courtesy suffolknewsherald.com

A Suffolk, Virginia high school student has been suspended and is facing permanent expulsion after an empty magazine from a BB gun was found in his backpack at school. In another example of zero-intelligence policies gone amok, the mere possession of harmless (air)gun related accessories on a school campus is treated as though it were actually dangerous or threatening . . .

From hamptonroads.com:

On Monday, a parent contacted high school officials to say his son had seen a student with a gun in a locker room Friday afternoon. After learning of the incident, officials called police and removed the student from class, according to a letter from principal Thomas McLemore Jr.

A search of the student’s bookbag also was conducted, with the unloaded magazine clip found. Possession of such an item is a violation of school board policy.

No one was threatened and there were no injuries from the incident. Charges were not filed against the student, city spokeswoman Diana Klink said in an email.

A ‘violation of school board policy?’ I read the Suffolk School Board policies, as published online here. Weapons are clearly prohibited on school grounds, and the school board’s definition of ‘weapon’ is fairly broad. It includes knives longer than three inches, guns, air guns, replica guns, toy guns, martial-arts weapons and explosives.

But it doesn’t include mere parts of such items. Every student could be expelled within the week, if ‘weapon’ included ‘any part of a weapon’ because Allen-head screws are used in lots of firearms. If you’ve got one in your bag, your iPhone case, or your car in the parking lot, you’re busted.

But the Suffolk School Board and Nansemond River principal Thomas McLemore have taken this already-broad definition and stretched it beyond any comprehensible English definition. Under their all-inclusive definition of ‘weapon’ I probably would have been expelled from school if the Drivers Ed teacher had found an empty shotgun shell on the floor of my car after a duck-hunting weekend. If he’d even noticed the smell of Hoppe’s No. 9, but only found the empty bottle, I would have been suspended.

It’s time to start pushing back against this stupidity and Principal McLemore needs a reality check. If he thinks an empty BB gun magazine is a ‘weapon’ then we think he’s no better than a petty tyrant, unfit to supervise the education of our children.

74 Responses to Zero Tolerance Government Functionary Of The Day: Thomas McLemore

    • No quite normal and commonplace when the Left is in full control of something. The fascist environment of public schools and universities is a look into how the Left runs things when they have full control. This is how our entire country would operate if the Left got full control of the federal government. It’s really some F’ing scary sheet.

      • Meanwhile in reality almost every school board actually writing these policies is chock full of conservatives. Wet your pants more there are liberals under the bed.

        • It’s not about left vs right, it’s free people vs statists and government excess. Democrats and Republicans are equally guilty of harboring and endorsing statist politicians and policies.

        • Hmmm. This sounds a whole lot more like policies written by the Feinstein / DeLeon / Obama / Yee type than Cruz / Stockman / Paul. If you look at the gun laws of the blue states vs. the red states, you’ll see a pattern of complete idiocy vs. various degrees of freedom. I have a hard time believing that conservatives wrote such assine policies. Zero tolerance is the brainchild of the statist tyrant, not those who support limited government.

        • CA_Chris gets it.

          The Democrat/Liberal vs Republican/Conservative battle is a sham.

          You’re either pro-liberty or pro-state.

  1. I went to school in southern Virginia and in elementary grades in the late 1960’s it was not uncommon for boys to bring BB guns to school. It wasn’t technically allowed, but no one ever called the police.

  2. If this had been my child I may have turned that mag. into a dangerous weapon by shoving it up someone’s a$$! Come on, single bullet lock down the entire school! Finger gun out for a week, etc…

    • If that was my kid I’d pull that principal to the side out of earshot of other folks and I’d tell him that his actions could be considered a personal assault by “some people” and that “some people” might get personal in return but not me. Then I would also tell him that I was sorry to hear about that vandal that threw a brick through his car windshield last night.

  3. I blame the parents. Today’s helicopter parents — and fear of litigation and/or complaints to school boards — have led to these brainless, zero tolerance policies.

