Jim Bagwell: Senate bill criminalizes innocent activities
If I were in high school now I would definitely have already been arrested. Yes, times have changed but are we over-reaching and over-reacting in trying to protect everyone from every possibility?
In the early 1960s I regularly drove my ’51 Chevy pickup to school with whatever hunting supplies I needed for my afternoon quail and chukar hunt including a shotgun in the gun rack. I guess I would be an ex-felon now because of my passion for hunting. I always had a pocket knife in my pocket regardless of being at home, school or church. My dad taught me that I was undressed if I didn’t have a knife to accomplish whatever task I might need it for. At that time a knife was a tool.
I know that people mean well when they want to separate students from various devices that could be used to hurt someone else. A pocket knife definitely falls into that category but so does a ball point pen or a sharp pencil or a baseball bat. The nastiest non-weapon I have ever seen used was a belt with a big buckle.
How far will we go in our attempt to protect all people from all things? I guess we could include anything that can be thrust, thrown or swung in an offensive or aggressive manner. Heck, a ping-pong ball thrust into someone’s throat might be a weapon.
Senate Bill 171 was introduced by Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Washoe County, at the behest of Washoe County School District Police Chief Mike Mieras. It proposes to add a number of potential weapons to a growing list of prohibited weapons in an attempt to protect students while at school. It also proposes locations away from the schools where school activities occur as weapons ban areas. Who gets to define the size of the area and timeframe of the “weapons” ban? What if you are in a park because it is a park and you did not know the school event was scheduled? Technically you just became a criminal without any intent on your part.
The problem is we are criminalizing activities that are more often than not innocent and “legal.”
When I go to Lampe Park in Gardnerville to watch my granddaughter run in a high school cross-country meet I would automatically be a criminal because I always have a pocket knife in my pocket. This is going way too far.
Let’s be honest, do we want to criminalize all activities that have even the remotest potential of being subverted to a criminal act? Redefining a tool to a weapon does nothing to change the mindset of a person hell-bent on injuring someone else. It simply adds another law to a myriad of laws that already exist. If we go this far then what prevents criminalizing possession of a hammer or kitchen knives in your home if you have school-age children. Where does common sense enter this discussion? It is too bad that “common sense is not common” even amongst our leaders.
• Jim Bagwell of Carson City is a Vietnam veteran and graduate of the FBI National Academy who worked 31 years in law enforcement. He and his wife Lori own Charley’s Grilled Subs.