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The Insane Punishment a School Gave a Teen Over a Water Gun

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Old 04-20-2017, 08:21 PM   #1
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Default The Insane Punishment a School Gave a Teen Over a Water Gun

David Rosenthal
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April 20, 2017 /

The 16-year-old girl said she put the water gun in her backpack and then, the same day, on the back seat of her car in the school parking lot.



What is the appropriate punishment for a high school student found on campus in possession of a water gun?

The Autauga County Board of Education, which covers communities near Montgomery, Alabama, decided that a 16-year-old girl with a water gun was in violation of the board’s firearms policy. So Sara Allena “Laney” Nichols received a one-year expulsion.

According to a report in the Montgomery Advertiser, Laney explained that she acquired the water gun “as a joke” from a male classmate in a school hallway.

The school’s security cameras captured footage of Laney holding the toy gun, but not of the male student holding it at any time. He received no punishment.

Laney said she put the water gun in her backpack and then, the same day, on the back seat of her car in the school parking lot. The water gun went unnoticed by the principal and school officials until a classmate reported to the administration a few days later that Laney had a gun.

School officials, following proper procedures, questioned Laney. She told them that the purported gun was really a water gun and was in her car, parked on school grounds, at that time. Confirming that Laney, in fact, possessed a harmless piece of plastic, school officials successfully cleared the threat.

Laney’s mother, Tara Herring, says her daughter got a 10-day suspension. Herring conceded that the black water gun may have looked like a real gun at first glance, but is made of plastic and clearly distinguishable the second someone touches it.

That could have been the end of the story, but the school board decided to hand down a one-year expulsion for Laney’s violation of the Parent/Student Code of Conduct, which classifies possession of a weapon as a “major offense” punishable by expulsion.

The board’s Policy Manual prohibits students from possessing firearms on school grounds, including cars parked in the school lot. “Any student who violates this policy shall be expelled for a period of one year,” it says.

The Policy Manual, however, also provides that the superintendent of schools “may modify the expulsion requirement on a case-by-case basis.” Thus far, Superintendent Spence Agee has declined to comment on the incident, although if he has any common sense, he’ll modify this draconian penalty.

Also at issue is whether Laney’s water gun even qualifies as a prohibited firearm under school board rules. The Code of Conduct broadly defines a firearm as an object that “is designed to, or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive charge or by compressed air or by spring action.”

A water gun could fall under this broad definition of a firearm only if water qualifies as a projectile and the plastic toy uses compressed air or a spring mechanism to release it. Surely, the board did not envision a harmless water gun when it adopted its firearm prohibition.

The Policy Manual provides an even stricter definition by adopting the definition of a firearm provided by federal law (18 U.S.C. § 921). Under the statute, a “firearm” is “any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive.” Notably, not a water gun.

As the New Jersey State Supreme Court once reasoned, the statute is “talking about a real gun capable of discharging a projectile of some sort, not talking about a toy gun, not talking about a water gun, not talking about a plastic gun that can’t fire a projectile” (State v. Gantt (1986).

Laney’s water gun is not a firearm under the adopted definition of Autauga County schools’ Policy Manual.

Education officials are understandably hypersensitive to threats of guns on campus, but the danger posed by real guns at school should not allow for a gross overreaction that could derail a student’s academic career.

Conflicting standards, overly broad definitions, and vague policies plague the criminal justice system with the possibility of absurd results. The same is happening here.

In this case, Agee should yield to reason, if not compassion, and use his discretion to modify the expulsion or yield to the statutory definition of a firearm to reduce the level of Laney’s offense.

Laney’s family has hired a lawyer and is threatening to sue if the school board does not act to remove the “scarlet letter E” (expulsion) from Laney’s record. It should not take a lawsuit to determine that a water gun is not a firearm.

A 16-year-old girl deserves more from America’s public education system than a one-year expulsion for possession of a water gun.



David Rosenthal is a visiting legal fellow in the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation.



http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/20/th...r-a-water-gun/
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Old 04-20-2017, 09:02 PM   #2
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The world is out of control. America is out of control. Any of us seventy years old or more remember a time when playing with toy guns or water guns, whether on the school grounds or in the neighborhood was normal play time. No one thought anything of it.
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Old 04-20-2017, 09:23 PM   #3
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Wet T shirt contest ?
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Old 04-20-2017, 09:37 PM   #4
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There should be no punishment for a plastic toy unless it was represented as a real gun as in a robbery.
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Old 04-20-2017, 09:59 PM   #5
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Somebody is about to get real familiar with the inside of a courtroom.
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Old 04-20-2017, 10:10 PM   #6
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if things go the way the rest this **** has of late, the superintendent will be in jail and this numb nuts student will be a multi-millionaire come graduation - - - oh to go back in time . . .
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Old 04-20-2017, 10:30 PM   #7
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This is the progress libs keep pushing, just wait until someone eats their Pop Tart in the shape of a gun...
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Old 04-20-2017, 10:52 PM   #8
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She would have been better off with a bomb...err, I mean clock.
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Old 04-21-2017, 10:41 AM   #9
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fu2, 'Fire" arms not found.
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Old 04-21-2017, 10:52 AM   #10
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We're not hearing the whole story. What was her history? Was she a good girl who dindu nuffin? What did the water gun look like? There are some water guns that look very close to a real gun. Was she going to use it pretending it was a real gun? (Very likely since when was the last time you heard of a 16 year old girl playing with a water gun AT SCHOOL)
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Old 04-21-2017, 01:25 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LarsAtTheBeach View Post
She would have been better off with a bomb...err, I mean clock.
Good One!
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Old 04-21-2017, 01:31 PM   #12
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This is NUCKIN FUTZ! I remember parking in the school parking lot with my deer rifle hanging in my gun rack for after school hunting! Early 80's by the way. What is this world coming too?
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Old 04-21-2017, 01:35 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcosta79 View Post
We're not hearing the whole story. What was her history? Was she a good girl who dindu nuffin? What did the water gun look like? There are some water guns that look very close to a real gun. Was she going to use it pretending it was a real gun? (Very likely since when was the last time you heard of a 16 year old girl playing with a water gun AT SCHOOL)
Fair points to bring up.

From what I read, as a her father, I'd be out for blood. This is massive over reaction. But like you said, this may not be the whole story.

But I don't trust schools and school administrations much more these days.
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Old 04-21-2017, 01:35 PM   #14
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Regardless of the school's over-reaction, WTF was she thinking to put the gun in plain sight in her car...
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Old 04-21-2017, 01:38 PM   #15
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Not enough information to make an accurate decision. Was this an evil black water gun? Was it an "assault style" water gun? Did the water gun have a high capacity water tank? I mean, seriously, this girl could have been capable of mass soakings. We must know the answers to these question!
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Old 04-21-2017, 01:43 PM   #16
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"...school officials successfully cleared the threat..."

No, dipshits - the threat is the school officials. Otherwise there was no threat!

If that happened to a kid in a school that my kid was attending, it would be tempting to pull my kid out of school and tell them he/she will return when the real threat to his/her wellbeing (i.e., idiots with authority) is removed from the school. What a great day it would be in this country if the parents got together and did that en masse. Call it "A day without people with common sense".
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Old 04-21-2017, 01:59 PM   #17
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We had guns and beer at high school in the 90's. Note, a bunch of corona gets hot in the trunk of a black car in florida. And in chem class we'd go to the empty football practice field, took 2L plastic bottles, filled with some alum foils trips, poured in muriatic acid, capped it, shook it, threw it and took notes and made a report. Also, fired estes rockets on campus too in physics class. Back when school sucked, but not as bad.

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