The Absurdity of Zero Tolerance Policy, Illustrated

This fearsome concealable weapon is a pocket radio made in the 1960s as memorabilia for the James Bond film Dr.No. Presumably, it was viewed as harmless back then. Today, in far too many parts of the United States, anything that resembles a firearm is viewed with fetishistic horror. Most public school officials would expel a student for bringing in such a collectible for show and tell. Worse, the same officials would do the same for an inert plastic tool because it resembles a cartridge or an equally inert fired casing because it used to be a cartridge. This knee-jerk reaction based on bigotry also illustrates a gross failure of imagination, for even the supposedly “secure” environments are full of reasonably effective weapons. The Tuff Writer pen shown is a relatively obvious example, but any number of metal, plastic or ceramic objects become shivs with minimal effort. Any number of sticks, such as those used for brooms, become batons or spears with equally minimal effort.

The official effort to eradicate the over images of guns from schools has far more to do with social conditioning than with safety. Aversion therapy coupled with imposed learned helplessness through arbitrary and capricious enforcement have some effect, but it can be effectively countered by parental effort. The other approach is the use of private, co-op and home schooling. Typical home schooled kids have access to weapons but we don’t hear about them going on rampages. That comes as no surprise: prior to the late 1980s, even in states like New Jersey it was common and normal for kids to roam far and wide with .22 rifles across bicycle handlebars. No rampages.

The irony of the situation is that unconventional weapons remain very much available for offensive use. The pen in the photo above would be allowed in a school even through it’s the only viable weapon of the three items shown. And if somebody gets the bright idea to ban it as well, a pre-scored metal ruler or a bicycle cable lock or some other common, innocuous object will get pressed into use. Remember that karate weapons originated from common household objects when peasants were denied conventional arms. And while paranoid administrators at schools and airports obsess over pictures of guns on tshirts and harmless plastic keyfobs, more than one real-world submachine gun looks like a briefcase or a radio. The best we can hope for in the long run is the return to sanity: the treatment of students (and adults) by their actions and not by the tools they use.

About the Author:

Oleg Volk

Oleg Volk is a creative director working mainly in firearms advertising. A great fan of America and the right to bear arms, he uses his photography to support the right of every individual to self-determination and independence. To that end, he is also a big fan of firearms.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (3)

  1. My neighbors son was expelled from KINDERGARTEN for defending himself from the class bully. He buried a pencil in the kids shoulder. Anything can be used as a weapon. On that note I want one of those briefcases. Too cool.

  2. We “need” zero tolerance to prove that school administrators can take action on a threat (they) percieved. Never mind that they can’t enforce the anti-bullying behaviour contract issued to protect my son, never mind that my son took matters into his own hands (and suffered legal consequences) for the school’s failure in its primary responsibilities; that any school adopts a zero-T policy bespeaks weak-mindedness and political posturing for a CYA mode of district management. Bad judgement or poor restraint by students or parents deserves a response ‘on level’ by the district–ifd the radio was used as such and never was presented as a weapon to coerce or threaten another then it should be treated as a bad judgement call be the family involved.

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