‘Progressive’ Private School Suspends Student for Three Weeks for Airsoft Gun Pic

The boy was suspended for the final three weeks of school after appearing on social media with a toy gun. (Photo: Sharp Import)

An eighth-grade student in Maryland was suspended last week after administrators at his small private school discovered a social media post in which the young man posed with an airsoft gun.

The incident came to the media’s attention after the boy’s father, David Bernstein, published an editorial in the Washington Post criticizing the school for what he called its “punitive and counterproductive intervention.”

According to Bernstein, the boy had appeared in a video alongside another boy who was holding the airsoft gun. The school also discovered that the eighth-grader had posted a photo on Snapchat that depicted him being held in a headlock while another boy pointed the toy gun at his head.

After considering “the prior history of the student, their age and mitigating factors,” the school determined to suspend the boy for three weeks because his post—which he shared with 13 friends—may have impacted students with anxiety.

“We have to protect them,” the school’s principal told Bernstein when he went to plead for leniency.

SEE ALSO: Student Posing With Gun Sues School After Being Suspended

Perhaps more interesting than the incident itself is the reaction of the boy’s father. Bernstein doesn’t appear to be what most would consider a Second Amendment advocate. He calls Congress’s unwillingness to impose new gun control laws a “national disgrace” and believes his son ought to have been suspended for three days.

But he also voices frustration at the willingness of school officials to criminalize students for even the most innocent references to firearms. By equating adolescent clowning with real violence, schools are more likely to increase anxiety, not diffuse it.

“In overstating the risk of shootings, school officials end up overreacting. A child who poses with a fake gun on social media — which is actually quite common — is not on the same risk continuum as a school shooter — which is extremely uncommon,” he writes.

“An unloaded airsoft gun is not one step away from an AK-47,” he continues. “It cannot turn into a real gun. A kid with poor enough judgment to pose with an airsoft gun is not one step away from shooting up his school with a real gun. He is one step away from being an adolescent knucklehead who needs, perhaps, three days of intense reflection.”

“Rather than protecting anyone from anxiety, this is the way to increase it: jump at every shadow, overreact to non-threats and pretend that they are no different from real ones.”

SEE ALSO: Missouri Principal Suspended After Posting Pro-Gun Tweet in Response to David Hogg

Though Bernstein claims his son does not have a history of misbehavior, this isn’t the first time the school has cracked down on a seemingly innocent offense.

“I first realized something was amiss at the school when I received a call earlier in the year about another ‘very serious’ incident,” Bernstein told Reason.com. “My son had told a friend that he observed a teacher texting while driving. He was then hauled into the principal’s office and asked to apologize to the teacher, which he only did reluctantly. ‘The teacher was very hurt,’ the principal stated. ‘And [your son] didn’t seem to care.’”

“Confused about the ‘crime,’ I asked the principal what if my son was telling the truth. ‘That’s beside the point,’ she said. ‘He violated our community values by hurting the teacher’s feelings.'”

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over four years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco. Follow him on Instagram @bornforgoodluck and email him at jordan@gunsamerica.com.

{ 42 comments… add one }
  • Andrew N. July 26, 2019, 10:06 pm

    It’s bad enough that the kid was suspended for the posting, but the one that actually made me say “Are you fucking kidding me?” was the texting teacher story. Never mind that the teacher was breaking the law and putting others lives at risk. The real problem was that the student “hurt the teacher’s feelings”. What the fuck is happening here? Why aren’t the parents of every student pulling their kids out of that school? I’m really starting to believe that this country will have to split into two. Most of the East Coast, all of the West Coast, plus one or two States in the “sane” part of the country will be one country, the rest will be another. I will take bets on which one’s Gov’t / the Constitution would survive and which one would be an epic fail on both counts. Loser reverts BACK to the other country, but loses all voting Rights and the ability to govern themselves. Obviously they are unable to make good decisions.

