Kids Have Constitutional Rights, Too!

Loveland High School student Nathan Myers recently did what many Colorado kids do: He ventured into the great outdoors for some target practice with his mom.

Myers also did what many kids of his generation are inclined to do: He posted videos of his adventure to social media. In the posts, which you can view here and here, Myers shares a few shots of handguns in their cases and a video of himself firing a gun into the wilderness.

Myers’ enthusiasm for exercising his Second Amendment rights ended up getting him in trouble with his local government school.

“A report had come into the police department about the video, and they were told Nate was a threat,” Rally for Our Rights reported. “After showing the videos to the police officers and explaining that they’d simply gone on a mother-son outing to train with their legally owned firearms, the police stated that they had done nothing illegal and were well within their rights. They also determined Nate was not a threat to himself or anyone else and went on their way.”

Despite local law enforcement’s determination that Myers was simply exercising his constitutional rights, Nate’s mother received a call from the Thompson Valley School District informing her that her son was considered a “threat” and that he wasn’t allowed to return to school. The school wouldn’t even provide Nate with the work he would miss while he was suspended.

After a very brief meeting with school officials that reportedly included an apology, Nate Myers was eventually allowed to return to classes. Although Nate’s confrontation with the district ultimately ended with little more than a day of missed class, the significance of his case should not be taken lightly. As Dudley Brown of the National Association for Gun Rights pointed out to Gunpowder Magazine (of which, for full disclosure, I am also an editor), “Nate Myers is being punished by a government school for a right that is enshrined by the very documents that established our nation’s government.”

In a day and age where school shootings have become a common part of the news cycle, it’s understandable Americans are hypersensitive when it comes to students and guns. Even though yours truly is a staunch Second Amendment advocate, I don’t blame whoever reported Myers to the police. They were likely concerned and acted upon their fear. Better safe than sorry.

I do, however, place the blame squarely on the Thompson Valley School District. They punished a student for something he did outside of school. Even worse, they issued a suspension for something that was neither dangerous nor illegal and passed muster with local police. Moreover, Nathan was punished for a practice proven to make society more safe, not less so.

We should all ask: What role should government schools have in the lives of students once they leave school property? Was it the job of the Thompson Valley School District to parent Nate outside of the classroom, especially when he was in the company of his actual parent? And should it be up to the school district to discipline students for activities they engage in outside of the school, when law enforcement officials determined there was nothing amiss?

It’s obvious the district and Loveland High School monumentally misjudged the Myers situation; they even admitted to it. The problem is that what happened in Colorado is not an isolated incident. Government schools have been usurping the role of parents for decades.

In 1999,  the Baltimore Sun reported a group of students was “barred from extracurricular activities for 45 days, because of a long-standing policy that applies to students who knowingly place themselves in ‘close proximity’ to underage drinking or drug use, on or off school grounds.”

Families aren’t even safe from government intrusion in the privacy of their own homes.

“Certain school districts in various states have taken the liberty of imposing a ‘home visit’ requirement on home schoolers,” the Home School Legal Defense Association reports. “Home schoolers who refuse to allow home visits are ‘disapproved’ and often charged with criminal truancy. Usually under a home visit requirement, a school official can visit a home school at any time, observe instruction in the home, inspect facilities, and demand certain changes.”

Nate Myers, like all Americans, has a First Amendment right to post whatever he wants to his personal social media accounts. And he, like the rest of us, has a Second Amendment right to keep, bear, and practice with legally owned firearms. And parents of homeschoolers absolutely are protected by the Fourth and Fifth amendments.

The thing about government is that it is its best interest to grow. Give government bureaucrats an inch and they’ll grab a mile. Give them the power to educate your child during the day, and next they’ll try to dictate what he does, where he goes, and what he thinks outside of the classroom, too.

The only way to halt this chilling government overreach is to get government out of the business of educating children completely.

Teresa Mull (tmull@heartland.org) is a policy advisor for The Heartland Institute and editor of gunpowdermagazine.com.

