The First and Second Amendments are under heavy attack by the radical left. We see this leftist nonsense to squelch free speech and abridge gun rights every day. The following story combines constitutional attacks on the First, Second, Fourth—and probably Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments against a public middle school student.
Now, I will concede that public school officials can argue that they have no idea what to do anymore—mostly, because of other public school officials who adopt stupid policies. We critics often say, “Just use common sense.” Well, much of the problem these days is that commonsensical school officials are not allowed to apply their common sense. In fact, school districts often mandate ludicrous policies that force officials to act in direct contravention to common sense or risk losing their jobs or worse. Remember the second-grader who got “dispended” because he threw an invisible grenade to rescue the world? Still, that does not mean we should stop fighting to make sure common sense prevails.
So, in this story on the NRA-ILA website, according to WBRC Fox 19 News in Trenton, Ohio, middle school student Zachary Bowlin got himself suspended for violating the school board’s “zero tolerance” policy. The policy prohibits, “violent, disruptive, harassing, intimidating, bullying, or any other inappropriate behavior by its students.” What heinous act did Zach commit to elicit such wrath from school superintendent Russ Fussnecker? After school one evening, at home, while perusing the Instagram social media website, Zach had the unmitigated audacity to “Like” a picture of an Airsoft gun—a toy. No, really!
For those unfamiliar with Airsoft guns, the name implies its function. It uses air to propel a soft projectile (the size of a pea). The guns are plastic and the projectiles (bullets) are designed not to injure participants. I know: my kids used them as toys when they were kids and I used them for training as a police officer.
According to the article, the photo Zachary “liked” was of a “plastic gun on the table, with the caption, “Ready.” You might wonder if this social media “like” was just one facet of a multifaceted set of nefarious circumstances that created suspicion about the student. Nope. That was it; Zach “liked” a picture of a toy on social media. WBRC reported, “Superintendent Russ Fussnecker essentially admitted that the school’s reaction was based only on the picture.”
Let’s look at the bright side: Zach is getting a civics lesson, thanks to his overreacting, overreaching school officials: One, his First Amendment rights were violated when the district punished him for expressing his point of view. He let people know he liked a picture (it could be argued that his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights were also violated when he was suspended without due process). Two, the Second Amendment was effectively violated, being tarnished when a toy facsimile of a firearm became the focal point of Zachary’s discipline.
Now, for constitutional violation number three: The Fourth Amendment prohibition against unlawful searches and seizures. According to the article, “The next morning, Zachary told a WBRC reporter, school officials, ‘called me down… patted me down and checked me for weapons, then they told me I was getting expelled or suspended or whatever.’” Where was the warrant? Where was the probable cause? Where was the reasonable suspicion? (Where is the ACLU?) And, finally, where was the common sense?