Common Sense-Free Zone: Student Suspended for 10 Days for Possession of Yellow Toy Squirt Gun

It’s happened yet again, and the school superintendent isn’t making any apologies. He’s just following school policy, which says that no weapons, real or toy, are allowed. In this case, a yellow squirt gun fell out of a student’s backpack, which led to the student’s getting a 10-day suspension. The Sun Journal reported:

A 10th-grader was suspended from Lewiston High School [Lewiston, Maine] this week after allegedly bringing a bright yellow squirt gun to school.

A source said the teen was disciplined after the squirt gun fell out of his backpack at the school.

The student was suspended for 10 days in accordance with school policy on firearms, real or otherwise. Some are calling it another case of zero tolerance run amok.

“Would anybody actually mistake this for a real weapon?” demanded the father of another high school student. “Time to get real.”

Not so fast, said Lewiston School Superintendent Bill Webster. Although he was not at liberty to discuss the details of the case, Webster insisted that suspensions are only handed out after the situation is thoroughly investigated and all facts are considered.

“Without comments on the specifics of this case,” Webster said, “I can say that a student bringing a water pistol to school will, at first, be told that they are being suspended from school for 10 days. We then work to get more facts and complete a review that often results in a reduction of the suspension period. Also, it is not uncommon for other factors to enter into the suspension decision, including the level of student cooperation.”

The student was not identified. Webster said he would be willing to speak about the case only if the student’s family signed a release agreeing to it. He defended the move to suspend students under the school policy, which is spelled out at

Webster said the Lewiston school policy is more fair than many others.

“I can assure you,” Webster wrote in an email response to a reporter inquiry, “that unlike some districts, we will work to balance the discipline with the facts of the case. Some districts do not reduce the 10 days and some will even pursue expulsion.”

Webster said the policy cracks down on toy guns for a purpose. The bright yellow toy brought to the high school this week “certainly looks innocent enough on one hand, but can be used in a disruptive way and lead, perhaps, to students bringing other water pistols that may not look so benign,” he said.

These kinds of rules about not bringing certain questionably shaped toys to school only affect those who mean no harm. Those who do mean harm and bring real guns to school won’t be stopped by some written rule about bringing guns (real or otherwise) to school, and they won’t be stopped by a “gun-free zone” sign either.

It’s really not all that different from gun control laws. Those laws only affect the innocent people who want to be able to own guns for self-defense. But laws are increasingly barring them from being able to defend themselves, leaving the guns to law-breakers, who don’t care about gun control laws. Liberals care more about the fact that a gun-wielding murderer violates gun control laws, rather than the fact that an innocent human life was taken.