Connecticut High School Student Posts Picture Of Airsoft Gun That He Received As Birthday Present . . . Police Promptly Arrest Him and School Suspends Him

amity-regional-high-schoolDespite national outcry over the blind application of “zero tolerance” rules, school and police officials continue to throw kids into the criminal justice system without any logic or judgment.  The latest example is Zach Cassidento, a high school senior at Amity High Regional School who suspended and arrested after simply posted a picture of his birthday gift — an “Airsoft gun,” on Snapchat.  He was not charged but was suspended for a day from school.

We have previously followed the suspensions and discipline of students under zero tolerance policies that are used by teachers to justify zero judgment or responsibility. I have long criticized zero tolerance policies that have led to suspensions and arrests of children (here and here and here and here). Here is a prior column on the subject (and here).

Children have been suspended or expelled for drawing stick figures or wearing military hats or bringing Legos shaped like guns or playing with a stick gun or doodling or even having Danish in the shape of a gun or using menacing Level 2 finger guns. Despite the public outcry over the completely irrational and abusive application of zero tolerance rules, administrators and teachers continue to apply them blindly. If you do not have to exercise judgment, you can never be blamed for any failure. Conversely, even when the public outcry results in a reversals, teachers and administrators never seem punished with the same vigor for showing no judgment or logic in punishing a child.

Zach is one of millions of kids and adults who enjoy playing with Airsoft guns and posted the picture on his own time and on social media.  The punishment of students for expressing their interest or support for such lawful activities is highly troubling and raises seriously constitutional issues.

Amity Regional High School suspended Zach for one day for“disrupting the educational process” but the disruption was caused by the school, not Zach.

 

46 thoughts on “Connecticut High School Student Posts Picture Of Airsoft Gun That He Received As Birthday Present . . . Police Promptly Arrest Him and School Suspends Him”

    1. If people don’t understand that in this time and place posting a gun on social media is a dumb move at best—- we have problems. It becomes a school issue as soon as the issue is brought to someone at school. If you don’t think this disrupts a school day you haven’t been paying attention. A zero tolerance stand today on the heels of Parkland is understandable. Spend some time in a school and you will see things as they are. The student is 18 – old enough to know better- and if not by common sense then by the dozens of warnings over the years about responsible use on social media. Had he commented that it was a birthday gift and he was excited it may have ended differently. The ambiguity sunk him.

      1. Couldn’t disagree more. Neither you nor anyone else can gauge intent from the mere posting of a photo depicting an inanimate object with no implied or explicit intent associated therewith. I’m sorry but First Amendment rights are NOT suspended for the innocent because people are emotional over a senseless act committed by someone else. What’s more, the photo is of a toy. School officials knew it was a toy. Where is the common sense?

      2. I assume you’re trolling; but if not, I’d would point out to you that he didn’t post a “gun.” Pro tip: a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

        this is to “I love to post stupid sh*t just to see what happens” dee dee

  1. This can be a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. Section 1942 and associated statutes. The action against the citizen was taken by state actors acting under color of state law. They deprive dhim of civil rights such as the right to express himself under the First Amendment and the right to enjoy gun ownership under the Second Amendment. He can sue for damages, declaratory and injunctive relief and attornyes fees. The individuals are defendants and so is the school district.

    File now. Shoot later.

      1. Not a paintball gun. My son had an almost identical Airsoft gun. It has a rechargeable battery that powers a very small internal air compressor. The gun rapidly fires plastic BBs stored in the detachable magazine using air as the propellant.

        When he was in Jr. high school, my son and his buddies would choose up into opposing teams to plan and conduct military operations against one another using the Airsoft guns. They wore protective glasses. You know when you get hit with them but there is no injury. They had a blast with them.