  • Paul July 15, 2019, 10:51 am

    I wasn’t there so I’m not privy to the whole incident but…….It seems that a$$ing around with an airsoft doesn’t teach gun safety and could lead to a$$ing around with a real gun, especially since Liberals tend to teach their kids to do whatever they want. So I have mixed emotions about the whole incident!

  • Mitchell Thomas July 13, 2019, 8:17 pm

    Rightly said,what have we become as a society!

  • Scotty Gunn July 13, 2019, 11:41 am

    This is simply training the young to fear guns. That way when they grow up, they will be okay with a complete firearms ban and confiscation.
    Now if the boy posed with two other boy’s d*cks in his mouth, they would have praised him for being so brave and would call him a hero.

  • David Welsh July 12, 2019, 8:13 pm

    The kid should return to school wearing a shirt with an AR printed on it.

  • Eric S. July 12, 2019, 4:00 pm

    I remember going to H.S. with a 30-30 in the back window of my pickup truck, what happened to those days. What happened to the (forgive me for saying) the good old days when you had a fist fight and your issues had been resolved? Todays generations have no idea how to deal with anger and with all of the violent video games they have been desensitized to the reality of what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Guns, knives, bats, stick and any else that can be used as a weapon don’t solve or fix your problems they compound them when used irresponsibly or for malicious intent or a crime. These are perfect examples of how our 1A rights are being taken away faster then our 2A rights and somehow NOBODY sees that. Someone shared this kids post with the School District and that person needs to stop being so sensitive and grow up.

  • Mike Johansen July 12, 2019, 3:32 pm

    And if the kid had posted a pic of himself in a full tongue-gobbling kiss with another young male, the response would have been positive, affirming, (and sickening).

    We are going to have to separate ourselves from the left, or go full-zombie-wipeout on their asses.

  • Lawrence Greenberg July 12, 2019, 1:32 pm

    And that is their goal.

  • Mr. Sparkles July 12, 2019, 1:32 pm

    The only way this kind of crap will stop is when it begins to hit these progressive SOBs where it hurts. Stop complaining and writing editorials and sue the bastards. I am sure that the shame of suspension has a monetary value and refusal to provide an education already paid for in tuition or taxes can also be put into monetary terms.

    It may not be fun but a knockdown drag out court battle is beating them at their own game.

  • Rob Rothen July 12, 2019, 12:38 pm

    Clarence Cochran, your comments are 100% accurate and I agree 100%. That being said, I think the relevance to the article is about 10%. the take-away should not be about firearm safety but about the authority of the school. The discussion should be about how much authority we allow to the gov’t (fed, state & local). I personally don’t feel that the school has any say in what happens out of school time and property. As far as the schools “may have impacted students with anxiety” argument, do they have evidence to the effect? Do the students have access to social media on school time? Why? Was there any threat to the school or other students on the posts? These are some of the questions that should’ve been asked and answered with parental presence or at least awareness. And any threats forwarded to law enforcement.

    We seem to have come to a point in our society were we must decide, as parents, to stop the seizure of authority by gov’t (fed, state & local) and choose how much authority we are willing to abdicate to gov’t (fed, state & local).

  • Kole July 12, 2019, 12:22 pm

    So 14 direct charge’s of invasion of privacy, 14 charge’s of violation of the first amendment, 14 charge’s of intimidation from the school administration, 1 more charge of intimidation over the teacher getting her feelings hurt and forcing the kid to apologize. This crap happened off school grounds. There are zero excuses for allowing any and all types of political influence in our schools. Public and private. They are there for education. Not to be taught to be a Left wing drone. Sue the living shit out of every single member of the school who was involved until they are forced out of our education system. If not you are different than the idiot principal who caused this crap for no reason. And last kiddies stay off social media, it does nothing but get people in trouble. It allows over zealous leftist to shit the bed and throw a fit over a child playing with a stupid toy. Enough you but job leftist !!!

  • MikG July 12, 2019, 12:01 pm

    “Stupid is as stupid does.” Democraps will be the demise of America.

