Alexandria police have arrested a ten-year-old boy in Alexandria for showing a toy gun to fellow students on a school bus. The boy was charged with “brandishing a weapon” by police in yet another absurd case with teachers and police act robotically without judgment or logic.
The ten-year-old boy showed the toy gun to a friend on a bus on Monday and was called into a meeting on Tuesday morning. Police officers found the toy in his backpack. The gun was a replica with an orange tip that could not be fired. He was charged as a juvenile with a misdemeanor.
The Virginia law expressly does not require that the gun be real or capable of firing:
§ 18.2-282. Pointing, holding, or brandishing firearm, air or gas operated weapon or object similar in appearance; penalty.
A. It shall be unlawful for any person to point, hold or brandish any firearm or any air or gas operated weapon or any object similar in appearance, whether capable of being fired or not, in such manner as to reasonably induce fear in the mind of another or hold a firearm or any air or gas operated weapon in a public place in such a manner as to reasonably induce fear in the mind of another of being shot or injured. However, this section shall not apply to any person engaged in excusable or justifiable self-defense. Persons violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor or, if the violation occurs upon any public, private or religious elementary, middle or high school, including buildings and grounds or upon public property within 1,000 feet of such school property, he shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony.
There is no question that the school officials acted appropriately in calling the boy to the office and even calling officers. However, this is a ten-year-old kid who did a stupid thing. That is the modus operandi of ten-year-old kids. Yet, as discussed in earlier blogs, we have now turned over disciplinary issues to the criminal justice system in a criminalization of our schools.
I am also concerned about the radical disparity in treatment between schools. This school is near my old house. At the elementary school in my neighborhood, a boy brought an actual switch blade knife to school and was showing it to friends. Because his mother was active in the PTA, it was brushed over and no significant action was taken. I happened to agree with the resolution of the case which was kept quiet. The boy made a mistake and learned a lesson. I did not see the need for him to be arrested. However, we have this disparity in reactions to these cases where some kids go to jail and others go home for a tongue lashing.
My preference remains for school officials to return to dealing with kids as kids as opposed to miniature felons.
Source: Washington Post