    • To some extent, but the school boards and administration aren’t powerless. If they’re doing this because they’re afraid of crazy helicopter parents, that’s just moral cowardice.

  4. When I was a kid some joker would pull the fire alarm and disrupt classes the half hour it took to verify a false alarm.

    Today? A kid could surreptitiously drop a few BBs in a hallway and leave a bore cleaning brush in a restroom. That place could be locked down for days.

    • They are confused.
      They seem to know “clip” isn’t right (God knows how often we have told them) — but they think a “magazine” must refer to a periodical publication, so they compromise with “magazine clip” to make sure everyone understands that they refer to something to do with a gun.

  5. I got suspended in 7th grade for having a Swiss Army knife that was as dull as could be. I wore my dad’s coat to school, felt something in the pocket, took it out to see what it was, said oh crap and put it back. Someone saw and BOOM suspension.

    Also took place in VA

    • I was expelled for having a 3″ folder in my bag. I went camping the weekend before and forgot to take it out when I got home. Someone went through my bag, found it, and thought they could get the $100 “crimestoppers” reward for turning me in. Too bad for them, that reward can only be collected if the “offender” paid the fine. Guess who didn’t pay. =)

      • Crime stoppers? What crime? Does someone really think that that 3″ folder is going to get loose and rob a mini-mart or something?

  6. I remember when I was in High School and the “zero-tolerance” policies were being discussed. The teachers, principles and school boards HATED them. The problem that everyone wanted to deal with was covering up of assaults, rapes, theft and other very very serious crimes. In those cases, the student was returned to the class with no punishment at all. The argument from the school side was “if we punish these children too harshly we will destroy them forever. They will have no hope.” In order to get rid of these rules and laws, the implementers are crushing the non-thug kids as hard as they can. They feel that they are justified because the zero-tolerance rules and laws were written to be racist.

    This is nothing but sabotage.

  7. This crap is going to far.
    I sell an inert 44 magnum and 308 key chain in my store.
    A High School kid got suspended because of a frekkin keychain..
    His dad got him the 308 one.
    Its his dam key chain you libitards an INERT bullet!!
    BFD
    This is getting beyond ridiculous.

  8. I don’t have a problem with this suspension (expulsion might be a bit much though). If a kid is stupid enough to bring a replica gun to school, I’m not crying over his punishment. And don’t be fooled by the “oh it’s just a mag” story. Someone saw him with a gun and reported it. They may not have found it, but do you think it’s a coincidence that he happened to have a magazine in there? Ridiculous. He was showing off his fake gun and he’s facing the punishment for doing something really stupid nowadays. Talk to me about kids using their fingers as guns if you want a good argument against zero-tolerance…

    • I don’t think he should be punished in any way for bringing any kind of non-firearm replica to school. It should not even be an issue.

    • Did you read the story? There was no “replica” involved; it was an empty BB gun magazine! Where did you get “replica” from?

    • The story does say that the school acted based on a report that the student had a gun. So Hannibal’s inference is not an unreasonable one: another student saw the kid with a BB gun, reported it, and the kid ditched it sometime in between the time it was seen and the time he was searched.

      The problem I have with that is that there’s plenty of other perfectly reasonable inferences: for example, maybe another kid wanted to get this one in trouble, and falsely claimed to have seen him with a gun, either knowing or guessing that he’d have something incriminating in his backpack (or else assuming he’d just get searched and harassed but that would be the end of it). We can guess at what led to the report of a student with a gun all we want, but I don’t hold with punishing the kid on the basis of our guesses. Because I wouldn’t care for that to be the standard anywhere else.

    • Hannibal; you’re not stupid, you are insane. You are saying a high schooler with a PART to an NON-LETHAL AIR GUN, should be suspended?

      It is people like you that think this type of insanity is reasonable that has brought us to this point of surreal Twilight Zone episodic twistedness.

