A twelve year old Kansas middle school student was charged with a felony after she made a finger gun, pointed it at four students and then at herself. For that action, she was taken away in handcuffs by police and now is charged with felony threatening. (Kansas City Star)
The incident began at Westridge Middle School in Kansas, which is in the Shawnee Mission School District. Reportedly, another student asked her, “If you could kill five people, who would it be?” She pointed her finger at 4 students then back at herself.
She was sent to the principal’s office, and the School Resource officer recommended she be arrested. At that point she was placed in handcuffs and hauled off to the police department. They did speak to the other students, but only one Kansas Middle School student was arrested. The student was later released to her mother. But the charge could follow her the rest of her life. She faces up to a year in a Juvenile Detention Center.
Recently, two other students in the same school district were arrested for actually bringing a gun to school. But since they’d never done it before, and did not appear to have intent, they were only charged with misdemeanors. According to the prosecutor, actually bringing a gun to school has to happen twice for it to be a felony, according to Kansas law.
Threatening, on the other hand, is different, according to the District Attorney.
The Kansas City Star’s Toriano Porter noted,
So, let me get this straight: Bringing a gun on campus is a misdemeanor? But threatening someone with few half-cocked fingers is a felony with potentially life-altering consequences?
Did I miss something here? It sure seems like school and law enforcement officials did.
Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe said he could not comment on the specifics of any case, but the fact that threatening violence to a person is a felony, and a juvenile in possession of a gun is a misdemeanor “doesn’t make sense to a lot of people.” That issue would need to be addressed by the Kansas Legislature, though.
Citing privacy laws, Shawnee Mission school officials declined to discuss the latest incident but said the district didn’t arrest the student. Police wouldn’t comment on the case.
David Smith, a spokesman for the school district, said the district does not have a specific policy addressing finger guns.
The arrest of the student has “nothing to do with our (intimidation and bullying) policy,” Smith said. “Law enforcement made that decision.”
OK so we’re going to blame it on the cop. There is plenty of blame to go around here — teacher, SRO, School District, District Attorney. And lastly, did the girl fall into a trap laid for her by a classmate? It was an inappropriate question in the first place. Was she being set up? Or maybe she really does need help and has never played “cops and robbers” with finger guns.
Schools nowadays have “zero tolerance” policies about darned near everything. Remember the pop tart shaped like a gun? The brightly colored water guns that don’t resemble any kind of real gun? Are we giving our kids PTSD over this stuff?
This incident seems crazy, and could cause the girl immense grief later in life. Hopefully, the DA will dismiss the charges or at least do something to mitigate them.
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