Arizona School Suspends High School Student For Picture of Gun

article-2273230-1757A615000005DC-561_634x354We have yet another case of the “zero tolerance” policies being imposed in our school as an excuse of zero judgment or though by school officials.We have been discussing the steady stream of absurd actions taken by school officials under “zero tolerance” policies. For a prior column, click here. Now, Daniel McClaine Jr., a freshman at Poston Butte High School in Florence, Arizona, has been suspended for simply choosing a picture of a gun as a desktop background his computer.

A teacher noticed the picture on his school-issued computer. It shows an AK-47 on top of a flag. He was immediately suspended for three days under a policy that prohibits “sending or displaying offensive messages or pictures” and prohibits access, sending, creating or forwarding pictures that are considered “harassing, threatening, or illegal.”

The problem is that many people do not consider a picture of a gun to be threatening or harassing. It happens to be an object that the Supreme Court in Heller said was protected as an individual right under the Second Amendment. Of course, it could be argued, pornography is protected under the first amendment but restricted in terms of persons and places where it can be seen. Yet, the image of a gun alone is not viewed by many Americans as threatening as opposed to protective or patriotic. The school’s position appears to be that any picture of a gun is inherently an image of violence. There are a variety of images that may be read differently by students from pictures of Obama to protest pictures of torture or pictures of whaling. Likewise, there are pictures like the Iwo Jima memorial or revolutionary images that involve guns. The question is whether such a policy is intentionally vague to allow arbitrary or absolute regulation of this form of speech.

My concern is more with the blind application of the policy. I see no problem with the school asking the student to remove the picture or calling in his parents. However, the use of a suspension is problematic.

What do you think?

Source: Daily Mail

37 thoughts on “Arizona School Suspends High School Student For Picture of Gun”

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  3. I am currently a student at a private school for my RN degree. I was sitting in class on break with my phone out showing a friend an app that I downloaded. The app was a picture of a gun and it produced a sound when i pressed the screen. It wasn’t even a realistic sound. A fellow classmate told my Program Director that she felt in harms way and threatened by my application. She even went as far as to say that I threatened other classmates with it. I have been placed on academic dismissal for what happened pending an investigation. I did not say what it was my classmate said I stated, but nevertheless I am very scared. I only have 3 months left of school that I have spent more that $40,000 dollars to attend. I am a combat veteran, prior law enforcement officer, husband and father. I have never been in trouble before in my life. However, the way this county has been acting over “gun control” and the fear it produces, my whole life is on the line. Just thought I would share. My name is Daniel and I live in Tampa, Fl. if anyone has any real advise please contact me at If you just want to send me negative comments, please don’t. I will just mark them as spam and ignore you. Thank you

  4. Otteray Scribe
    1, February 4, 2013 at 10:36 am

    “Never mind gun owners, I am leaning toward mental screening for teachers and administrators who cannot seem to tell the difference between reality and virtual reality.”

    The trouble is, if you fired every education school graduate who never learned the difference between symbols and reality, you’d lose at least 75% of the teachers. And since SAT and GRE scores consistently show that school administration majors are even stupider than the education majors, the janitor would be running the school. (That might be an improvement.)

  5. JH,

    It’s not even paper. It’s digital.


    That spells “gun”.

  6. AP,

    Thanks for the Rutherford essay. A shame that these things are not on MSM every day. WTF can be done. Parents can protest at the risk of being classified as “terrorists”.

    “Consequently, school officials, attempting to both protect and control young people, have adopted draconian zero tolerance policies, stringent security measures and cutting-edge technologies that have all but transformed the schools into quasi-prisons.”

    To that and the rest, I say: “Is not that the purpose of it all?

    Who needs 9/11 when we got school shootings to deter—-along with all exercise of civil liberties.

    Wonder when it spreads to other countries?
    Fornicating if you got one is still OK in Sweden. At least not officially banned by schools.

    A recent local paper article highlighted Podcasts, including the headliner of
    3 girls and a boy in their teens discussing sex in a laundry room (apartment house). We are going to hell, as some would claim, but meanwhile opening the channels for communication between girls and boys, and reducing teen age abortions.