  2. The March 16, 2018, edition of the school’s newspaper – The Amity Trident – carried an article titled “Amity Walks Out”, a story about the supposed student-led protest over guns. Per the article, Principal Anna Mahon said, “I am definitely very proud of the students’ response because it was respectful and appropriate. It is about working together and showing respect.” While teachers are not permitted to protest under Connecticut State laws, on Wednesday morning, many staff and faculty participated in a unified “walkin” before school to show that they stand with the students. Additionally, teachers were permitted to facilitate the walkout, and many expressed how moved they were at being able to witness the event. In the face of this obvious institutional bias against guns and gun ownership, young Zach Cassidento was punished. Not for making a threat against anyone but for simply posting a photo. Those same students should be walking out of school in protest over the administration’s assault on the first amendment rights of their fellow student.

  3. Absent explicit threatening language, I don’t understand how posting a photo of a rifle implies a threat of violence. A photo of an inanimate object alone does not imply intent. Had he posted a photo of a knife, a bow, or a vehicle – all of which have been used to kill – would the response have been the same? Only if the photo was accompanied by threatening language. Firearms are being singled out. My guess is that these situations are opportunities for retribution against those perceived to support the second amendment and gun ownership. The message is clear. Despite the Bill of Rights and the Supreme Court’s validation thereof, you will not explicitly or implicitly demonstrate affinity or support for firearms. Seems like an abridgement of the first amendment.

  4. News flash! School administrators aren’t the sharpest tacks in the box, and the inter-office memoranda they exchange with the compliance people in the superintendant’s office make them even dumber. It is disconcerting that they get police officers to chase their will ‘o the wisps. The police department’s total staffing (23 officers) suggest they have a mean of 5 on shift at any one time. Maytag repairmen, evidently.

    Unless the dean of students makes it a habit to dumpster dive in the social media of his charges, someone ratted out this kid to the principal. Who, and why?

  5. The “authorities” discovered the means and opportunity while there was no indication of “motive”.

    The “authorities” should be removed for gross incompetence with malicious intent.

    Terminate the malignant dominion of the teachers union.

    Annihilate all teachers unions.

    Make education local again.

    Close the Dept. of Education.

    Compel teachers to report to the local PTA – Parents-Taxpayers Association.

  6. According to the “story” reported in wtnh.com ( referenced by the professor ) “… Then they ( police ) called me because I had to meet them ( police ) at my home to have five officers come into my home and search my house…”

    The reported story does not “report” whether the search was conducted pursuant to a search warrant or whether Zach Cassidento’s mother, GraceAnne Cassidento, voluntarily consented to let five police officers search her home without a search warrant.

    Even if GraceAnne Cassidento were to have consented to let the five police officers voluntarily search her home, these facts show the degree to which the education bureaucracy, police and some citizens have traded a false and wishful sense of security for a loss freedom, if not constitutionally protected rights.

    Perhaps, this results from being conditioned to be afraid, always afraid.
    dennis hanna

    1. Five officers. It’s a small municipal force with just 23 sworn officers. Whoever was in charge must have dragooned just about every patrolman on shift into hunting down this goose.

  7. Oh, for God’s sake, can we please get schools to knock this off? This is straight out of Monty Python. Their blundering doesn’t make the school any safer. This is what happens when you ask a bureaucrat for solutions. Armed guards in schools! No! That would make them feel unsafe because there would be a weapon in the hands of a police officer at the school. The horror. Nerf guns, Air Soft guns, and fingers pretending to be guns, now that’s the real threat! Can you imagine if these people were in charge of airports? How they would have set up the TSA? There would be terrorist attacks daily. But we put them in charge of the safety of our kids? Who’s the crazy one, them, or us when we continue to give this behavior a pass? If someone on the street called the police because some child pointed a finger and said “pow”, they would be very gently sent for a nice lie down in a rubber room somewhere with a soothing cocktail of sedatives. Maybe some therapy.

    “Conversely, even when the public outcry results in a reversals, teachers and administrators never seem punished with the same vigor for showing no judgment or logic in punishing a child.” Right. There is no accountability when there is no meritocracy. The way we have allowed the public education system to run is not a meritocracy, and our children are paying for it.

    We live in a republic. When we’ve had enough, we can create change. This isn’t Venezuela. Had enough yet?

  8. Maybe this will encourage a few high schoolers that lionizing any guns – real or “toy” – may not be such a smart idea in this day and age of such savagery using guns. Plus toy guns for teenagers? Whatever happened to reading and music and hiking for fun?

