You wouldn’t think your kids could get suspended from school just because you exercised your constitutionally guaranteed rights off campus, but this is apparently what happened to one New Jersey family. It’s not that the school district jumped the gun, either — rather, the punitive action was prescribed by official policy. As Fox News reported Sunday:
A New Jersey high school came under fire Friday after it allegedly suspended two students over a gun photo taken during a family visit to a shooting range.
News of the unnamed students’ suspension circulated through a Lacey Township Facebook group, according to NJ.com.
Amanda Buron, a Lacey resident and family friend of one of the suspended students said one of the photos shared on SnapChat featured four rifles, magazines, and a gun duffel with the caption “fun day at the range,” NJ.com reported.
Buron said the two students received a five-day in-school suspension after the picture drew the attention of Lacey Township High School officials, who argued that it violated the school’s policy on weapons possession.
The school district shortly faced community backlash for the alleged suspension, with many calling for people to appear at the school board’s next meeting on Monday to protest the decision.
Unsurprisingly, district officials hid under their desks when asked for comment. As NJ.com reported, “Lacey schools Superintendent Craig Wigley said in an email to NJ Advance Media on Thursday that ‘information posted on social media is incorrect’,” but “declined to say what aspect of the accounts posted on social media is inaccurate.” He also claimed that he couldn’t discuss student-related “private matters.” This is a typical educator dodge.
What the district couldn’t dodge was the reality of an overreaching policy, which actually stated that “students could be suspended for up to a year if they are ‘reported to be in possession of a weapon of any type for any reason or purpose on or off school grounds,’” NJ.com further related.
This inspired pro-Second Amendment groups to threaten a lawsuit, as educators have no legitimate power to ban students from exercising constitutionally protected rights anywhere and everywhere and at all times — even off school grounds. It’s as if a government school prohibited students from expressing certain political viewpoints off campus; it would be the government suppression of free speech.
As the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs’ (ANJRPC’) executive director Scott Bach put it, after sending a cease and desist letter to the district, “Schools do not have the authority to chill the rights of their students off of school grounds, and this blatant infringement of constitutional rights will not be tolerated.... The policy has got to go,” NJ.com also informed.
And it did go.
NJ.com reported today that the “Lacey school district quietly changed” the policy, scrapping the off-school-grounds prohibition and eliminating suspension-length specificity. “‘Students are forbidden to carry any type of weapon or simulated weapon to school,’ the revamped policy states. ‘Strict disciplinary action and legal actions will result if this occurs,’” the news organ detailed.
While this change is welcome, the whole affair reflects the paranoia and irrationality surrounding the gun issue, a larger matter not remedied by one policy alteration. Just consider other Lacey district actions. For example, father Ed Cardinal related what happened to his son, a Lacey Township High School student who drives a pickup to campus: The teen was forced to remove from the truck a sticker depicting a gun — under threat of punishment.
Moreover, NJ.com reported Friday that “Cardinal also criticized school officials for a policy that allows them to punish a student for having anything they consider a weapon — even a dinner fork — as the Lacey resident noted.”
This anti-gun mentality typifies today’s government schools, yet it’s a departure from American tradition and reflects a disturbing pattern. It would shock many to know that boys in the 1940s and ‘50s would sometimes take rifles on N.Y.C.’s subways to school, as they had target shooting practice at the academic day’s end. Yet school shootings weren’t a problem.
This was a thing of the past by the time I attended N.Y.C.’s schools (in the Bronx) in the ‘70s. Nonetheless, we’d still sometimes take realistic-looking toy guns to school and no one batted an eye; this was simply what little boys did. Note, none of us ever pointed one at a policeman and got himself shot.
Now it’s degenerated to a point where students nationwide may not even have a “simulated weapon” in school. What does this say about our culture?
• that we’re more vice-ridden than previously and are less and less the “moral and religious people” for whom President John Adams said our Constitution was made;
• that the aforementioned paranoia and phobic reaction, not reason, are governing policy decisions;
• and that there’s an effort to instill in children a fear of and antipathy for firearms, which could yield citizens who would scrap the Second Amendment.
This lack of reason was reflected in the minority of people who actually defended the Lacey district’s suspension of the two boys; they said the family’s posting of the gun-range photo was “ill-timed” in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., shooting. Well, even more recently there was a tragic bridge collapse in the Sunshine State.
Should we refrain from posting pictures of bridges?
Saying we shouldn’t post firearm photos because of gun homicides is like saying we shouldn’t post pictures of medical forceps because of prenatal infanticide. But forceps don’t kill babies — bad doctors do.
Note, too, that teens are shot to death continually in Chicago; Newark, N.J.; Detroit; East St. Louis, Ill., and other crime-plagued urban areas, creating a body count much higher than that from high-profile mass shootings. But these deaths aren’t as handy for propaganda purposes, and the media don’t devote much ink to them.
Publicized or ignored, however, we can be sure the solution isn’t gun-free zones, toy-weapon prohibitions, and puffed-up-chest virtue signaling.
Photo: BrianAsmussen/iStock/Getty Images Plus