The End of Discretion, continued

Schoolboy expelled for shooting pellets out of a straw. The relevant law is, of course, a federal one:

The federal Gun-Free Schools Act mandates that schools expel students who take weapons, including hand guns, explosive devices and projectile weapons, to school. E-mail traffic among school officials showed they ruled that Mikel’s plastic tube, which was fashioned from a pen casing, met the definition of a projectile weapon because it was “used to intimidate, threaten or harm others.”

See here, here, and here (in reverse chronological order) for earlier ruminations on this sort of thing.

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7 thoughts on “The End of Discretion, continued

  1. Isn’t the administrators’ making a decision about what counts as a projectile weapon an act of discretion? Wouldn’t the outcome be fairer and easier to comply with by students if the statute provided a list of weapons?

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  2. I’m having trouble finding the relevant parts of the Gun-Free Schools Act. It either explicitly refers to “a firearm that has moved in or that otherwise affects interstate or foreign commerce” which certainly a pen is not. This seems more in-line, but even that refers to “any type of weapon which will, or which may be readily converted to, expel a projectile by the action of an explosive or other propellant, and which has any barrel with a bore of more than one-half inch in diameter“. Which also seems to exclude a pen (and, really getting into the weeds, the WaPo article shows a photo of the pen that is just less than 1/2 inch).

    I’m guessing the act was written this way to ban blow-guns and such, and that’s a classification that really is up to the teacher’s discretion. Presumably if the student was shooting tacks or nails this decision would be justified?

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