    1. I can imagine all of your kind hding in little boxes made of ticky tacky and reciting pre approved answers to questions in unison. One and One Is Sometimes Two. Two and three is minus one

    2. Best sit down for this Maddoglaw, but a highlight of my youth was going to summer camp as a pre-teen where we learned how to shoot BB guns, the 60s version of an airsoft gun.

      No eyes were put out.

      1. Ash – we used to shoot BB guns at each other. We would wear winter coats with cardboard over them and shoot at each other. No eyes were put out. This was the 50s and we ‘free ranged.’

        1. At age 12 I shot my brother in the knee (through blue jeans) while he was charging at my (prone and concealed) position across a plowed cotton field. He went down in a heap; then jumped up and kept charging…

            1. He was mad, that’s for sure. I was so worried about getting in trouble for “corrupting” my younger brother into engaging in dangerous activities–not to mention shooting him in the knee with a BB gun–that I called it off; thankfully before the next volley….Funny thing is, he doesn’t recall the incident, while it’s engraved on my psyche….Who knows?

  9. One could argue that the “Civics Education” of America’s next generation of voters, bureaucrats and leaders is the #1 Issue in the United States. This story should be the top news story on the network news channels. More important than Trump’s antics or any foreign threat.

    This generation of “adults” have glady surrendered their Bill of Rights in exchange for the perception of better security (as Benjamin Franklin warned about). As of 2001, we have no Bill of Rights as an effective restraint on authoritarianism – it no longer exists.

    If this generation of adults choose to surrender our constitutional rule of law system, only the next generation can fix it. We are now teaching our kids to embrace unAmerican authoritarianism over a constitutional rule of law system.

    Public school officials swore a supreme loyalty to uphold the U.S. Constitution – which includes upholding the First Amendment rights of students.

    Ironically, it’s some teachers, parents and educators harming our children the most with these arbitrary, unconstitutional and unwritten laws. Educators should be teaching kids to reject this type of foreign style authoritarianism. This should be America’s #1 priority – teaching the next generation to restore our republic – if they don’t restore it, who will?

    1. The Bill of Rights and civil rights, all without exception, were traded officially after 9/11 in exchange for TSA level lock stepping.and codified in the Patriot Act.

      As to whoi will restore it. ‘”To support and defend The Constitution of The United States of America against all enemies foreign and domestic.” One version states to ‘preserve, support and defend.’ Thus it was a duty given to the US Military who upon deciding enough is enough to impose martial law complete with tribunals and drag the country back kicking and screaming or ejecting those who don’t agree. AND THEN reinstate a civil government.

      Should it come to that. and it is one reason why 80% of our combat arms started up ‘ballots not bullets’ and began, on their off duty time, training the population and that resulted the largest voting block for 2016.

      Seems our miltiary objected to training to shoot down fellow citizens and preferred to use less drastic measures BUT it also meant they did not pledge loyalty to the, then, President and that led to the ‘then’ PResident stating he wanted to turn DOHS into DISS fully armed equal to or greater than the Department of Defense. It’s called a protective echelon in German or Schutz Staffel or SS. and DISS is Directorate of Internal State Security. It’s also why the ‘then’ President would not declare martial law as he would have been the first one handcuffed.

      It did not stop him from expanding and lengthening the anti-terrorist procedures not accurately defining ‘terrorists’ nor excluding US Citizens but it did get rid of all civil rights and procedures for ‘terrorists’ using hte standard of ‘suspicion of’ instead of ‘probable cause.’

      Those rules are still on the books and still available to be used, if for example…….

      Civil insurrection by elements oif who refused to obey certain laws and insisted on protecting criminals.

      What it comes down to is a counter revolution sponsored and guided by elements of the military in support of their oath of office to ensure a representatice CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC prevailed over a Socialist Autocracy. Republic is latin for of, by, and for the citizens or the people. Chosen by the founders who completely rejected the notion of a Democracy as not enough to answer to the needs.

      Since then there has been NO Democracy in the United States of America but some who use it as cover to try and install a Socialist Autocracy.

