastry rights were being infringed upon,” he wrote.

Then, using a substitute for the word “rifle,” he paraphrased a boot-camp chant from Stanley Kubrick’s Vietnam War film “Full Metal Jacket” to continue his lampoon of the bill.

“This is my donut. There are many like it, but this one is mine,” Anderson wrote.

“School districts are more than capable of dealing with this,” Anderson wrote. “We have more pressing issues than one overreaction in (Maryland).”

The issue is red meat for conservatives nationwide. With mixed success, similar bills have appeared in Maryland, Florida, Texas and Oklahoma in recent years. Florida passed the law. Maryland didn’t.

The Nevada legislation could protect students from Clark County School District’s regulations governing antisocial behavior. The district’s rules prohibit on school grounds simulated weapons, which include toys and any nonfunctional item bearing resemblance to firearms mentioned in the district’s weapons policy.

The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Jim Wheeler and a cohort of Republican lawmakers championing other firearm-related bills this session, is headed to the Assembly’s education committee.

Assemblyman Brent Jones, R-Las Vegas, is a co-sponsor of the legislation. He says anti-gun advocates are punishing schoolchildren with strict school policies.

“Sometimes people get so zealous to try to prevent the Second Amendment or go against it that they don’t use common sense,” he said. “Then their efforts trickle down to mimicry: Pop-Tarts, pieces of paper, drawings. We need to get back to common sense principles for the people who are ideologically against guns who use this to punish kids.”

Firearms will continue to be a divisive, incendiary topic this session. A school gun debate spawned a 90-minute, rambling discourse in the Assembly’s judiciary committee on Feb. 4, the session’s third day.

Republican lawmakers were advocating for gun owners wanting to lock their weapons in cars on school grounds a current misdemeanor. In 2013, police arrested an 18-year-old student from Cheyenne High School who had a .32-caliber gun in his car. Assembly Speaker John Hambrick is sponsoring the bill.

Republicans also want to see laws legalizing concealed weapons on college campuses and blocking executive orders issued by the federal government. Another law would limit a local government’s ability to regulate the purchase and transfer of firearms.

Some lawmakers are showing their support with more than votes. At least nine lawmakers have advised the Legislative Counsel Bureau they will carry a firearm in the building during the session.

But Republicans aren’t alone in their efforts to enact gun laws. A bill is in the works to prohibit gun ownership for those convicted of domestic abuse.

The Legislature may also take up a provision that would require third-party sales of guns to require background checks. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Napster co-founder Sean Parker have helped to bankroll the effort in Nevada.

The Democratic-controlled Legislature passed the measure in 2013, but Gov. Brian Sandoval vetoed it. Nevadans for Background Checks, the Bloomberg-backed group, led an effort to pose the reform as a question on the 2016 ballot. The group received enough signatures for voters to decide in 2016. The Legislature has the option to pass the measure until the session’s 40th day.

With the Republican majority and Sandoval’s history, the measure is not likely to surface until it appears on the ballot in 2016.


Information from: Las Vegas Sun,