TAKING A BAT OUT OF CRIME
It is illegal to own a baseball bat in the town of Prune Hills, Nevada.
The City Council passed an ordinance last week outlawing the sale or possession of baseball bats inside the city limits because "they are insidious objects which can be turned into deadly weapons at a moment's notice," according to Wilbur Hashburn, mayor of Prune Hills.
"What seems to be an innocent plaything can become an instrument of violence in the blink of an eye," His Honor said, "an instrument that can maim or kill a young child with a single blow--just like happened to little Jamie."
The mayor was referring to an incident that happened six months ago when James Earl Morton, age 10, was struck in the head with a baseball bat by his 6-year-old sister, Lisa. The boy was rushed to the hospital in nearby Antelope Valley, and doctors worked for nine hours trying to save him, but Jamie died on the operating of a massive brain hemorrage.
"I was just doing what my daddy told me," a tearful Lisa explained. "He said that when my brother picked on me that I should get a baseball bat and hit him with it. Jamie was teasing me and pulling my hair, so I did what daddy said: I grabbed the bat and hit him in the head. I didn't know it would hurt him so bad."
"The Morton tragedy showed us that we couldn't just sit and twiddle our thumbs while our children grew up thinking that it was okay to beat each other's brains out whenever they felt like it," Mayor Hashburn said. "So we (the City Council) did what we thought was best for Prune Hills and passed a law against kids having baseball bats in our town."
The new statute, commonly referred to as the "Bat Ban," makes it a misdemeanor for city residents to own a baseball bat, prohibits the use of city property for baseball diamonds, and outlaws school baseball teams.
"Some of these measures may seem a bit extreme," the mayor said, "but they are necessary to protect the children of this city from evil influences, and its citizens from wanton violence."
Next month the council will consider enacting a new ordinance to make it illegal for children who are residents of the city to even be taught the use of a baseball bat anywhere outside the city. According to the mayor, the members of the council are well aware that they have no jurisdiction over people who reside outside the city limits and can't do anything to them if they do teach city children how to play baseball.
But they do have jurisdiction over children living in the city--and their parents. So, if a child travels outside of town to get baseball instruction, he will be arrested as soon as he comes back into the city limits. And his parents will liable for a $500 fine or six weeks in jail.
"This may seem like another unduly harsh measure," Mayor Washburn said, "but we have to do something about our children growing up thinking that a baseball bat can be used as a lethal weapon."
Next year the council is going to consider banning sports pages in the local newspaper as well as all TV and radio sportscasts coming into the city.