Virginia Tech and Columbine High School. Instantly, these names conjure up images of violent tragedies, with 45 total lives taken at the pull of a trigger in the split of a second.
In New York, a nine-year-old boy, Patrick Timoney was threatened with suspension for bringing a small toy gun to school. The media coverage of this story caused a national uproar, citing the gun as being “only a toy,” which couldn’t possibly have caused harm to anyone.
However, when we start allowing weapons to school, even toy ones, not only are we sending the message that weapons, plastic or not, aren’t a big deal, but we are undermining the potential harm these “toys” can possibly bring. It is mandatory that students attend school, but how can a student be expected to learn if they don’t feel safe in their environment?
While many criticized Timoney’s principal, Evelyn Matroianni, for the extreme way she handled the situation, I applaud her. She took the zero tolerance policy seriously and made an unpopular choice that will instill the seriousness of gun violence in her students.
On Jan. 6, a student was found with two firearms at neighboring Mark Keppel High School. Not Littleton, Colorado or Blacksvurg, Virginia but Alhambra, California. It’s hard to say what would have happened if the weapons had not been found, or what the student’s intentions were, but I sleep better at night knowing that our district, our administration and our teachers are doing what is absolutely necessary to keep us safe. While a nine-year-old with a toy gun may hardly seem like a threat, in our society, with lives at stake, every precaution must be taken.
Co-Editor in Chief
Boys will be boys, at least for fourth-grader Patrick Timoney of New York. When he brought a two-inch toy gun to school, I’m sure it never crossed his mind that he would be in the principal’s office, threatened with suspension.
And rules are rules. Schools nationwide should be proud to know that P.S. 52’s Principal Evelyn Matroianni followed the zero-tolerance rule. However, the situation would be more significant if the gun that Timoney brought to school wasn’t a two-inch toy—but it was.
It is important to enforce all rules, especially those concerning safety, but Timoney’s case should have been handled differently. Administrators should implement rules, but when an adult threatens a nine-year-old with suspension for having a two-inch toy, I have to wonder if Matroianni understands what it means to possess a weapon.
Possession of toys in school is not allowed, thus, if Matroianni wanted to punish Timoney, the most she should have done was confiscate the toy. The situation wouldn’t have been so dramatized.
Twelve-year-old Alexa Gonzalez, also from New York, doodled on her desk during school and was handcuffed after the police arrived. Timoney and Gonzalez’s situations both raise concerns about zero-tolerance policies. Both show how disciplinary good intentions have been taken too far, especially in cases that do not involve outright violence.
It doesn’t take much to know that neither the gun nor the doodling were dangerous. If the children wanted to inflict harm, they would have done something much more serious. But that didn’t happen. It’s become apparent that tiny boys with tiny toys are capable of creating not-so-tiny problems.