Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Guns in School: A LTE in Greater Minnesota

This was a LTE in the McLeod County Chronicle.

According to the LTE, the Glencoe Silver Lake School District handled two separate gun incidents at their school completely different.
In November, at a school function, a student took a gun and proceeded to
cock and fire it at several fellow-students - as three teachers watched. (The
person who described the scene to me had handled and used firearms, so the
witness knew what a gun looks like.)

What type of gun it was is unclear, but irrelevant. Because the "weapon,"
and the way in which it was used, are defined and banned in GSL's weapons
policy. And that zero-tolerance policy requires instant suspension of the
student and a reporting of the incident to the police.

So, what happened? Nothing.

A citizen (not the teachers who saw it) eventually reported the matter. But
nothing ever happened to the student, a top scholar from a family with influence
and visibility in the community. And though the district was asked for an
explanation of its seeming inaction, there has been no response.

As opposed to...
A sophomore, an average student (with no discipline problems) from a quiet
family, discovered at a football game that in his jacket pocket was a home-made
toy he'd failed to leave at home.

The toy had been made from a contact-solution bottle, a pen barrel and a
spark source. With the aid of a puff of hair spray, the device could pop a bit
of apple or potato no further than I can spit - with as much impact. Notably, at
that football game, the device contained neither spray nor apple.

The student, never suspecting that he held a "weapon," showed it to some
buddies. A member of the school staff happened to see this, became alarmed,
decided the benign toy was a "weapon," and went into crisis mode. Now the
student was in trouble. Big trouble.

The student was promptly suspended from school, and the incident was
reported to the police. The administration then figuratively circled its wagons,
refusing to allow that it might have overreacted to a harmless toy that didn't
even look like a weapon.

Why was this handled differently? The obvious connection made in the LTE was the fact that the kid in November was a socialite whereas the kid from two years ago was your average run of the mill student.

Zero tolerance along lines of race, class or gender?

I can remember, as a kid in North Dakota, I'd see pickup's with hunting rifles and shotguns in the gun racks of pickups in the student parking lot.

I understand that it is also not acceptable today.

But the LTE hit me on two fronts.

First and foremost, a school shooting could occur anywhere, it happened near St Cloud a few years ago.

Secondly, how can their be two standards for dealing with students possessing "weapons" on a high school campus?

The GSL school district has enough problems, the last thing they need to deal with are different standards amongst their students.

1 comment:

deadissue.com said...

Nice comparison. All about time and place I suppose. I remember reading about down south, they've been taking out elementary school kids in cuffs for acting up.