      The problem is the episode never ends. It just gets more twisted and more insane. Thanks, Hannibal; the inmates are running the asylum.

      • Thomas,
        He said that there might have been a gun, BB or otherwise as reported.
        Although, the student did not report it, the father of the student did.
        witness to dad to school officials to police, enough “telephone” to get screwed up.
        Story did not validate gun claim.

        • I stand by what I said. A NON-LETHAL part to a NON-LETHAL airgun.I grew up shooting BB guns. At eleven, friends and I would go out shooting 22lr rifles in Santa Cruz county, sixty miles south of san Francisco without asking our parents. I would have 22LR ammo in my pockets at times when I went to school. I stood up to bullies and fought them; afterward, we all would sit down with the principal, talk about it and then go back to our classes, lesson learned.

          No, this sick and twisted zero tolerance policy is complete and utter violation of justice. All punishment is supposed to based on intent; not just the act.

          Thus sick and twisted violation of the justice system and the abuse of our children in enforcing this abomination, is because the people allow it.

          No your right, it’s not insane, It’s sick, it’s twisted, it’s perverted. But we do unto others what we do to ourselves. Those people that allow their children to be treated this way is because they have such a poor sense of self-respect, they feel like they deserve the abuse; like an abused woman in an abusive relationship; they allow their children to abused as they feel they deserve to be abused.

          This is a symptom of a disease; a sick society that allows their children to abused by a burgeoning totalitarian system; the adults are allowing themselves to be abused by the system; so it would be natural that the parents would allow their children to be abused in the same way.

      • A few years ago, I heard another cop on the radio going to a hit and run in a parking lot, and the victims calling it in gave the suspect’s license plate, physical description, and told the dispatcher that he was acting like he was drunk.

        I got to the suspect’s house about 20 seconds after he did, just in time to see him pound down a beer, standing next to the open door of his car. Ruined the DUI case, because now we couldn’t prove that any reading of alcohol in his blood had come from alcohol he had consumed prior to driving, rather than after.

        Don’t tell me he wasn’t driving drunk, though. By extension for this story, I see Hannibal’s point crystal clear.

        I think it’s a stupid policy, though, and permanent expulsion is not reasonable. Suspension because he probably did have the actual BB gun prior to the search, and was factually in violation of the policy? Perhaps.

        I’m not old enough to have seen trucks in high school parking lots with rifles/shotguns in the back window, but it’s a damn shame we can’t do that today.

        • Suspension on the word of one single witness, a school kid? Punishment based on “might have,” “probably did” and other potentials? Wow. Think about what you are saying. Out of curiosity, how old are you?

    • So suspension based on someone’s word alone is ok? You can believe he had the toy the magazine goes to, but if it wasn’t found then any disciplinary action is based on accusation alone.

    • Did the kid really see a gun or just part, the mag. I would not be surprized if the kid saw the mag and didn’t see a gun. What about the kid who claimed to see a gun should he also be suspended for causing all this crap for lying about seeing a gun if no gun was found. This whole thing is insane

  9. Boy, if they only knew what I had in my car during the day, on my “range days” (Friday) When I went straight from school to the range. PTR 91, AK, 10/22s, hundreds of rounds, dozens of mags. Those were the days when I wasn’t taking anyone with me after school.

  10. How do you mistake a BB gun magazine for a gun? If I were the parents of the kid who said he saw a gun I’d give him a swift kick in the ass for runing another’s kids life. But the parents are probably thinking we stopped another Sandy Hook or something. I agree, it’s gotten to the point of parody.

  11. In 2005 when I was in Grade 6 I brought PPK and M9 BB gun replica to school for a play. Mags in and BB’s in a bottle. My female teacher knew about them, she asked me to bring them.

