FPC pledges support of free speech in Come & Take It hat case

(AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

The First and Second Amendments to the Constitution are arguably the most important. With the latter being more important than the former. When it comes to the freedom of expression, we can go down a rabbit hole on what is or is not appropriate. I remember once talking to a family member about a Massachusetts lawmaker trying to put the word “bi*ch” on a list of prohibited words, aka hate speech and make it a crime with fines attached. The left of center family member, when I asked her her thoughts on that she said “Well, you know that could hurt someone’s feelings. So I don’t see anything wrong with that.” In that vein, I refuse to let anyone make me their bi*ch by having my free speech chilled. But what about kids and students? One school in Michigan is about to find out they made a huge mistake.

According to a press release, last week the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) announced their support of a lawsuit against several school officials. According to the FPC, a third-grader’s First and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated when she was not allowed to wear her “Come and Take It” hat during their annual hat day. The suit, C.S. v. McCrumb names several parties as defendants; Durand Area Schools Superintendent Craig McCrumb, Robert Kerr Elementary School Principal Amy Leffel, and On Track Coach of Robert Kerr Elementary School Michal Papenek.

“The Supreme Court ruled 50 years ago that schoolchildren do not shed their First Amendment rights at the schoolhouse gate,” said the student’s attorney, John R. Monroe.  “That is still the law, and schools that teach our children civics and government should recognize that.”

The student, through her father, seeks a declaration that wearing the hat in question is constitutionally protected speech, a preliminary and permanent injunction prohibiting the school officials from restricting her speech and preventing her from wearing the hat, and nominal damages.

“Public schools may not violate the rights of pro-Second Amendment students because they don’t like guns or people who support the fundamental, individual human right to armed self-defense,” said FPC President Brandon Combs. “We look forward to reminding these anti-rights authoritarian school defendants that the Constitution applies in public schools.”

While minor children don’t have all the rights enshrined in the Constitution, the freedom of speech and expression is one that they do have, and have had for a long while. The subject of schools battling over Second Amendment related speech and students’ rights thereof, sparks up from time to time. There were a flurry of instances from Lacey New Jersey a number of years ago dealing with schools engaging in outright overreach in disciplining students for activities off property (going to the range or in their own home) or in one case, having an NRA sticker on their vehicle.

From the suit, some fun background for the history buffs:

February 17, 2022 was “hat day,” on which students were encouraged by the school to wear hats. The Hat was black and featured a white star, an image of an AR-style rifle, and the words, “Come and take it.”. An image of the Hat is attached to this Complaint as Exhibit 1. The words, “Come and take it,” especially when used with an image of a star and some kind of weapon, are a common slogan used to show support for the right to keep and bear arms. The words, “Come and take them,” or a derivation thereof, are reputed to have been used by King Leonidas I (of Sparta) during the Battle Thermopylae (480 B.C.) in response to a demand by Xerxes (of Persia) for the Spartans to lay down their arms and surrender. The Greek words “molon labe” from which the English translation “come and take them” was derived, were used by the I Army Corps of Greece and the Second Infantry Division of Cyprus during World War I. The words “molon labe” are the sole inscription on a bronze statue of Leonidas erected at Thermopylae in 1955. The words “come and take it” were used by American Col. John McIntosh on November 25, 1778, who was defending Ft. Morris, Georgia against a British attack, in response to a British demand for the surrender of the fort. The British declined to attempt to do so. Texans created the “Gonzales flag” during the Texas Revolution after Mexico demanded that Texas return a small cannon that Mexico had previously supplied to the colony of Gonzales, Texas, for its defense. The Gonzales flag features a single star (the Texas “lone star”), a drawing of the cannon, and the words, “Come and take it.”  A copy of the Gonzales flag is attached to this Complaint as Exhibit 2. The words “molon labe” are the motto of the United States Special Operations Command Central. C.S. understands the meaning of the inscription on the Hat and the importance of the inscription to the support of the right to keep and bear arms.

Paging Superintendent Craig McCrumb, school’s now in session! Take notes.

This particular incident is beyond disgusting. To put it lightly, it’s poor judgment by those telling a third-grader that she’s basically not allowed to participate in the school’s activity. So much for diversity and inclusion. The damage that the school officials have done is probably immeasurable. We’re living in a time and state where we’re supposed to be fostering tolerance and understanding, and at that young of an age no-less, what kind of message is being sent? That you’re allowed to express yourself only as long as you fall in line? Keep to the narrative? That’s about right. Come and Take It, indeed!

If a student (or parent of a student) believes they were discriminated against or disciplined for peacefully expressing their pro-Second Amendment views or not participating in some anti-rights event or speech, and would like to share your experience with us, or to report a possible civil rights violation, please feel free to email our FPC Legal Action Hotline at [email protected] or call our toll-free Legal Action Hotline at (855) 252-4510.

The filing of this important lawsuit is made possible by FPC’s members and donors. Individuals who would like to join the FPC Grassroots Army can sign up at JoinFPC.org. Individuals and organizations wanting to support charitable efforts in support of the restoration of Second Amendment and other natural rights can also make a tax-deductible donation to the FPC Action Foundation. For more on FPC’s lawsuits and other pro-Second Amendment initiatives, visit FPCLegal.org and follow FPC on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube.

Thankfully the FPC has taken the reins by rendering aid in this case. Free speech is a cornerstone of our civilized society. Without this freedom of expression, discourse cannot take place, and thus, we’d be in a vacuum of idea exchange. Whether it’s a third-grader that wishes to wear a “Come and Take It” hat, or a middle-aged man that advocates for everyones’ right to call someone a “bi*ch”, the speech is protected. It seems in their attempts to usurp the rights of a child, the administrators of that school are being a bunch of word they wanted to outlaw in Massachusetts(es). I’m interested to see how this fleshes out, I would not want to be on the receiving end of FPC’s wrath. Molon labe bi*ches!

For a bit of more commentary on this story, be sure to check out my friend and colleague from Guns and Gadgets HERE or in the embed below, and be sure to read Cam’s take on the lawsuit here

Jun 25, 2022 12:30 PM ET