6-year-old suspended over finger guns in Alabama

Daylight! Hangover! #facepalm" by whatleydude is marked with CC BY 2.0 DEED.

A number of parents aren’t big fans of toy guns. They think by removing these gun proxies from the home, their child won’t be violent. What they don’t get is that toys don’t make people violent and if a kid wants a gun proxy, they’ll find one, even if it’s just finger guns.


At schools, they’ve taken this basic concept to ridiculous extremes. Students have been punished over just the depiction of a gun on a t-shirt and, perhaps most famously, for a sort of gun-shaped Pop-Tart.

It would be easy to chalk that up to pure anti-gun sentiment in blue states, but what about Alabama?

It’s become a cliché that when a student breaks a rule, a teacher or administrator may threaten them with punishment that will remain on their “permanent record.” But for one Alabama 6-year-old, that threat seems plausible, and the child’s father is not having any of it.

“They labeled my six-year-old as a potentially violent and dangerous student because he was being a little boy and playing cops and robbers with another student (who was also suspended) and using his fingers like a gun,” Jarrod Belcher, the boy’s father, wrote in a statement released Friday, Sept. 8.

According to a Jefferson County Board of Education “Due Process Referral for Class III Infractions” form released by Gun Owners of America (GOA), Mr. Belcher’s son was “using gun fingers to shoot at another student.”

Following the parents’ complaint, the disciplinary action has been downgraded to a less severe Class II Infraction. But Mr. Belcher said that is not enough.

“It should be noted that punching or hitting a student would have only been a Class II violation, so in the eyes of these school administrators, a finger gun is more serious than punching a classmate in the nose,” Mr. Belcher’s statement reads.

He said his son shouldn’t be punished as no one was hurt.

“Many noses have been broken by fists, but in the last 600 years since the invention of firearms, not a single person has been so much as bruised by a ‘finger gun,’” he wrote.


He’s not wrong, either.

It should be noted that a Class III infraction is for things like bringing actual guns to school, as well as drugs or explosives.

I’m pretty sure young Mr. Belcher’s fingers aren’t likely to actually discharge.

Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of stupid, but suspending a student over finger guns is ridiculous. Hell, I did those in front of a big crowd at half-court of a varsity basketball game after I scored a basket and my punishment was applause–and, admittedly, the animosity of the other team. I was kind of a little snot back in the day. There was no risk of suspension. I didn’t even get a talking-to from the coach.

Kids are going to play and they’re going to emulate the various things they’ve seen on television and in the movies. That includes playing games like cops and robbers. After all, what else are most police procedurals on television?

The finger gun is a ready proxy for a toy firearm when you’re playing a game like that.

Yet here’s the thing, as Belcher noted above, no one has ever been injured by finger guns. No one has ever been injured by Pop-Tarts or by guns on t-shirts.

I get that schools don’t want guns on campus. They don’t want kids coming to school with firearms and they have a zero tolerance policy for that. I get it, and since most of these kids can’t lawfully own a firearm, it’s not something I’m going to lose sleep over.


But when you’re punishing kids for having guns over things that aren’t remotely firearms, we’ve left reality and entered The Stupid Zone.

That’s especially true over something they physically can’t leave at home, namely those finger guns.

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