Saturday, May 17, 2014

Second and First Amendment Win in Chicago School

On May 6th,  Chris Borg, 18 wore the T-shirt pictured above to Hinsdale Township High School.   A hall monitor stopped Mr. Borg.  He was told the T-shirt violated the school dress code.  From the Chicago Tribune:

Supt. Bruce Law said the T-shirt is a violation of the dress code outlined in the school's handbook.

The handbook states that students are subject to disciplinary action when they wear clothing that "is deemed vulgar, inappropriate, unsafe or disruptive to the educational process (e.g., advertising/display of alcohol, drugs, tobacco, sexual innuendo).

Borg said he was told the T-shirt was unsafe and disruptive.
Mr. Borg said that the school violated his First Amendment rights.  If it was permissible to have pictures of weapons in books, how could this simple image, which was not advocating any violence, be unsafe or disruptive?  Mr. Borg appealed his suspension to the Hinsdale School Board, which vindicated him, ordered the suspension removed from his permanent record, and changed Supt. Bruce Law's attitude about the image.  From the

In the future, Law said the district will try to distinguish between gun-related images that are lawful and do not promote violence and ones that promote violence or illegal activity.

Other images of guns that would be acceptable on clothing would be for branches of the armed services, Law said.

"A lawful activity like a gun club or a military institution is different than an unlawful activity that promotes violence," Law said.
Second Amendment  supporters have always held that the First and Second Amendments reinforce each other.   Predictably, Second Amendment opponents also oppose the First Amendment, when people say things that they disagree with.   Mary Tyler Mom, clearly a nom de plume, does not like the message that Chris Borg is promoting about the First and Second Amendments.  From
First amendment, schmirst schmendment. This kid went in front of the School Board to assert that his first amendment rights were being violated. "I decided to go home for the day because I felt it was a infringement of my First Amendment right to freedom of expression," he told the board. What, exactly, was this student attempting to express by wearing the inflammatory image of an AK-47 on his t-shirt?
  As you might guess, Ms Mom doesn't really have an argument.  She simply states, over and over:
Guns have no place in our schools. I don't know what else to say about this. Guns and schools do not mix. End of story.
 But this is demonstrably absurd.   Guns  had an honored place in American schools for  centuries.   Gun safety was  taught in schools, schools had rifle teams, Schools had ranges built into them,  students built guns in shop class.   Students brought guns to school to be used for hunting after class.  All of this commonly occurred before the Federal government  passed the Gun Free School  Act in 1994.

Since the passage of that act during the Clinton Presidency, the number of school shootings has skyrocketed.  From 1900 to 1994, there were no mass shootings in schools (there were a couple outside of schools).  From 1994 to 2014, there were 13 mass shootings inside of schools.

A repeal of the insane 1994 Gun Free School Act and the 1996 Gun Free School Zone Acts are in order.  They never made any sense other than to demonize the possession and use of guns.  Since their passage, school mass shootings have increased.

 I applaud the common sense of the Hinsdale School Board.  It shows a growing trend of respect for Constitutional rights and the rule of law in the general population.

It took courage for Chris Borg to challenge the policy.  A permanent mark on his record, in this day of the Internet and powerful search engines, is not the same as one on a high school record from 1965.   Today that record really is permanent, and could cause loss of opportunity from unthinking prejudice for the rest of  his life.

Children should be taught respect for guns and how to use them responsibly.  The gun culture in the United States has an excellent track record on gun safety and responsible use.   Gun accidents in the  United States have leveled out at an all time low.  Homicide levels have dropped to the levels seen in  the 1950s.  It is the gang culture that is creates crime in the United States, not the gun culture.

 ©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.  Link to Gun Watch

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