Mara Rose Williams, writing in the Kansas City Star, October 10, 2019: A 12-year-old Overland Park girl formed a gun with her fingers, pointed at four of her Westridge Middle School classmates one at a time, and then turned the pretend weapon toward herself. According to Johnson County District Court documents, on Sept. 18, she “unlawfully and feloniously communicated a threat to commit violence, with the intent to place another, in fear, or with the intent to cause the evacuation, lock down or disruption in regular, ongoing activities…” A person familiar with a more detailed incident report spoke to The Star on condition of anonymity. The person said that during a class discussion, another student asked the girl, if she could kill five people in the class, who would they be? In response, the girl allegedly pointed her finger pistol — like the ones many children use playing cops and robbers. Because of that gesture, The Star was told, the girl was sent to Principal Jeremy McDonnell’s office, and the other students involved were also talked to. The school resource officer recommended that she be arrested, the source said.
Police hauled her out of school in handcuffs, arrested her and charged the child with a felony for threatening. Shawnee Mission school officials said they could not discuss the case, citing privacy laws, but did say it wasn’t the district that arrested the child. “We don’t do that,” said spokesman David Smith. “That is not our job.” He said the role of the district police is “not to enforce the law but to keep kids and adults safe.” Smith said that in general, pointing a finger pistol might violate the district’s policy against intimidation and bullying. “I might not have anything in my hand but I might be so clear that the individual definitely feels threatened,” Smith said. She was detained by police and later released to her mother. Ah, now I get it. If someone “feels” threatened, it’s a felony, even if there’s no actual threat or ability to cause the kind of harm an individual feels might happen. Why didn’t you say so in the first place?
Isn’t the first rule of gun safety to treat every gun like it’s loaded? Which brings me to wonder, how does one load the thumb and forefinger? Seriously, though, how is this a police matter? It’s a 12-year-old girl, armed with nothing but her fingers. Are we going to force kids to wear mittens year-round so they don’t accidentally shoot somebody? A couple of kids recently brought real guns to school in the same district but weren’t charged with a felony. Officials, who wouldn’t disclose how the two students were disciplined, said there was no evidence to suggest the teenagers planned to use the guns at school. Both were charged in juvenile court with possession of a firearm, a misdemeanor. Let me understand, if someone feels threatened by your finger, it’s a felony. But if you actually have a gun but there’s no evidence you plan to use it, assuming that I can read your mind, then it’s a misdemeanor. Last question, if I don’t intend to shoot you with my finger, what is it?
If finger guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have finger guns. After this incident, the girl moved to a saner place. She’s now living with her grandfather in California, where governor noisome has banned finger ammunition.