An Anne Arundel County boy suspended from school for biting a Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun will at least know how to operate it responsibly after he was given a lifetime membership to the National Rifle Association by the Maryland House of Delegates' top Republican.
Eight-year-old Josh Welch was given the lifetime NRA membership, worth $550, during an Anne Arundel County Republican fundraiser.
"This dangerous confetti-flavored Pop-Tart, obviously only Democrats in Maryland think that's dangerous, but this young man ... has made national news around the country," said House Minority Leader Nic Kipke, R-Anne Arundel County, at the fundraiser while brandishing a Pop-Tart he had shaped into a handgun. "The Democrats that run our school system have given this young man a lot of grief."
Kipke said the membership comes with a monthly magazine that teaches children firearms safety.
Welch was handed a two-day suspension from Park Elementary School in Brooklyn Park in March after he shaped the breakfast pastry into a gun and waved it around.
Welch's father, B.J., said Josh was pretty excited about the membership. He said Josh had struggled after the suspension.
"He's gotten a little sensitive about the whole topic -- sometimes kids will poke fun at him," B.J. Welch said. He said Josh was learning firearms safety and hunting from his grandfather.
Robin Ficker, the Welch family's attorney, is in the process of appealing to the Anne Arundel schools superintendent to have the suspension removed from Welch's permanent record.
"He's going to be in the school system for at least 10 years. That means any future educator that looks at his file's not going to give him the benefit of the doubt. It's a black mark on his record," Ficker said.
Anne Arundel County Public Schools spokesman Bob Mosier said he couldn't comment on Welch's appeal. Of the NRA's gift though, he said, "It's very regrettable that those without the facts of this situation, a group that now apparently includes state elected officials, would choose to exploit a child for political purposes."