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7th Grader Suspended For “Liking” Airsoft Gun Photo On Instagram

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Another story this week that many in the airsoft community would consider to be an “overreach” by a school in Ohio; and for students, they may have to think twice before “liking” an image of a weapon on social media --- their schools maybe watching their activities online.

A news report on FOX19 tells the story of a student at Edgewood Middle School in Trenton, Ohio was suspended for 10 days by his school after he “liked” or rather gave a “heart” to an airsoft gun posted on Instagram that has a caption saying “Ready.”

Photo: The Instagram post in question (Screenshot taken by FOX19)

Zachary Bowlin was on Instagram at around 7 or 8 in the evening when he “liked” the airsoft gun photo. But on the next day, he was called down to the school office where he was patted down for weapons. He was given a 10-day suspension together with the boy who posted the photo and his parents were informed that the cause for his suspension is "Liking a post on social media that indicated potential school violence."

The parents protested the suspension, "I was livid, I mean, I’m sitting here thinking ‘you just suspended him for ten days for liking a picture of a gun on a social media site," father Marty Bowlin said in the news report, adding that, "He never shared, he never commented, he never made a threatening post… anything on the site, just liked it."

After the school found out that the photo was an airsoft gun that fires plastic pellets, the suspension was revoked and Bowlin can report to school without any threat of penalty.

Edgewood City Schools Superintendent Russ Fussnecker issued a statement on the issue:

Concerning the recent social media posting of a gun with the caption “Ready”, and the liking of this post by another student, the policy at Edgewood City Schools reads as follows:

The Board has a “zero tolerance” of violent, disruptive, harassing, intimidating, bullying, or any other inappropriate behavior by its students.
Furthermore, the policy states: 

Students are also subject to discipline as outlined in the Student Code of Conduct that occurs off school property when the misbehavior adversely affects the educational process.

As the Superintendent of the Edgewood City Schools, I assure you that any social media threat will be taken serious including those who “like” the post when it potentially endangers the health and safety of students or adversely affects the educational process.”

Airsoft forums can debate whether the school acted properly on the information it had or has overreacted. But remember that many schools are very concerned with students having an interest in weapons, especially guns, always keeping in mind the Columbine High School Massacre in 1999 where two senior students murdered 12 students and 1 teacher. Schools are targeted in the U.S. with the deadliest being the Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre when 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot 20 children and 6 adults to death in 2012.

Still, be careful on what you do on Social Media, as what you post may be used against you. Think hard before clicking that “Like” button.