An Alabama elementary school, Bagley Elementary, is facing backlash after suspending a first-grader, J.B., for forming a finger gun while playing “cops and robbers.” Jerrod Belcher, J.B.’s father, contends that the school’s response was excessive. A suspension notice accuses J.B. of a “Class III” infraction, equivalent to a serious threat or intimidation, for using his fingers to mimic shooting at another student.
Belcher’s lawyer, M. Reed Martz, has demanded the removal of all records of this disciplinary action, asserting that no reasonable argument exists to categorize J.B.’s conduct as prohibited under the school’s policy, as he was partaking in a harmless, imaginary game. National Second Amendment group, Gun Owners of America, alongside state-based group BamaCarry, has joined forces with Martz, pressuring the school to obliterate any record of this incident from J.B.’s files.
According to the school’s handbook, “Class III” infractions are major infractions, comparable to crimes like arson, bomb threats, and possession of explosives on school property, highlighting the disproportionality of the charge against a six-year-old involved in innocent play. Ironically, more physical actions like hitting or pushing another student are considered lesser “Class II” infractions.
The school has since downgraded J.B.’s disciplinary action to a “Class II Infraction,” allowing him to return to class. However, Martz believes this amendment is insufficient, continuing to demand a public confirmation for the removal of any record of this incident and assurance that age and context-appropriate play activities, posing no real threat or disruption, won’t result in punishments in the future.
This incident, according to Gun Owners of America Senior Vice President Erich Pratt, exemplifies the “anti-gun mindset” prevalent in some communities and represents a severe mismanagement of a situation where children were merely being children. He stressed the commonality of such play among children and demanded action until an apology is issued and all related records are permanently destroyed.
Jerrod Belcher remains frustrated over his son’s treatment.
“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,” Belcher said. “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. 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.’”
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