In the aftermath of mass shootings like the murders in Newtown, Connecticut, one can expect two things with the certainty of death and taxes: copycats and overreaction. I’ll confine this article to overreaction, which is not confined to either side of the political spectrum.
Progressives–particularly those in education–tend to overreact by branding even the faintest hint of a firearm an “assault weapon,” and by treating six year-old girls the way they refuse to treat adult thugs. Thus in recent days, as I’ve chronicled on this scruffy little blog, we have seen very young children, children who cannot possibly understand the political and social implications swirling around the gun control debate, treated as felons, suspended from school, and even expelled from school for such crimes as threatening to “shoot” herself and a classmate with bubbles from a Hello Kitty bubble gun (it was pink, of course), having a paper gun–a paper depiction of a gun–on a desktop, pointing a finger at a classmate and saying “pow,” and pointing fingers at each other while playing cops and robbers during recess.
Conservatives have overreacted by suggesting that those who have sworn oaths to uphold and defend the Constitution actually, well, uphold and defend the Constitution. And they’ve been completely unreasonable by suggesting that the 20,000+ gun laws already on the books actually be enforced. And they’ve gone completely off the deep end by suggesting that proposed laws that would do nothing to prevent criminal misuse of guns and would only harass the law abiding not be enacted in haste. Predictable.
I’ve been surprised, however, of late, by the sheer number of educators diving head first into a steaming vat of looney. It seems the inability to accurately remain within the boundaries of reality is no longer confined to Maryland and Pennsylvania; it has moved to South Carolina where six year-old Naomi McKinney has been expelled from Kindergarten. As local station, WLTX reports:
The problem began when Naomi grabbed her brother’s toy gun to bring in for show and tell.
‘I chose to bring it to school because I thought I could show my friends it because they might like seeing it,’ Naomi explains.
Her dad, Hank, says he and her mother didn’t see what she choose to bring until getting a call from the school.
‘The school needed me down there that my daughter was fixing to be expelled,’ he says. ‘I got in the car and rushed down there and when I got in there the principal told me that she had a gun at school and she pulls it out and it is a little clear plastic gun.
Surely Hank must be exaggerating. No rational adult would expel a six year old girl for bringing a little clear plastic gun to school for show and tell–would they? Surely little Naomi must have brought a real handgun, or at least something that closely resembled a real handgun in size and configuration? Surely she must have been pointing it at others, making threats, or disrupting the school in some significant way?
News19 asked the Sumter County School District for a picture or description of the gun but said they would not release that information because it is part of the child’s discipline record, which they do not disclose.
Could the school district be hiding the evidence to avoid embarrassment? There must be more to this situation, something that’s not obvious. What sane adult would expel a little girl for this?
You have to show some kind of judgment,’ Hank McKinney says. ‘I know there is a lot going on with guns and schools and that is tragic but a six year old bringing a toy to school doesn’t know better.
Well, Hank has a point. What six year-old could understand the issues involved? It almost seems the school district has no sense of proportion. And what about Naomi? If it’s really all about the children, what’s become of her?
Instead of being in school, Naomi now is spending her time at her dad’s furniture store.
The Sumter County School District weapon policy says the presence of weapons or look-a-likes is not allowed, stating the board will expel any student who brings a weapon to school.
Ah ha! There’s a policy! She brought a “weapon” to school! Well, that settles it, doesn’t it?
I’m sorry anything can be a weapon,’ Hank says. ‘A pencil is more of a weapon than the toy gun she brought to school.
But surely there are reasonable, sane adults in this school district. When the McKinneys appeal the matter to more experienced, more rational people…
The Mckinneys tried to appeal to the discipline hearing panel, but received a letter stating Naomi is not allowed on school property or at any school sponsored event on or off campus. She is subject to criminal charges if she’s caught trespassing.
Naomi is not allowed to be on school property, even when her parents are picking up her siblings, so they have to park off school property.
That can’t be right…
She will be assigned a home-based instructor from the school district. The Sumter School District says they take any potential threat very seriously and will remain vigilant in creating a safe and secure environment.
Let me see if I have this straight: A six year-old girl took a little, clear plastic toy gun to school for show and tell. There is no accusation that she made threats, hurt anyone, or disrupted the school in any way. There is apparently no way the toy could be mistaken for an actual firearm, nor could it in any way be used as a weapon, yet the “educators” of the Sumter County School district have chosen to expel this harmless little girl and threaten her with arrest–with arrest–should she so much as cross a school property boundary in a car driven by her parents.
Is it truly possible adults, adults with college educations, cannot tell the difference between a toy and an actual weapon? Is it truly possible they believe this little girl an actual danger to her school such that she must be expelled and threatened with arrest? Is it possible the “educators” of this school district truly have no ability to identify actual danger? Is it truly possible they believe that in treating Naomi McKinney as a felon they are “creating a safe and secure environment?”
So it seems. I’ve e-mailed Randolph D. Bynum, the Superintendent of the school district in the hope of receiving a response. Should Mr. Bynum respond, I’ll print his response verbatim. I will not, however, be holding my breath.
Should you, gentle readers, care to express your concerns to Mr. Bynum–politely, please–his e-mail address is: