The End of Discretion, continued



Will writes from Washington, D.C. (well, Arlington, Virginia). You can reach him at willblogcorrespondence at gmail dot com.

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7 Responses

  1. Avatar rj says:

    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?Report

    • Avatar Will in reply to rj says:

      Fair point, but I think these administrative decisions are framed by the definitions in the law we’re talking about.Report

      • Avatar rj in reply to Will says:

        To say it differently, the frame is too wide.Report

        • Avatar Will in reply to rj says:

          On the micro question of “what constitutes a weapon,” maybe so. But the macro question – What should we do with this kid? – is what I’m worried about here.Report

          • Avatar rj in reply to Will says:

            The macro question isn’t as macro as you say it is. The rule mandates expulsion, but there is no reason that the rule can’t mandate suspension, a stern warning or something else. There’s also reason the rule can’t have different penalties for different weapons.

            At the very least, this sort of thing is better debated by a legislative body, or at least published in the federal register.

            Discretion is the friend of the connected and lucky. It’s the enemy of the disfavored and unlucky.Report

  2. Avatar trizzlor says:

    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?Report