The campaign against guns has reached such a fever pitch that an Ohio seventh-grader was suspended from school for 10 days for simply “liking” a photo of an airsoft gun on Instagram.
Zachary Bowlin saw the photo, which was succinctly captioned, “Ready.” He “liked” the photo, prompting Edgewood Middle School to suspend him.
The boy said, “I don’t think I did anything wrong. The] next morning, they called me down and, like, patted me down and checked me for weapons. Then, they told me I was getting expelled or suspended or whatever.”
The school sent a note to Zachary’s parents stating the reason he was suspended was “liking a post on social media that indicated potential school violence.” His father, Martin Bowlin, snapped, “I was livid. He never shared, he never commented, never made a threatening post … [he] just liked it.” He added, “My wife called and said he’d been pulled in to the office, and he was being suspended because he liked a picture on Instagram that his friend posted of a weapon, of an airsoft gun. It was 10 days suspension with the possibility of expulsion. I’m like, ‘For liking a gun? Did he make a comment or threat or anything?’ And it’s like, ‘No. He just liked a picture.’ I’m like, ‘Well, this can’t happen.’’”
Martin Bowlin also commented, “I mean, I figured he’d cleaned his gun and was ready, wanting to play and stuff. The young man that posted it and my son, and probably four or five other kids, play airsoft in our field. So I pretty much knew what it was about. So I really wasn’t concerned.”
The superintendent of Edgewood City Schools, Russ Fussnecker, informed WXIX, “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.” He also stated, “When you’re dealing with school districts nowadays and there are pictures of guns, regardless of the kind of gun it is, it’s a gun. And there are certain images or words, I can’t determine if that’s playful or real. And until I can get to an investigation, I have to look into it, those students have to be removed.”
Fussnecker referred to a school shooting that happened last year at nearby Madison Township Junior-Senior High School in which a 14-year-old wounded two students and was charged with attempted murder, saying, “I’m here for all students. And at the end of the day, and I’ve said it time and time again, parents will forgive us for certain things. They’re not going to forgive us if their kid doesn’t come home. They’re just not. And it’s difficult to even think about it, but it happened 10 minutes up the street almost.”
He concluded, “I cannot just turn my head and act as if, well, I think it may have been playful and take the chance that something happens. I can’t take a chance.”
The suspension was lifted after the school communicated with Zachary’s parents.