    Do better than that if you can.

  7. The Zero Intelligence Policy is alive and well – in the schools at least.
    Good on you teachers and school administrators. Taking the lead and showing how it’s done.

  8. Majoring in Minors: Turning Our Schools into Totalitarian Enclaves

    By John W. Whitehead
    February 04, 2013

    “Unfortunately, children do not organize, have no access to the media, and do not vote. They are relatively powerless to improve their own condition. Children need adults who will advocate for them.”—Professor David Elkind, Tufts University

    Just as the 9/11 terrorist attacks created a watershed between the freedoms we enjoyed and our awareness of America’s vulnerability to attack, so the spate of school shootings over the past 10-plus years from Columbine to Newtown has drastically altered the way young people are perceived and treated, transforming them from innocent bystanders into both victims and culprits. Consequently, school officials, attempting to both protect and control young people, have adopted draconian zero tolerance policies, stringent security measures and cutting-edge technologies that have all but transformed the schools into quasi-prisons.

    In their zeal to make the schools safer, school officials have succumbed to a near-manic paranoia about anything even remotely connected to guns and violence, such that a child who brings a piece of paper loosely shaped like a gun to school is treated as harshly as the youngster who brings an actual gun. Yet by majoring in minors, as it were, treating all students as suspects and harshly punishing kids for innocent mistakes, the schools are setting themselves and us up for failure—not only by focusing on the wrong individuals and allowing true threats to go undetected but also by treating young people as if they have no rights, thereby laying the groundwork for future generations that are altogether ignorant of their rights as citizens and unprepared to defend them.

    Nowhere is this more evident than in the increasingly harsh punishments and investigative tactics being doled out on young people for engaging in childish behavior or for daring to challenge the authority of school officials. Whereas in the past minor behavioral infractions at school such as shooting spitwads may have warranted a trip to the principal’s office, in-school detention or a phone call to one’s parents, today, they are elevated to the level of criminal behavior with all that implies. Consequently, young people are now being forcibly removed by police officers from the classroom, strip searched, arrested, handcuffed, transported in the back of police squad cars, and placed in police holding cells until their frantic parents can get them out. For those unlucky enough to be targeted for such punishment, the experience will stay with them long after they are allowed back at school. In fact, it will stay with them for the rest of their lives in the form of a criminal record.

    Consider the case of Wilson Reyes, a seven-year-old elementary school student from the Bronx who got into a scuffle with a classmate over a $5 bill. In response to the incident, school officials called police, who arrested Reyes, transported him to the police station and allegedly handcuffed the child to a wall and interrogated him for ten hours about his behavior and the location of the money. His family is in the midst of pursuing a lawsuit against the police and the city for their egregious behavior.

    A North Carolina public school allegedly strip-searched a 10-year-old boy in search of a $20 bill lost by another student, despite the fact that the boy, J.C., twice told school officials he did not have the missing money. The assistant principal, a woman, reportedly ordered the fifth grader to disrobe down to his underwear and subjected him to an aggressive strip-search that included rimming the edge of his underwear. The missing money was later found in the school cafeteria.

    And in Chicago, a 15-year-old boy accused by an anonymous tipster of holding drugs was taken to a locker room by two security guards, a Chicago police officer, and a female assistant principal, and made to stand against a wall and drop his pants while one of the security guards inspected his genitals. No drugs were found.

    That students as young as seven years old are being strip searched by school officials, over missing money no less, flies in the face of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2009 ruling in Safford Unif. Sch. Dist. v. Redding. Insisting that Arizona school officials violated the Fourth Amendment rights of a 13-year-old girl when they strip-searched her on the suspicion she was hiding ibuprofen in her underwear, the justices declared that educators cannot force children to remove their clothing unless student safety is at risk.

