House File 140, offered by state Rep. Dean Fisher (R-Garwin) and co-sponsored by Reps. Sandy Salmon (R-Janesville), Jarad Klein (R-Keota), Ralph Watts (R-Adel), Larry Sheets (R-Moulton), Zach Nunn (R-Bondurant), Steven Holt (R-Denison), Darrel Branhagen (R-Decorah), and Rob Taylor (R-West Des Moines), relates to discipline and personal conduct policies adopted by public school districts.
The bill requires those policies do not allow that the following acts are ground for disciplinary action or referral to the criminal justice or juvenile justice systems:
- simulating a firearm or weapon while participating in play with other students,
- wearing clothing or accessories depicting a firearm or weapon, or
- expressing an opinion regarding a right guaranteed by the Second Amendment.
“I refer to House File 140 as the ‘Let Kids Be Kids Act,’” Fisher said. “Some have called this bill simply ‘common sense.’”
“It’s a shame that we’ve come to this point in society where we have to rein in these kinds of abuses caused by political correctness, but here we are,” he added. “There have been many incidents around the nation where young children who were simply engaging in time honored play such as “cops and robbers” or emulating a hero from a movie scene have been severely disciplined as a result of this innocent kind of play – play that was commonplace when most of us adults were children.”
Fisher said the underlying theory that has led to those disciplinary actions is that, somehow, a child pointing his or her finger and shouting, “Bang! Bang!” is going to lead to that child becoming a murderer. He called that reasoning “hogwash,” and said no connection has been made between the two.
“It’s purely a political attempt at demonizing Americans that exercise their constitutional rights under the Second Amendment,” he said. “This bill seeks to guarantee that these kinds of abuses are not repeated here in Iowa. Other instances of kids being disciplined for wearing shirts that depict firearms or pro Second Amendment statements will also be covered by this legislation.”
HF 140 defines “simulation of a firearm or weapon while participating in play” to include brandishing an item that is shaped or fabricated to simulate the shape of a firearm or weapon or pretending that the item brandished is a weapon, possessing a toy firearm or toy weapon that is two inches or less in overall length, using a finger or hand to simulate a firearm or weapon, vocalizing an imaginary firearm or weapon, or drawing a picture of or possessing an image of a firearm or weapon. The bill, however, allows that a student may be subject to disciplinary action if such play substantially disrupts student learning, causes bodily harm to another person, or places another person in reasonable fear of bodily harm.
The bill also establishes that the mere fact that another person is offended by the image or words on clothing or an accessory does not constitute a substantial disruption to student learning. It also includes a provision stating that it is not meant to prohibit a public school from adopting a school uniform policy.