    School policy was to confiscate, reprimand and call parents. Possible suspension or 2 months detention. She was supposed to keep them for the duration of school and the play.
    When she asked if I had ‘bullets’ I said yes. When she asked if I was going to shoot anyone I said no. Okay, I know I can trust you to not be stupid. She let me keep them THE WHOLE TIME without checking my bag or reporting anything.
    I even gave an impromptu lesson on gun safety to my class. Took paper targets and showed the “actors” how to shoot straight.

    No big deal.

    Why can’t all teachers be that cool?

  12. What I want to know is how a BB gun magazine is more dangerous than a knife with a 2in blade. At least according to the schools definition of weapon.

  13. “When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always 
    declares that it is his duty.”

    -George Bernard Shaw

  14. LOL I had my CZ mag in my coat all day while at school, hey, it’s not a gun! The sign only says guns! (the gun was locked in my car, as per the state law).

  15. I used to drive my dads truck to school in high school. It had knives, .30-06 and .357 bullets in the seat pockets on the seat covers. I am sure I would have ended up in jail if I were in high school now and someone looked into the truck.

  16. By the definition of weapon a large number of faculty, staff and students could be in violation of the policy. Anyone with a cigarette lighter has an explosive. Anyone with a lithium battery, explosive. Anyone with pen or pencil has a weapon, and remember the pen is mightier than the sword. Heck I could make a weapon out of just about anything I could find in most classrooms, not to mention the gym/locker rooms, cafeteria, or library. This is totally BS, It is time to star litigation against these mindless a$$holes for this kind of crap.

  17. Well, at least he wasn’t suspended for loading too many bullets in his pop tart gun. They think they can keep up their psyc war without looking stupid, I’m sure shannon & sarah thought this was brilliant, Randy

  18. Am the last generation to shoot in the basement school shooting range. didnt get into it much as i could go home and plink.

    knives werent a big deal

    and i have a story about working in the school after hours when the head janitor fired a cap and ball revolver in the school maint. shop!

    the good old small town stories!

  19. This will be swept under the table, the term “accessories” will be added to the school board clause, and that’ll be it.

  20. There are so many facets to this that tempt me to respond, however I have at the moment only one ‘new’ thought about such zero-tolerance policies.

    Perhaps it’s time that we apply the bill of rights to minors in a school setting. Think of it as the natural and appropriate response to out of control ‘government’, in this case, school administration. Apply the 4th, 5th and 14th amendments and force schools to prove evidence of a crime or infraction of school rule for any punishment exceeding a 15 minute detention. There would of course have to be a separate court system with it’s own appeals process and I suppose the jurors would have to been other school children. . . in fact I suggest that the school be allowed to make no rules but rather than the students elect a legislature from their own population and allow that body to set all rules for the school. Of course the out comes may be a little odd and they probably wouldn’t learn much in the way of math or English, but they would learn something infinitely more valuable; How to be free and responsible citizens, to participate in the electorate, and that democratic principles are the means by which one naturally resists tyranny.

    Of course I know this inmates running the asylum arrangement would devolve into complete and udder chaos (I’m actually grinning at the idea of a group of 4th graders setting all their own school rules and at the potential out comes). The thing is that it’s frankly not more absurd than the current situation in which the adults apparently engage in magical thinking, where pretend is reality, where drawings of dangerous things are dangerous, where pointed fingers are a cause for panic and where whole school systems go into lock down when inert machine parts are located in the building. The adults are doing such a terrible job of administration themselves that perhaps it’s time to let the kids have a crack at it. . .

    Or I suppose we could expose idiots like the principle from the article to the sort of ridicule and tort that such deserve. That might be the single missing item that’s allowed the entire society to reach the point it has, political correctness has stolen the tool that we regulate each others behavior with; ridicule and shaming. It used to be that when you acted this stupid people pointed it out rather forcefully until the individual was humiliated into retracting the offending concept. Sometimes ‘bullying’ is actually a corrective and desirable influence that normalizes behavior and teaches idiots to at least keep their mouths shut. It’s no wonder that a gang of idiots would expand the definition of ‘bullying’ to include rightly pointing out that someone has a bad idea.

