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School Violence and Weapons

While not all school violence involves weapons, many of the deadliest attacks feature a weapon. Traditionally, weapons prohibited on school grounds referred to firearms and explosives, but recently, many states have widened these guidelines.

Effect of No Child Left Behind on Weapons in Schools

No Child Left Behind authorized federal funding to schools only if they adopted a "zero tolerance" policy toward illegal firearms on or near school grounds. Consequently, many school districts strictly prohibit weapons from campus and expel any student who brings a weapon to class. Some states enacted this policy at a state level, while others allowed the school districts to set their own weapons rules.

Many states have gone much further than these specifications. For example, Georgia defines weapons in its school laws as items complying with these descriptions:

"Any pistol, revolver, or any weapon designed or intended to propel a missile of any kind, or any dirk, bowie knife, switchblade knife, ballistic knife, any other knife having a blade of three or more inches, straight-edge razor, razor blade, spring stick, metal knuckles, blackjack, any bat, club, or other bludgeon-type weapon, or any flailing instrument consisting of two or more rigid parts connected in such a manner as to allow them to swing freely, which may be known as a nun chahka, nun chuck, nunchaku, shuriken, or fighting chain, or any disc, of whatever configuration, having at least two points or pointed blades which is designed to be thrown or propelled and which may be known as a throwing star or oriental dart, or any weapon of like kind, and any stun gun or taser" (Code 1-33).

When Weapons are Allowed on School Grounds

The only instances in which all states allow weapons and firearms on school property are when individuals are authorized to do so; for example, school police officers may be armed and teachers having instructional purposes.

Some states have concealed carry laws that allow people to bring guns with them anywhere they go, including school. Other states specifically allow teachers to bring firearms to school so that they can protect against a sudden attack.

For more information, see FindLaw's sections on Student Discipline and Codes of Conduct.

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