A bill has been sent to the state Senate that is meant to protect children simulating a weapon during play at school from criminal or civil penalties, fines or other punishments.

Representative Mike Kelley (R-Lamar) calls it the “Pop Tart” bill, stemming from an incident last year in a school.

“A child was eating a pop tart, and the shape of his Pop Tart happened to resemble a gun,” Kelley explains, “and that child was disciplined and suspended from school for having a pop tart that happened to be shaped like a firearm.”

The bill raised concerns among some Democrats, including Genise Montecillo (St. Louis), who challenged his contention that the legislation represented a “common sense” policy. She says it goes against other state laws.

“These are the procedures that school districts put in place as part of the Safe School Act to keep schools safe,” Montecillo told Kelly. “You’ve got a provision in here that children can have toy guns in school and there’s no punishment if they violate school policy for toy guns.”

Kelley stressed to Montecillo that the bill would allow guns only up to 2 inches in size.

“I don’t care what size it is,” she told him.

Kelley assured Representative Stacey Newman (D-St. Louis) that the legislation would not take local districts’ power to set policy and make decisions about what would and would not be allowed.

“I just want to make suer that local school districts can make their own policies that will negate this,” Newman told Kelley.

“They definitely can, ma’am,” Kelly told Newman.

The proposal went to the Senate on a 110-39 vote.