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. 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

    • 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

      • rj in reply to Will says:

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

        • 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

          • 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. 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