  • John Rogers July 12, 2019, 12:00 pm

    If “Dad” had any stones, he would have pulled his kid out of the school immediately after the whole “hurt her feelings” bs. Unfortunately, he’s cut from the same cloth as the school administrator. He thought a three week suspension was excessive, but three days would be ok? A student should NEVER be suspended from school for something that happened off school grounds, and not at a school activity. Never.

    I feel bad for the kid. You expect your parents to have your back when you haven’t done anything wrong, and his father certainly doesn’t. He proved that twice, in his dealings with the school.

  • Will July 12, 2019, 11:55 am

    In some ways I agree with you… In my mind the probem isn’t the toys, it’s our warping mindset that’s created the problem.
    Back in the 70’s & 80’s (speaking as a ruralite), we kids all had cap guns, squirt guns & BB guns that looked just as realistic as they do today. Groups of us would play soldier / cops & robbers / cowboys & indians / etc. all over our neighborhoods, between buildings downtown, & NONE of us ever got shot or tazzed by the police or antsy homeowners.
    Our parents where responsable for teaching us respect, & right from wrong, & teachers where there to teach us the 3 ‘R’s 5 days a week, 8-3…
    In all honesty, I blame social media for 80% of todays problems… Every idiot is given an instant voice… Even me. 😉

    Will

  • Will July 12, 2019, 11:40 am

    Seriously? This is why school shootings are on the rise…. My only regret is the poor choice of targets.
    Zealous liberals are quickly catching up to their socialist/communist/facist/nazi/dictator predecessors, & are completely destroying what good the democratic party ever stood for. The middle ground is non-existant, with only the far left / far right remaining, constantly at each others throats.
    We are very quickly headed towards an eastern european free for all. It won’t be a clean cut us vs them, it’ll be us vs everyone else… Politics, race, religion, diet, sexual identity… You name it, it’ll be killed over.
    True mass shootings in the tens to hundreds of victims will be a daily news blurb, & our police state will begin in earnest. That log cabin in the middle of nowhere is sounding better & better.

    God bless America…

    Will

    • Ed Charles September 25, 2020, 10:20 am

      I agree with most of what’s said here so far. One little point you said Will, that I would only tweak a bit to be more accurately stated: “The middle ground is non-existant, with only the far left / far right remaining, constantly at each others throats.”

      I think we have a center population, and we have the far radical left fascist against the rest of us who are really in the middle. We are not really far right, and we should not buy into being mislabeled. That is a trap of the fascist left and a typical ploy they always use with labels. Witness the terms progressive and liberal and there are many others they have invented. It makes the enemies of our country, appear be models of citizenry, when they are the opposite. These fascist leftists are fascists by definition, and they are specifically enemies of not only Americans but also of our Republic, of which thank-God and our founding fathers we are a Republic and not a democracy. A democracy will always devolve to evil chaos if not governed by the rule of law as fundamentally defined in our Constitution under thereto the Republic for which it stands. Unfortunately though as I hope still is true, that though Government bureaucrats, employees and politicians are sworn to uphold Our USA Constitution, few have ever read or understood it. And they also break that oath and the Law of our Land every minute of everyday.

  • Johnny July 12, 2019, 11:09 am

    I’ll be a little bit of a buzzkill her too… First I will say I think suspending the kid for this in the article is ridiculous BUT, yes…some or many of those airsoft guns look real as all heck!

    One moment in particular woke me up. My friend’s son for his 8th birthday wanted a (and even called it out like this) Colt 1911 with tactical rail Airsoft gun. He even went on to say “the black one…it looks almost exactly like Uncle Johnny’s (my Kimber CDP Pro II cerakoted mostly all black).”

    So, she goes to the local sporting good store and finds one. Couple months later I’m at the house and her son says “Uncle Johnny, you wanna see my new 1911 airsoft gun” and I quickly said, “Sure…let’s see what mama gotcha.”

    The kid goes in his room and comes out with an airsoft gun that is I had not upgraded the grips on mine, at first glance or to an untrained eye, there was about ZERO difference!

