New Jersey’s Hunterdon Central Regional High School rejected one student’s photography project by 15-year old Joshua Bruner, claiming that it violated school policy. Bruner’s project included a self-portrait of the boy on top of an off-roader, carrying a flag into the wind and posing with his shotgun.
Although young, Bruner is a lifetime member of the NRA, a competitive shooter and a Marine hopeful. With the help of friends he staged the photo shoot as part of an assignment in his photography class to produce a self-portrait to express himself.
Speaking to Todd Starnes at Fox News his mother Darcy Meys said that “Josh considers himself to be a patriot. He loves his country.”
In the end, the school offered a compromise, to accept and grade the photography project but not to put it on display online with other students’ projects.
“He will not be able to upload the image to our server, post them to his Google site or display them in his presentation,” said his teacher, according to the report. “We would like to recognize his work on the portrait but limit the possibility that the photo can be taken out of context.”
“Josh was just showing pride for his country and who he is as a shooter and as a kid who wants to be in the Marines and protect his country and follow in his grandfather’s footsteps,” said his mother. “They are crushing his spirit. They are stifling his creativity.”
Unfortunately, the school’s policy prevents any display of any student or anyone else with any weapons. At the same time youth shooting programs are increasingly popular across the country thanks to organizations like the Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation (SSSF).
Sporting clays and other shotgun games are quickly gaining a following across the country, even overtaking basketball in Minnesota as the second most popular high school sport after football.
The SSSF works with schools and students in over 40 states and helps provide a path for youths looking to compete in the Olympic games. As of last year over 13,000 students were enrolled in SSSF shooting programs.
“What separates shooting sports from stick-and-ball sports is that when it’s time for our kids to go to a tournament, all the kids can compete—heavy, thin, tall, short, fast, slow, boy or girl—it doesn’t make them any different,” said Tom Wondrash, SSSF national director to the Washington Times. “That’s what really lends itself to our sport.”
With shooting sports returning to schools as extra-curricular activities these hard-line zero-tolerance policies will only draw more public ire. It’s hard to imagine anyone taking this photo out of context—it’s just a kid, being proud and looking cool.