Gun violence in America continues to be a hot topic, and schools are the front line of the stand against firearms. Unfortunately, misguided administrations are going berserk and threatening their students with harsh punishments for a variety of "offenses" that involve things that vaguely relate to guns.
1. Teen suspended for gun background on computer
Back in February, Daniel McClane, a freshman at an Arizona high school, was suspended for three days after setting a picture of an AK-47 lying on a flag as a computer background.
The suspension was lifted after his father battled against the ruling, but the high school was taking a "hard line" that they arbitrarily drew in the sand against a teenager who thought guns were sort of cool. Keep in mind that the picture, which doesn't advocate for guns or even place them in a positive light, was classified by the school as "displaying offensive images." If pictures of guns are enough for schools to suspend students, we'd better take a hard look at my Facebook.
The sad thing is that this could be considered the most rational reaction of the bunch.
2. 10 year-old arrested for bringing "replica gun" on bus
In May, Douglas MacArthur, a first grade student, brought a "replica weapon" onto the school bus in his backpack. The bus driver was alerted after another child was very distraught at the sight. The child was told he had "traumatized" everybody on the bus with his possession of the replica weapon ...
Oddly enough, the "weapon" in question was the size of a nickle. The child was actually arrested by the Alexandria Police Department. The local police got involved and charged the child with brandishing a weapon by bringing it on to the bus after the children were being taken home for the day.
The local police were very distraught at such an egregious defense. The child was never prosecuted, but how can we rest safely knowing that such dangers are in front of our children?
The coin-sized gun in question was probably too small to be held by your average action figure, yet MacArthur was very seriously threatened with legal punishment for even having it on the bus.
3. Fifth grade girl searched after possessing "gun-shaped" piece of paper
Who knew this piece of paper could cause so much trouble?
For Melody Valentin, the student in question, it spelled some doom and gloom. Other children called her a "murderer" after the incident in question, even though the piece of paper, which looks more like a capital L, was relatively inoffensive.
Ambiguous pieces of paper look enough like guns for a child to be scolded and physically searched after she had the audacity to bring one to the classroom. Seems reasonable, right?
4. Cupcakes confiscated for army men on top
Green army men toys are a staple of many childhoods. When third grader Hunter Fountain decorated some cupcakes with them and brought them to school for his birthday, he probably didn't think the school would confiscate them.
However, the school decided that the toys were too violent for kids to be enjoying on top of their food. The principal noted "Living in a democratic society entails respect for opposing opinions. In the climate of recent events in schools we walk a delicate balance in teaching non-violence in our buildings and trying to ensure a safe, peaceful atmosphere." It was, in her words, too soon after Sandy Hook to allow in the school.
After Fountain's mother called the school, the toys were removed and sent home with Hunter in a baggie. The important thing is the students still got to eat the cupcakes afterward.
A lot of children play with green army men as children, but this school ridiculously compared the soldiers to mass murderers, according to Fountain's mother.
When I was a freshman in high school in 2006, the theatre department asked me to bring in an Airsoft Desert Eagle for use as a prop in a school play. I informed the Dean of Students, and after receiving his approval I brought the toy in my backpack, took it to the director in the morning, and no ruckus was caused.
I'm glad I didn't do that in 2013, or I'd be writing this article from prison. Schools need to take a look at their irrational policies and think about what is offensive and threatening and what is harmless plastic or L-shaped pieces of paper, and then maybe gun rights activists could come to the table to discuss a serious issue.