    Precedent-setting or not, however, the Court’s ruling has done little to improve conditions for young people who are the unfortunate casualties in the schools’ so-called quest for “student safety.” Indeed, with each school shooting, the climate of intolerance for “unacceptable” behavior such as getting into food fights, playing tag, doodling, hugging, kicking, and throwing temper tantrums only intensifies. And as surveillance cameras, metal detectors, police patrols, zero tolerance policies, lock downs, drug sniffing dogs and strip searches become the norm in elementary, middle and high schools across the nation, the punishments being meted out for childish behavior grow harsher.

    Even the most innocuous “infractions” are being shown no leniency, with school officials expelling a 6-year-old girl for bringing a clear plastic toy gun to school, issuing a disciplinary warning to a 5-year-old boy who brought a toy gun built out of Legos to class, and pulling out of school a fifth-grade girl who had a “paper” gun with her in class. The six-year-old kindergarten student in South Carolina was classified as such a threat that she’s not even allowed on school grounds. “She cannot even be in my vehicle when I go to pick up my other children,” said the girl’s mom, Angela McKinney.

    Nine-year-old Patrick Timoney was sent to the principal’s office and threatened with suspension after school officials discovered that one of his LEGOs was holding a 2-inch toy gun. That particular LEGO, a policeman, was Patrick’s favorite because his father is a retired police officer. David Morales, an 8-year-old Rhode Island student, ran afoul of his school’s zero tolerance policies after he wore a hat to school decorated with an American flag and tiny plastic Army figures in honor of American troops. School officials declared the hat out of bounds because the toy soldiers were carrying miniature guns. A 7-year-old New Jersey boy, described by school officials as “a nice kid” and “a good student,” was reported to the police and charged with possessing an imitation firearm after he brought a toy Nerf-style gun to school. The gun shoots soft ping pong-type balls.

    School officials are also exhibiting zero tolerance for the age-old game of cops and robbers, a playground game I played as a child. In a new wrinkle on this old game, however, it’s not the cop who gets the bad guy. Now, the game ends when school officials summon real cops who arrest the kindergartners for engaging in juvenile crime. That happened at a New Jersey school, from which four little boys were suspended for pretending their fingers were guns. Most recently, two children at two different schools in Maryland were suspended in the same month for separate incidents of pretending their fingers were guns. In another instance, officials at a California elementary school called police when a little boy was caught playing cops and robbers at recess. The principal told the child’s parents their child was a terrorist.

    Unwittingly, the principal was right on target: These are acts of terrorism, however, the culprits are not overactive schoolchildren. Rather, those guilty of terrorizing young children and parents nationwide are school officials who—in an effort to enforce zero tolerance policies against violence, weapons and drugs—have moved our schools into a lockdown mentality.

    Things have gotten so bad that it doesn’t even take a toy gun, pretend or otherwise, to raise the ire of school officials. A high school sophomore was suspended for violating the school’s no-cell-phone policy after he took a call from his father, a master sergeant in the U.S. Army who was serving in Iraq at the time. A 12-year-old New York student was hauled out of school in handcuffs for doodling on her desk with an erasable marker. In Houston, an 8th grader was suspended for wearing rosary beads to school in memory of her grandmother (the school has a zero tolerance policy against the rosary, which the school insists can be interpreted as a sign of gang involvement). And in Oklahoma, school officials suspended a first grader simply for using his hand to simulate a gun.

    With the distinctions between student offenses erased, and all offenses expellable, we now find ourselves in the midst of what Time magazine described as a “national crackdown on Alka-Seltzer.” Indeed, at least 20 children in four states have been suspended from school for possession of the fizzy tablets in violation of zero tolerance drug policies. In some jurisdictions, carrying cough drops, wearing black lipstick or dying your hair blue are actually expellable offenses.

    Students have also been penalized for such inane “crimes” as bringing nail clippers to school, using Listerine or Scope, and carrying fold-out combs that resemble switchblades. A 9-year-old boy in Manassas, Virginia, who gave a Certs breath mint to a classmate, was actually suspended, while a 12-year-old boy who said he brought powdered sugar to school for a science project was charged with a felony for possessing a look-alike drug. Another 12-year-old was handcuffed and jailed after he stomped in a puddle, splashing classmates. After students at a Texas school were assigned to write a “scary” Halloween story, one 13-year-old chose to write about shooting up a school. Although he received a passing grade on the story, school officials reported him to the police, resulting in his spending six days in jail before it was determined that no crime had been committed.

