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Back to February Ed Reporter

Education Reporter
NUMBER 217 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS FEBRUARY 2004

Schools Riddled with Anti-Gun Bias
Second Amendment advocates have compiled impressive evidence of anti-gun bias in school textbooks, media coverage of school violence, and school disciplinary policies.

"What you think your child should be learning about the Constitution, the Second Amendment, violence and firearms may be radically different from what is actually being taught," Jeff Skocilich wrote in Americas 1st Freedom (May 2002). "It is now quite common to regard the Second Amendment as little more than a license to form a militia or National Guard."

Distorted constitutional interpretation is only part of the problem. Consider the following blatantly negative slant found by Skocilich in the history textbook The Enduring Vision (D.C. Heath and Company, 3rd ed.): "Assuming that they would have to fight their way across the plains, settlers prepared for the trip by buying enough guns for an army. In reality, the pioneers were more likely to shoot themselves or each other than to be shot by the usually cooperative Indians, and much more likely to be scalped by the inflated prices charged by merchants than by the Native Americans."

Health textbooks are shot through with inaccurate statistics and propaganda about firearms, such as the following statements unearthed by Skocilich: "The law forbids people of any age from carrying a concealed weapon." (False. Concealed-carry is legal in most states.) "Guns are the weapons most likely to be used to harm teens." (Actually, other weapons account for almost 80% of aggravated assaults against teens, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Index.)

Prominent gun advocate John Lott, author of More Guns, Less Crime, has made a career of exposing anti-gun bias in the news media. After a notorious school shooting two years ago at Appalachian Law School, only four out of 280 news stories he reviewed mentioned that the students who stopped the attack had guns and pointed them at the attacker. Using words like "subdued," "restrained," "overpowered" and "tackled," 72 stories described how the attacker was foiled without even noting that the student heroes had guns.

"Unfortunately, the coverage in this case was not unusual. In the other public school shootings in which citizens with uns have stopped attacks, rarely do more than 1 percent of the news stories mention that citizens with guns stopped the attacks," noted Lott (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 2-2-02).

Hostility to guns in any form also permeates school disciplinary policies. In November 2003, a federal appeals court unanimously ruled that the Albemarle County public schools may not enforce a dress code that prohibits students from wearing clothing depicting images of weapons. The suit was filed by the National Rifle Association on behalf of a student who was ordered to turn his NRA T-shirt inside out because school officials feared it could encourage violence. The shirt bore silhouettes of gunmen and the words "NRA Sports Shooting Camp."

The court said the policy is so broad that it could prohibit clothing displaying the Virginia state seal, which depicts a woman armed with a spear standing with one foot on the chest of a vanquished tyrant. It also could cover the musket-toting pioneer mascot of a neighboring high school and the crossed-sabers logo of the state universitys sports teams, the court stated. (AP story reprinted at timesdispatch.com, 12-1-03)

Zero-tolerance policies have trapped numerous students for harmless possession or drawing of firearms. A Vermont junior was suspended under a zero-tolerance policy in November for taking an unloaded deer rifle onto school grounds. He had been hunting before school and forgot the weapon was in his car, according to his mother. (New York Times story reprinted at boston.com, 11-21-03) A 16-year-old boy was expelled from a Florida school November 10 for a stick-figure drawing of a person shooting another person. He made the sketch during geometry class and passed it along to a friend. (news-press.com, 11-11-03) See also Education Reporter, Dec. 2003.


 
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