  21. Just when you think the gun-grabbers have reached the limit of stupidity, they reach way down deep into the depths of their being, and surpass themselves.

  22. I absolutely LOVE the line:

    “No one was threatened.”

    So either they don’t consider the police rolling in on this kid hard and fast (probably with a whole team of officers to handle the dangerous armed lunatic) to be “threatening” or they don’t consider the potential abrupt denial of his education a threat.

    Or perhaps they don’t consider him a real person. I’m not sure which of these concerns me more.

  23. Long sorry
    I’m old enough to have seen rifles in the back windows of pickup trucks in high school, in metropolitan (San Jose) CA no less. But today if I carried model rocket engines around in my pocket like I did back then, I’ll bet they’d call HMS on me and threaten to send me to GITMO! This is Un-friggin-believable how out of control it’s all gotten.

    As I see it, this as all about control. I believe the kids today have a moral compass that’s more or less the same as it’s always been. They know right from wrong, but will still do stupid things, they are kids after all. But when you factor in the population increase of approx. 25 million kids under 20 (US Census Bur.) since I was in HS, you get an appropriate increase of kids doing stupid stuff. Then if you factor in the increased visibility of stupid kids today with YouTube, Facebook, and other social media, etc. you’re going to end up with more kids trying to out do each other on the stupidity scale. With the vast majority of those being of the male persuasion I might add.

    In my youth unless it was on the nightly news, I/we never heard of what another teen was doing all the way across the country, nor did we care. The one-up-man-ship never took off and we were more or less relegated to repeat what stupid stuff our dad and granddad’s did when they were our age. With some of us taking it to different but new levels, but I digress.

    As parents most of the time do, we’ve forgotten what it was like to be that young. Oh we say we remember but do we really? The day to day struggles have most assuredly faded leaving only the high and low points to punctuate our collective memories. But our kids don’t have that luxury, or curse. Their every exploit is documented and categorized in video and text for perpetuity. So to be good parents we try and relate to our kids sharing benign stories of our youth (leaving out the juicy ones, after all there’s no video proof) and sharing only our good deeds. As if this were enough to turn the media tide of stupid. An onslaught that our kids receive on an hourly basis. It’s not, it wont ever be. Thankfully only a handful of our kids succumb to the most egregious of these stupid behaviors.

    But principals, supervisors and school boards etc. often forgetting where they came from, try to keep stupid (no pun intended) from happening, and out of our kids schools. Which would normally be a good thing except that it’s taken to absurd levels all in the name of controlling the students. They go overboard passing more rules and laws pushing a PC agenda (on many subjects) that dismisses common sense. This creates an environment of paranoia for both the kids and their parents. And allows for an overreaction at the slightest provocation to take place that is devoid of recognizing a stupid behavior for what it truly is, and not some heinous crime.

    School boards like any form of govt. cannot control everything as much as they would like. Though varying degrees of control can be obtained, absolute control is an illusion. When I saw my first Walk/Don’t Walk sign is when recognized that govt. was trying to control everything. I remember thinking at the time, WTF if someone is dumb enough to walk across when cars are coming, they deserve to get their a** run over. You can’t fix stupid. But they forever try to legislate it. As witnessed by the forty billion (figurative, probably more) laws enacted since I first saw that sign and it’s only gone downhill since then.

    Since control is an illusion and you can’t fix stupid, as it either degrades with time or natural selection takes care of it, then less govt. in our lives must be the real solution. Now, anyone want a handgun Pop-Tart?

  24. Well its a damn good thing no one knew about my 3.5 inch folder I carried EVERY SINGLE DAY for all 4 years of high school. I even got “friendliest senior” from my class.
    I’m sure my friends knew, but they didn’t care since I never threatened a soul with it. The teachers MAY have known, but no one said a thing.

    Worst part was I lost that a knife a month after graduation in a car accident.
    Damnit all.

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