    These incidents, while appalling, are the byproducts of an age that values security over freedom, where police have relatively limitless powers to search individuals and homes by virtue of their badge, and where the Constitution is increasingly treated as a historic relic rather than a bulwark against government abuses. Where we go from here is anyone’s guess, but the future doesn’t look good from where I’m sitting—not for freedom as we know it, and certainly not for the young people being raised on a diet of abject compliance to police authority, intolerance for minor offenses, overt surveillance and outright totalitarianism.

  9. “My concern is more with the blind application of the policy. I see no problem with the school asking the student to remove the picture or calling in his parents. However, the use of a suspension is problematic.

    What do you think?”

    Yes you are correct of course. Common sense would dictate that the kid just be asked to remove it and not put it back up. End of story.

    What this story shows(together with the previous one where the 6 yo was expelled for a politically incorrect toy in her possession) is that there is a little band of teachers and education administrators out there who are both out of touch with reality as well as complete imbeciles. But then you do not need to be Einstein to figure that most school teachers are not the brightest bubs in the room.

  10. pete,

    As a fat man who was once a little boy, I must strongly protest your last joke.


    Sidney Greenstreet

  11. Those are my words. The quotation mark might give another impression. So complaints should be addressed to me.

    Nighty night. Ir is 1 AM here.

  12. Here is a post looking for a home. It’s value maybe eternal, but my hopes are that you will use it today or soon, at the very least.

    “Today, do you know what today is? Today is the 100 birthday of Rosa Parks, the first black woman to lie in lit de parade in the Capitol Dome.
    She also was a child who sat with her daddy with his gun on the porch at night to keep the KKK away. The woman who refused to give up her seat in the bus to a white man.

    Her story is quickly accessible in Democracy Now org in today’s program devoted to “The Rebellious Mrs Rosa Parks” herself, and the book written by Jeanne Theoharris, professor at Brooklyn College, who is the person who delivers Mrs Parks story, engaged, clearly having chosen to believe what her research has shown her, and skillfully interviewed with spare questions by Mrs DN herself.

    You know, we all have our personal vision of where “black power” is today.
    From welfare moms promoters, to quota climbers, to a “proud part” of our history. This program will not address these other than indirectly, and the book likewise one presumes. But the point is made that the Koolaid we drink today is not the lemonade we thought we were drinking.

    It tells the detailed story using one woman’s activities, her history, etc as a vehicle for delivering a gripping and hopefully truthful view of how it really was in the 50+ year struggles following “Brown vs School Board” decision in 1954.

    So very, very much to add. From the inter-racial folk school where the likes of Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt, and many others were to discuss these and other issues IN TENNESSEE!!!! to a new young preacher whose centrally located church in Montgomery was chosen to house the discussion, after the service, on how to keep the bus boycott alive for the 13 months it lasted.
    The sermon was by MLKjr who got his start there that day in the public arena.

    Rosa was there and supporting everywhere, and even more so when she was forced to leave Montgomery for Detroit. She even got MLKjr to come support the first black to be elected to Congress from Michigan, something that MLKjr never did otherwise.

    She was anti-Vietnam long before MLKjr, and fought many of the battles which were vital at the times. Her deeds are almost memorialized by the freeing/commutation of the Wilmington NNN’s by the NC governor recently.

    Treat yourself at least to the program on DN org today 4 February 2013.
    In these times of propaganda, a breath of truth is VERY refreshing.
    Breathe deeply.

  13. OS @12:18 pm

    i doubt any of the teachers know what those are. although he might get in trouble for calling the one “fat man”.

  14. Just for the hell of it I will disagree with Rafflaw. Just because the school provides a room where study/teaching may occur, or books approved for study, it does not therewith have the power to regulate the speech content, the thought content, etc of the students using these facilities.

    What is a school for if not for teaching and thinking. From Socrates forward úntil Constantine came and destroyed the academies of the time.

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