The cultural campaign to label firearms and firearm ownership as socially unacceptable claimed another victim last week, when a “virtual” school demanded that an elementary school student remove an image of a firearm from his online profile.
The incident involved Wisconsin Virtual Learning, a public charter school, which offers Wisconsin’s elementary and high school students the opportunity to attend school online from home, rather than in a traditional classroom setting. As part of his online school profile, an 11-year-old student named Mathew uploaded a picture of a pistol on top of an American flag. A school official contacted Mathew and told him to change the image, stating, “No guns in school, even virtual schools.”
Following the removal demand, Mathew’s mother, an avid gun rights supporter, contacted WISN radio show host Vicki McKenna, who shared the story with her listeners. Mathew’s mother also told the radio program that she fears Mathew could be expelled for the picture incident and that her other son was previously told by the virtual school that he could not write a paper on the Second Amendment.
While Mathew’s case is particularly absurd, he’s unfortunately not the first victim of schoolhouse anti-gun bigotry extended to the virtual realm. In 2013, KNXV-TV reported that a student at Poston Butte High School in Florence, Ariz. was suspended for three days after he changed the desktop wallpaper on a school-issued laptop to a picture of a gun.
Modern gun prohibition advocates have learned to couch their agenda in terms like “reasonable gun safety regulations.” Yet school bans on, and strict punishments for, talking about firearms, chewing food into “gun” shapes, drawings of firearms, and pro-Second Amendment statements cannot be rationally justified as public safety measures. Rather, they are a form of political activism and social engineering designed to promote the idea that firearms and firearm owners are deviant and inherently threatening. Such censorship may also infringe upon constitutionally-protected freedom of expression.
The fact that this persecution is so often targeted at impressionable youth, and so often threatens real harm to their future prospects, demands that it be challenged at every turn.
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