    I really do care about the little dude and I had to be honest. To myself I’m thinking “I know this kid and if I was just walking outside and all the sudden saw that (the airsoft gun) pointed at me, I’m shooting!!!” I then went on to, maybe a little less bluntly told the kid the same. I told him to enjoy it, I’d make him targets for the backyard and his room but, “ if there’s no orange tip…paint that barrel neon orange! Do not bring it in the front yard and do not ever point that at anyone little brother!”

    I happened to have my CDP on me that day so, I went in the bathroom with both. Unloaded and cleared mine, locked my slide to the rear, brought both back out and asked the entire room (6-8 adults, none of them shooters) “Ok. Which one is mine and which one’s the airsoft.” Again, I have custom grips on mine, the cerakote is a little different look and still the answers were about a 50/50 split.

    Again, I really didn’t want to me a buzzkill. It’s not my kid to raise but, I know what I saw in front of me and I can say if it was NOT that young man I’ve known since birth and it was being pointed at me, excuse me for being blunt but, I’m shooting that direction! No, I’m not going to wait for that person to shoot first and listen for an actual boom or that little snap you hear. What I saw was a 1911 pistol!

    So, again, enjoy them but, realize most the time the only person who will know it’s not a real pistol/firearm is gonna be YOU!

  • Mike July 12, 2019, 11:06 am

    Oh, and that teacher should have been suspended for violating the law….texting and driving. What message does that send?

  • Mike July 12, 2019, 11:03 am

    Apparently we’ve forgotten or fail to recognize the othe culprit-social media. Stop over documenting your less-lived lives and maybe these feelings facists won’t suspend these kids. Another ‘oh my god’ example of the pussification of america.

  • Richard Poore July 12, 2019, 10:37 am

    This incident, with all of its ignorance by both sides, demonstrates the NEED FOR FIREARM EDUCATION in the school systems, whether public or private. Parents should be given the right to opt out by means of a notarized signed consent form. Emphasis should be placed on the utensil/sporting use of firearms, as well as their destructive/harmful misuse.

  • Doug C. July 12, 2019, 10:14 am

    When I was a kid in school, I would have been excited and tickled to get a three week suspension.

  • Gus July 12, 2019, 10:03 am

    Ok people you need to tweak your brain so you won’t think logically and will understand, It’s 0nly ok to send 18 year old kids into a war to K I L L people, it’s totally wrong and Immorally bad to allow a kid to post a pic of a toy gun. Just think like a brain dead leftist!

  • Bob Ailanjian July 12, 2019, 9:53 am

    There is a famous quote by Lincoln that says the US can only be destroyed from within. While he never actually spoke the words in the quote, it was paraphrased from an 1838 speech he gave, it was damned correct. Liberal pinheads are destroying the country. And that boy`s father is one of them. He thinks 3 days suspension for PLAYING with a friggin TOY gun is acceptable? I feel sorry for the boy, because of the school he is placed in, and for the idiot father he is stuck with.

  • Rattlerjake July 12, 2019, 9:32 am

    Because the father is just as bad as the school administration – the article said he’s a dimwitturd’Ocrap too!

  • Occams July 12, 2019, 9:28 am

    Guess what, gang? This is JUST the beginning.

    If they can fool experienced shooters with their staged, phony@ss, False Flag-agenda ‘shootings’, then the rest of the Sheep are a slam-dunk.

    Sorry to have to break the truth to you

  • Fred July 12, 2019, 9:13 am

    Private School, different rules and policies can be applied. The best part is this father pays extra tuition for this.

  • Mark A Gutsmiedl July 12, 2019, 8:41 am

    I think if the school were to send notice to the parent of the unsafe activities that could have hurt or injured the other kid in the photos would have been the correct course of action. Suspending a student for posting pictures on social media that are not actually threatening the school or students is asinine! Might cause anxiety in other students? Really? Also, the texting issue “hurt the teachers feelings” “even if it was true”. WTF! That is all we do today is coddle other people’s feelings. Grow up! Life is not always and never will be all Roses! Even Rose have thorns.

