Dia’mon Dallas, a student at Florida’s First Coast Technical College, is suing the school after she was put on suspension because of a picture on Facebook of herself and her fiancé posing with guns at a gun range.
A fellow student reported the photo to the school’s assistant principal, Donna Gary-Donovan. Gary-Donovan met with Dallas to suspend her and allegedly said she had a “mean look” and accused her of using an illegal firearm and said, “things you do in the dark come into the light.”
It sounds like Dallas didn’t actually do anything to deserve a suspension. Dallas is alleging racial discrimination in her suit and says that her suspension breaks both the 1st and 14th amendments.
“Some people just don’t like guns. They feel threatened by firearms. But that’s why we have constitutional protections, to protect activities that other people might find uncomfortable or unpopular,” said state Rep. Cord Byrd (R-Jacksonville Beach), who in addition to being a lawmaker is the attorney representing Dallas.
“Everything has just gone down the drain,” she told WJAX-TV. “I really was trying hard in school. I was making A’s. I can’t get a job and I have a baby to support. I’ve been out of work long enough and I wanted to do this to be able to provide for my family. And now I can’t.”
In the photo, Dallas is pointing a handgun toward the camera while her fiance holds another handgun at his side. Dallas and her fiance were at the range with his cousin, himself a veteran, who was teaching them to shoot at the range and had legally purchased and owned both guns.
While she is almost certainly breaking the rules of handling a firearm (the camera is probably being held by a person and she’s pointing a gun that direction), Dallas is not at a school function, she is not wearing school clothing, and the post had no relation to the school. She is handling a legal gun at a gun range.
Folks should certainly be circumspect about what photos are shared publicly — or, it turns out, privately. Consider the case of the Idaho Fish and Game Commissioner who was forced to resign after sharing pictures of his safari hunt via email. But should a student be suspended for a photo of herself with a gun?