In the latest incident of anti-gun hysteria to erupt in a school setting, administrators at a high school in small-town Upstate New York ordered an Army National Guard recruiter to stop handing out National Guard-emblazoned T-shirts because the shirts include the silhouette of an American soldier holding a rifle.
The incident happened on Friday at Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk High School, a taxpayer-funded public school about 20 miles south of Albany, the Times Union reports.
The light olive green shirts feature the words “National Guard,” a large American flag draped vertically downward and a silhouetted soldier wearing a helmet and carrying a rifle — something soldiers often do when called upon to defend the country.
School district superintendent Alan McCartney defended the decision to outlaw the shirts.
“This has nothing to do with patriotism, nothing to do with anybody disliking the military,” McCartney told local CBS affiliate WRGB. “It has nothing to do with the recruiter himself. It just has to do with the fact that there was a weapon on the shirt and that just doesn’t have a place in a high school.”
The superintendent also raised other concerns.
“One of the problems you have in school during this period in our history is that the weapon becomes the focal point for some people,” he told a WRGB reporter.
“Wearing pictures of weapons brings to mind those things in our society that are not pertinent to education,” he also said, according to the Times Union.
An angry local mother, Jennifer Delisle, said she didn’t even notice the gun on the shirt at first.
“I saw the American flag, the silhouette of the solider, I didn’t even notice the gun and the children I’ve talked to said it had nothing to do with the gun being on it, it had to do with the honor and respect to the National Guard,” DeLisle told the CBS affiliate.
National Guard spokesman Colonel Richard Goldenberg said that the reserve military force has given away the shirts as a recruiting tool at high schools all over the country.
The high school’s dress code outlaws any clothing that advocates the use of alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs or which endorses illegal or violent action.
According to WRGB, some students defiantly refused to remove the shirts after school officials banned them on Friday.
McCartney told the Times Union a different story. He claimed students were allowed to wear them for the rest of the day but are forbidden from wearing them on school grounds ever again.
The superintendent also declared that “the negative became a big learning experience and a positive” because some students later offered to clean a Sept. 11 monument on the high school campus.
The National Guard recruiter was back at Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk High School on Tuesday — hawking different shirts.
Last year’s national frenzy of school officials suspending kids as young as kindergarten for having stuff that represents a gun, but isn’t actually anything close to a real gun, has slowed to a trickle this year.
In April 2013, an eighth grader in West Virginia was suspended and, astonishingly, arrested after he refused to remove a T-shirt supporting the National Rifle Association. The courageous 14-year-old then returned to school wearing exactly the same shirt, which depicts a hunting rifle with the statement “protect your right.” Prosecutors later dropped the charges. (RELATED: Eighth-Grader Arrested Over NRA Shirt Returns To School In Same Shirt)
A month earlier, officials at an elementary school in small-town Michigan impounded a third-grader boy’s batch of 30 homemade birthday cupcakes because they were adorned with “insensitive” plastic figurines representing World War II soldiers. (RELATED: School Confiscates Third-Grader’s Cupcakes Topped With Toy Soldiers)
In November 2013, an Arizona couple pulled their eight-year-old son out of a charter school after school officials threatened to expel the boy for his colorful drawings of a ninja, a soldier and a character from Star Wars. All three impressively-drawn figures are clutching guns and knives. (RELATED: Principal Threatens To Expel Third-Grader Over These Awesome Drawings)