April 24, 2009

Colorado "Zero Tolerance" Policy On Fake Guns Lifted, Discretion Left To Schools

You may remember the story of Marie Morrow, a student who faced automatic expulsion from Cherry Creek schools for having drill team rifles props in her SUV on campus.

Thankfully, after the adults stepped in back in February, Morrow avoided expulsion.

But the "zero tolerance" policy that forced the hand of the school remained in place until this week:
When Marie Morrow was suspended from school for bringing in drill team rifle props, she used her days off to lobby state legislators to change the law.

Her story, first reported by 9NEWS, drew national attention.

On Tuesday, Morrow was watching as Gov. Bill Ritter signed a law giving schools discretion when it comes to fake guns on campus. They no longer will mean an automatic expulsion. Each school can decide what punishment fits the situation.

Cherry Creek Schools counted Morrow's six-day suspension as the required expulsion. She had the fake guns in her car for a young Marines drill team practice after school.

The incident won't affect her plans to attend the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.
Thankfully, a little bit of sanity and common sense has been restored to Colorado's schools following the knee-jerk reactions that stemmed from the Columbine tragedy 10 years ago this week. This legislation gives the discretion to the proper level of action--the local schools. The mindset that prompted the zero-tolerance policy has, however, not gone away:
Morrow's case isn't the first nor will it be the last where unintended consequences precipitated by poorly written, knee-jerk, zero-tolerance legislation affect the lives of those the law should actually protect.

Just remember this the next time someone says "there should be a law." The "cult of action" embraced by those who wish to protect people from themselves and deny others their liberty tend to produce half-baked, "feel-good" laws that legislators tout as "helping the situation."
Most of the time, they end up doing precisely the opposite.

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