It’s a sad story we are hearing far too often these days. Dad has daughter, dad becomes member of the NRA, dad gives NRA shirt to daughter, daughter condemned at school because dad’s gift promotes violence.
This most recent scene of a public school turning on a student because of that student’s support of an organization that promotes the Constitution and the safe use of firearms happened in Orange County, California. Sophomore Haley Bullwinkle’s father recently became a full-fledged card carrying member of the National Rifle Association (NRA). After becoming a member, the girl’s father bought her an NRA t-shirt that had on it an American flag, a hunter, and a buck. The young girl wore the shirt to school several times without incident, but last month something changed.
Ms. Bullwinkle says that when she wore the shirt last month she was sent to the principal’s office where she was reprimanded for violating the school’s dress code. The specific violation? The dress code forbids, “offensive, violent, or divisive clothing.”
In our day of heated political divisions, it is quite possible that the shirt could be considered offensive or divisive… but surely not in the manner that the school intended when this dress code was written. One could say that a shirt that said “Vote Obama,” or “Vote Romney” could also be found offensive or divisive in this form. That really only leaves the possibility that the student was suspended for wearing clothing that promoted violence. Maybe if it was violence against a deer.
The Principal responded to the controversy stirred up by the school dress code, “The shirt had a gun on it, which is not allowed by school police. It’s protocol to have students change when they’re in violation of the dress code.” However this explanation doesn’t suit Ms. Bullwinkle’s father, who would like to know how the school decides what kind of content is violent and what is okay. “The drill team is allowed to twirl fake rifles and the mascot is a Comanche. I think that if you consider the hunter, the image of the hunter to be offensive, certainly there are groups that would consider the Comanche Indian chief to be offensive.”
Liberals may have problems with the NRA’s stance on certain political issues, but to continue to use them as a whipping-boy for violence in our culture is nonsense. The NRA is first and foremost a gun safety and training organization that serves to educate people on firearms and the Constitution. As a secondary act, the NRA defends one of the most important Amendments to the Constitution, which was put in place as part of the Bill of Rights envisioned by so many of our founding fathers.
If we want to attack the problem of violence in our culture, we should start with more popular and entrenched cultural attitudes — like music, movies, video games, comic books, books, websites, etc. If we consider the problems of violence in culture honestly, I am sure we would conclude that the NRA likely plays little to no part in the problem.
UPDATE: The School District has apologized and will be reeducating their staff on dress code issues.
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