Loveland High School student Nathan Myers recently did what many Colorado kids do: He ventured into the great outdoors for some target practice with his mom.

Myers also did what many kids of his generation are inclined to do: He posted videos of his adventure to social media. In the posts, which you can view here and here, Myers shares a few shots of handguns in their cases and a video of himself firing a gun into the wilderness.

Myers’ enthusiasm for exercising his Second Amendment rights ended up getting him in trouble with his local government school.

“A report had come into the police department about the video, and they were told Nate was a threat,” Rally for Our Rights reported. “After showing the videos to the police officers and explaining that they’d simply gone on a mother-son outing to train with their legally owned firearms, the police stated that they had done nothing illegal and were well within their rights. They also determined Nate was not a threat to himself or anyone else and went on their way.”

Despite local law enforcement’s determination that Myers was simply exercising his constitutional rights, Nate’s mother received a call from the Thompson Valley School District informing her that her son was considered a “threat” and that he wasn’t allowed to return to school. The school wouldn’t even provide Nate with the work he would miss while he was suspended.

After a very brief meeting with school officials that reportedly included an apology, Nate Myers was eventually allowed to return to classes. Although Nate’s confrontation with the district ultimately ended with little more than a day of missed class, the significance of his case should not be taken lightly. As Dudley Brown of the National Association for Gun Rights pointed out to Gunpowder Magazine (of which, for full disclosure, I am also an editor), “Nate Myers is being punished by a government school for a right that is enshrined by the very documents that established our nation’s government.”

In a day and age where school shootings have become a common part of the news cycle, it’s understandable Americans are hypersensitive when it comes to students and guns. Even though yours truly is a staunch Second Amendment advocate, I don’t blame whoever reported Myers to the police. They were likely concerned and acted upon their fear. Better safe than sorry.

I do, however, place the blame squarely on the Thompson Valley School District. They punished a student for something he did outside of school. Even worse, they issued a suspension for something that was neither dangerous nor illegal and passed muster with local police. Moreover, Nathan was punished for a practice proven to make society more safe, not less so.

We should all ask: What role should government schools have in the lives of students once they leave school property? Was it the job of the Thompson Valley School District to parent Nate outside of the classroom, especially when he was in the company of his actual parent? And should it be up to the school district to discipline students for activities they engage in outside of the school, when law enforcement officials determined there was nothing amiss?

It’s obvious the district and Loveland High School monumentally misjudged the Myers situation; they even admitted to it. The problem is that what happened in Colorado is not an isolated incident. Government schools have been usurping the role of parents for decades.

In 1999,  the Baltimore Sun reported a group of students was “barred from extracurricular activities for 45 days, because of a long-standing policy that applies to students who knowingly place themselves in ‘close proximity’ to underage drinking or drug use, on or off school grounds.”

Families aren’t even safe from government intrusion in the privacy of their own homes.

“Certain school districts in various states have taken the liberty of imposing a ‘home visit’ requirement on home schoolers,” the Home School Legal Defense Association reports. “Home schoolers who refuse to allow home visits are ‘disapproved’ and often charged with criminal truancy. Usually under a home visit requirement, a school official can visit a home school at any time, observe instruction in the home, inspect facilities, and demand certain changes.”

Nate Myers, like all Americans, has a First Amendment right to post whatever he wants to his personal social media accounts. And he, like the rest of us, has a Second Amendment right to keep, bear, and practice with legally owned firearms. And parents of homeschoolers absolutely are protected by the Fourth and Fifth amendments.

The thing about government is that it is its best interest to grow. Give government bureaucrats an inch and they’ll grab a mile. Give them the power to educate your child during the day, and next they’ll try to dictate what he does, where he goes, and what he thinks outside of the classroom, too.

The only way to halt this chilling government overreach is to get government out of the business of educating children completely.

Teresa Mull (tmull@heartland.org) is a policy advisor for The Heartland Institute and editor of gunpowdermagazine.com.