High Schooler Says Math Symbol Looks Like Gun, Accused Of Threat

Schools have a lot of reason to be concerned about mass shootings. While they are still rare, the media portrays them as a threat looming that will soon swallow every school in the country.


Plus, to be fair, schools that don’t take a potential threat seriously and act accordingly will be eviscerated in the press. Case in point, look at the coverage we’ve given to the administration at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. They have to react to potential threats.

Unfortunately, that’s other schools a little jumpy. Sometimes ridiculously so.

For example, a Louisana high school student found himself under intense scrutiny for saying a math symbol looked like a firearm.

A Louisiana high school student was finishing up a math problem and drew the square root symbol, authorities told KATC-TV.

Problem was, another student allegedly said the square root symbol looked like a gun — and several other students made similar comments, Allen Parish Sheriff’s deputies told the station.

And with that, deputies launched an investigation of a terrorist threat allegation at Oberlin High School on Tuesday afternoon, KATC reported, citing the department’s Facebook page.

Investigators said the students’ comment “could” sound like a threat when taken out of context, the station added, and that criminal charges won’t be filed against the student.

Commenting that the symbol for a square root looks like a gun is a threat? Seriously?

Look, I hate math as much as the next guy–probably more than the next guy if I’m perfectly honest–but what about commenting on shape similarities between math symbols and other objects is remotely likely to be a threat?


Or was it simply the word “gun?”

What’s next? Are students who note the similarities between a plus sign and a cross going to be lectured on keeping religion out of schools? Wait, that’s probably already happened somewhere. Probably not the best example.

Still, this is beyond ridiculous. This should never be an issue, yet it is.

Look, some threats need to be taken seriously. You don’t know whether some kid is just lashing out at bullies and trying to scare them or whether it’s a legitimate threat. By all means, investigate those. You don’t want to assume the former when it’s the latter.

But that doesn’t mean every casual mention of “gun” is somehow a threat and that a student needs to feel the intense pressure of a police investigation for the most innocuous comment imaginable.

I mean, while I might not have thought about it before, the symbol for a square root does look like a gun. The student made an observation and mentioned it, and that’s worthy of an investigation?

Honestly, I’m not sure if this is as bad as the gun-shaped Pop Tart (TheBlaze link above also mentions that gem), but it’s right up there with regard to absolute stupidity.

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