      The action of the military proved Janet Napolitano was correct in stating the military was the greatest danger the government (the then present admininistration) faced.

      We listened, invoked our Oath of Office both actives and reserves, former and retirees and from that came Ballots Not Bullets and a call to defeat the one party one leader system of government

      And today as a result of bringing in an outsider we know have the FBI opening a new investigation of the Uranium deal, and the Justice Department already re-opening some other anti Constitutional efforts.

      Not without opposition but without Ballots Not Bullets it would still be covered up not to protect the nationa dn it’s Constitutional Republic but to protect those who were and are nothing more than enemies domestic.

      1. Under the Constitution revolutions are against the law even though one has been in progress since 1909. Therefore one of the points made was to refer to any actions as counter-revolutions and refer to the Oath of Office and with those unknown unsung heros of the miltitary the effort stayed legal.

        It has not been called off as of yet.

        1. Awesome. Riddle me this, Constitutional Scholar, what exactly was the turning point in 1909?

          this is to “have I got a cut-and-paste for you” mikey

  10. Around the issue of our weaponized society there revolve the extremes. An elementary school child uses his finger to shoot a pal-I grew up in an era of constant slaughter by ‘deaths by finger’ where magically the victims simply got up-and he or she is suspended. This child shares, with his friends, his new ‘toy’ and he is arrested. The Peter says he will fight to the death(s)-whose, the right for a madman to slaughter excessively instead of moderately. Idiots walk around with pistols strapped to their hips in case their ‘state’ is invaded by the Federal government, NATO troops, Martians, ???s. One can visit the ‘gun show’ and buy a weapon without a background check-a right The Peter will gladly sacrifice your life to defend.

    One doesn’t read about kids getting arrested for pointing their finger, sharing a photo of a toy, etc in our peer nations, where they seem to have sanity regarding guns. Could this be a uniquely American trait, our own distinct universe?

    Yup, we’re number one.

      1. Let me try using my AI Comment Translation tool to translate Isaac:

        Guns be bad, fingers be good, but not gun fingers, shoot shoot shoot, Nerf bad shoot shoot shoot, Trump fat dotard, me hate him, guns flux flux flux with me sooo smart good Isaac be full of brains.

        Hmmm. The program may need a little work, but I think it did manage to catch the Essence of Isaac.

        Squeeky Fromm
        Girl Reporter

  11. Also “Title 18 U.S. Code 242” may be used to criminally prosecute the school officials and other accessories. May be an easier criminal prosecution with this federal statute.

  12. The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department could criminally prosecute the school officials for violating 18 USC 245. There are also Title 42 statutes covering a “Pattern & Practice” of public corruption by school officials.

    If the DOJ won’t protect constitutional rights, parents could contact the ACLU affiliate in their state. ACLU attorneys sometimes go after “personal” assets of corrupt officials, not just suing the government agency.

    “Official” government activities are protected by Sovereign Immunity. Officials that violate their constitutional Oath of Office – like violating the 1st Amendment rights of students – can be sued for their “personal” assets (since unconstitutional activities are never “official” duties for any official). The ACLU has successfully sued for and obtained the “personal” damages from law enforcement personnel and other officials that violated their constitutional loyalty oath.

    Once these law breakers are held accountable, it will create a deterrent to those officials violating their constitutional loyalty oath.

    1. The ACLU does what Soros tells it to do since he funds them and would not take on such a case as it violates their version of the progressive future of socialism . ACLUeless when it comes to Constitutional Law. But worse is when they drag something like this before their bought and paid for judges. Come to think of it they are not judges for life they CAN be impeached and tried. Come to think of it twice they are not the last word on the law even at SCOTUS level.; Term Limits a good example. But it takes an Amendment To The Constitution to make that sort of change (same with this bleating about the Electoral College) although. since 10th Amendment is violated on Term Limits of STATE elected officials it shouldn’t need that step… but even so the mechanism is their only needs to be used. Which brings us back to the voting citizens of each State. and a small matter of getting off your couch potato asses and doing something instead of just talking about it.

    2. The ACLU has not backed someone on the right for years. They are completely on the “dark side” now. You need an organization like FIRE to go after the school.

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