  • Ken July 12, 2019, 8:30 am

    The school’s job is educating the children, and nothing more. Then have NO AUTHORITY outside of school hours and off school property. Period.

  • Ozark Muleskinner July 12, 2019, 8:25 am

    Yep, that’ll teach him.

  • Andy July 12, 2019, 8:24 am

    The next to the last paragraph was the real clincher for me, “…hurt the teachers feelings”? Really!?!?!

    At that point, the father should have ensured that the child was a credible witness, and notified the school that he was filing a criminal complaint against the teacher for violation of the State Distracted Driving law. Additionally, that he was demanding an investigation of the school, and the school district for attempting conceal a crime. Now let’s see how many feeling get hurt.

  • Larry July 12, 2019, 8:21 am

    Well said Clarence Cochran,, 100% agree.

  • durabo July 12, 2019, 7:50 am

    Maryland, of course! Only the police and criminals are armed.

  • Mark Klusmeier July 12, 2019, 7:31 am

    So tell me again . . . WHY are you paying good money to go to this private “progressive” school that is obviously not educating its students, but indoctrinating them?

  • Sean C July 12, 2019, 7:23 am

    Yea…no. The school their rules anyone agreeing with them are WRONG. Sometimes a smack in the face will knock some common sense into a person…sometimes a bulldozer has to level the entire place.

  • BILL BRONAUGH July 12, 2019, 7:13 am

    This parent got exactly what he deserves, the son, maybe, MAYBE not so much. He put his child in, and raised him in, this sort of world so congratulations to all.

  • Mike July 12, 2019, 7:11 am

    Since when do schools or anyone for that matter have the power to regulated or govern what people can or can’t do off site ? Maybe the pointing to his head was in poor taste, but seeing it wasn’t a school function or on their property? They felt the need to step in…What’s next….makes me wonder where we are heading…

  • Michael Dean Hanson July 12, 2019, 6:59 am

    I agree with the father on the issue of creating violent behavior by punishing innocent behavior. Human beings are likely to assume roles that they have been assigned. Accuse a kid of being a terrorist, and you just might create one!

  • Clarence Cochran July 12, 2019, 6:57 am

    While I agree in principle with the reaction of the Dad about the school’s over reaction, I still believe that what the kids did is incredibly stupid and unsafe. If it’s capable of firing a projectile, regardless of the method of propulsion for said projectile, an AirSoft gun should be treated like a “real” gun. That’s just common sense. The three cardinal rules of Gun Safety applies to Airguns, BB guns, Pellet guns and Paintball guns. Holding the muzzle against another person, regardless of body part, has the potential to injure. Sure, it might be a mild welt on the skin, but it could also miss and hit an eye or travel down the ear canal and pierce a tympanic membrane. The degree of a potential wound’s severity changes with the projectile and method of propulsion.
    A huge part of Gun Safety is safely and responsibly handling a gun in a fashion that avoids or lowers the risk of injuring yourself and others. That’s accepted dogma in the shooting sports as it should be. What type of gun is moot.

  • David Kent July 12, 2019, 6:42 am

    Cases such as this provide significant justification for young peoples’ lack of respect for authority.

  • Ronald Peterson July 12, 2019, 6:33 am

    IMO– SPEAKING OF Replica-firearms that look exactly like a REAL GUN. THATS JUST ASKING FOR TROUBLE. THE MANUFACTURER SHOULD NOT COPY REAL FIREARMS! its Common Sense!

  • Jamie West July 12, 2019, 5:33 am

    Actually I am very happy to see this kind of ludicrous and outrageous over-reaction. The more incidents of this type that make the news, the more the population gets to see just how over-the-top and silly the gun-grabbers are becoming. In the same vein, I am delighted to see the sophomoric and juvenile pronouncements from the likes of AOC and Bernie Sanders garner wide distribution. It may seem as if “common sense” is lost, but I have a very real faith that most of the American voters are not so silly as to fall for their transparent idiocy.

  • Jesse Scott July 12, 2019, 5:18 am

    Time for a new school dude

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