A high school in New Jersey is making national headlines after it allegedly suspended two students over a photo taken during a family visit to a shooting range.
There’s really no more to it than that. NJ.com reported that a photo was shared on SnapChat that showed the students with “four rifles, ammunition clips and a gun duffle with the caption ‘fun day at the range.'”
Apparently, this violates the school’s policy on weapon possession, which says students can be in possession of any kind of weapon on or off school property.
According to this story on foxnews.com, the two unnamed students received a five-day in-school suspension after the photo drew the attention of Lacey Township High School officials.
The story says the school district quickly faced community backlash over the suspension, with many calling for people to appear at the next school-board meeting today to protest the decision.
But the plot thickens. The school flat-out denies that the students were suspended because of the photo in question, according to the story.
“Information posted on social media is incorrect,” Lacey schools Superintendent Craig Wigley told the publication last week. The officials declined to provide any additional details or point out what exactly was false.
The Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs (ANJRPC) said in a letter to the school district that the school’s policies allow suspending students 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.”
“The policy is clearly wrong and violates the Second Amendment. We hope that they’re reasonable people and they will fix it. If they don’t we’re prepared to take legal action,” ANJRPC executive director Scott Bach told NJ.com.
“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,” Bach added. “I don’t care if no students were disciplined. The policy has got to go.”
The Fox story says this isn’t the first time the district has been criticized of overly broad policies.
Ed Cardinal, whose son goes to a school in the same district, said officials once demanded his son remove a window sticker of a firearm from his pickup truck.
They removed the sticker, after the district threatened to punish the teenager.
“Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs is prepared to sue if the school district refuses to do the right thing,” Bach said in this story from ammoland.com.
Regardless of why the unnamed students were suspended, the school’s policy does appear to be extremely broad, as Bach says.
The exact text from the Lacey Township High School handbook reads:
“Possessions of Weapons – In accordance with the Safe Schools Initiative, the Zero Tolerance For Guns Act, P.L. 1995 and its companion C. 128 and the Lacey Township School Board’s Zero Tolerance Policy, any student who is reported to be in possession of a weapon of any type for any reason or purpose whether on or off school grounds during the academic year shall be disciplined as follows:
“A. Long term suspension; B. Evaluation by the high school Child Study Team; C. Recommended by the administration to the Board of Education for suspension for at least 1 year.”
By the letter of the school’s policy, a student could be punished with as much as a year’s suspension and forced to undergo an evaluation for legally hunting, even with a bow and arrow. This includes any 18-year-old students, who are legally adults.