(WJLA) - Now just barely nine years old, Josh Welch has become a national symbol for gun rights advocates.
He was suspended from the second grade for two days last year after nibbling a breakfast cereal bar into the shape of a gun. Afterwards, politicians scrambled to his cause, and one even gave him a lifetime membership to the NRA.
The boy’s father still calls the punishment “outrageous:”
"Zero tolerance takes away the ability to think and to make judgment calls on certain scenarios," sad BJ Welch.
Josh himself says the incident is fuzzy for him:
“I don't think I remember because that was like a year ago."
On Tuesday at a hearing on whether the little boy’s record will be cleared, for the first time Josh’s teacher and the Anne Arundel County School system gave their version of the events from last March at Park Elementary School.
Teacher Jessica Fultz claims that the suspension wasn’t about a so-called "Pop-Tart gun," but rather a daily pattern of escalating classroom disruption and even violence from the then seven-year-old.
The teacher also claims that Welch had threatened classmates and made shooting noises, chewing the gun shape with his breakfast food more than once.
Josh’s father says that account is news to him:
“I don't think he was suspended because he was being rowdy. I think he was suspended because of the sensitive nature of the topic."
"I'm thinking some of the stuff I don't remember, and why cant I go back in the past to fix that stuff," said Josh.
The next step for Josh will be a recommendation from the hearing officer to the school board. The board will then decide whether or not to clear Josh's record.