Boy, 6, Suspended For Making Gun Gesture with Hand

A boy in suburban Washington, D.C., was suspended for the absolutely terrifying crime of making his hand into the shape of a gun — surely something no decent, law-abiding 6-year-old has ever even contemplated before. Clearly the boy had murder on his mind…and in his fiendish fingers. Kudos to the thoughtful administrators at Roscoe Nix Elementary School in Silver Spring, MD, for stopping this pint-size madman before he had his way.

The boy is forbidden to show up at school today, the first day after vacation. As a school system administrator told News4: “Generally, in an incident involving the behavior of our younger students, we will make sure that the student and his family are well-informed of any behavior that needs to change and understand the consequences if the behavior does not change.”

I like that harsh language because, frankly, a kid like that is almost beyond hope. Zero Tolerance? Ha! In my day, he’d be in a sweat box at Sing-Sing. But perhaps the family, well-informed of his psychotic tendencies, will be able to make him understand the consequences of his evildoing before he goes completely insane.

And becomes a school administrator. – L

What school administrators saw in a boy’s hand gesture.


79 Responses to Boy, 6, Suspended For Making Gun Gesture with Hand

  1. RobC January 2, 2013 at 8:15 am #

    The only part of this that surprised me is that he wasn’t led away in handcuffs by the police.

  2. Earth.W January 2, 2013 at 8:32 am #

    My son would be in prison were he enrolled in an American school.

  3. Earth.W January 2, 2013 at 8:34 am #

    Much safer, thank you. Hope they keep said boy clear of Barbie dolls for he might become a raging homosexual too.

  4. Mike in Virginia January 2, 2013 at 8:57 am #

    The most shocking part of this story is that the child is 6. I have a child, only one-year younger, who is the sweetest boy (loves to hug and kiss, likes to share, shows genuine concern for others) – except when he isn’t getting enough attention (yes, he’s one of “those”). In his efforts to get attention, or sometimes just to try to assert control over a social situation he is uncomfortable with (like dinnertime routines, or disciplined activities at school), he performs negative attention-seeking behavior. It could be shouting loudly over everyone else, whispering mean things into another child’s ear, or, I hate to say, he will say “I am going to kill you” or “I wish you would die.” That doesn’t seem to bother other kids, but it raises a huge “shock factor” with the adults, which is EXACTLY why he does it. Yes, we have talked to him, yes, we punish him when he does it and try to redirect him into saying positive things, etc. But he is 5, and has a long way to go before he is socially mature enough to completely understand the implications of what he is saying and doing. One of the reasons for sending him to school is so that he can mature socially in a setting with other students. He is not the worst in his class by far, but he used to be, and that says a lot about how well a school setting has done for him that we could not achieve as parents by ourselves. But then, we pay for him to go to a private Montessori school, where the idea of suspending a child for such behavior is exactly the OPPOSITE of what needs to be done. What has happened to our public schools?

    Also, we don’t allow toy guns (or real ones) of any kind in our house. My wife hates them and is appalled by the idea of a child playing at violence. We avoided letting our kids see any movies or television shows that depicted even cartoon fantasy violence. It worked for a while, until our son started school. Soon enough, he obsessed with “shooting bad guys” and was fashioning guns out of anything he could find in the house. Sometimes I think when you try to shelter your children from something, when they are finally exposed to it on their own, they are unprepared and you have no idea how they might react. I have finally started watching Star Wars with my son (which is now his favorite movie), so that I can explain “good guys” and “bad guys” and have some context when the other kids on the playground act out the movies. If he is anything like me when I was his age, his favorite thing to do will be to play with guns, even if he has to make them himself out of sticks (or just his fingers). And while this story does concern me about how a public school would view it if he did this on the playground, the good news is that public schools don’t do recess anymore, so he won’t have the opportunity. Although, that makes me wonder, did the kid in this story have adequate recess time? I will admit that gun gesture is inappropriate in the classroom (not suspension worthy, but still wrong), are the children getting enough “playtime” at school to help get these things out of their system? I am just imagining how my own son would react after sitting in a classroom for 6 hours. I think after the first hour, he would be doing a lot more than just making gun gestures.

  5. Warren January 2, 2013 at 9:14 am #

    I would take the day off work, take my boy to school, and dare these idiots not to let him attend. Oh did I mention, I would have reporters in tow.

  6. Lollipoplover January 2, 2013 at 9:17 am #

    A boy in my 4th grader’s class got a detention for saying “pow, pow, pow”. Nothing surprises me anymore.

  7. Jim Collins January 2, 2013 at 9:57 am #

    I’d probably just be getting out of prison about now. We used to take our plastic “tommy guns” to school. We’d split up into teams and play war at recess.

    During the winter, we would take our die cast metal fighter jets and run around the room, making jet noises and shooting each other down. Our teacher went along with it as long as we didn’t get too loud or run too fast. If you did, your jet got locked in a drawer for the rest of the day.

  8. Marc Armitage January 2, 2013 at 9:58 am #

    Another one for my collection! Thanks Lenore.

    Reminds me of the case of the young deaf child in Nebraska in which his school asked his parents to consider changing his first name (Hunter) because the sign language used to represent it resembled a gun.

    When I was regularly teaching playwork students in the UK one of the debate questions used often was something along the lines of,

    ‘A child on the playground runs up to you, makes the shape of a gun with fingers and shouts “Bang, bang”. How will you react?’

    Boy did that one get people going.

  9. Captain America January 2, 2013 at 10:04 am #

    I got a buzz reading “Mike in Virginia”‘s comments.

    A friend of mine tried to raise her boys without plastic guns, etc.

    So they simply used sticks in the yard instead! There really IS a difference between the sexes.

  10. Lollipoplover January 2, 2013 at 10:11 am #

    “… the good news is that public schools don’t do recess anymore”

    No, that’s really not good news.
    All elementary kids (especially six year-old boys) need to run and move to get the wiggles out so that they don’t do stupid things like play guns inside and get in trouble.

    @Captain America- my son used a bent Barbie to fashion a gun when we “banned” weapons. .

  11. Jen C. January 2, 2013 at 10:19 am #

    Something similar happened with my son when he was 6! He was sent to the principal’s office for using “finger guns”. I thought the school was joking when they told me I needed to get my son’s “violent tendencies” under control or the next step would be suspension. I grew up with a younger brother and didn’t think anything of finger guns since my brother and ALL his friends and, come to think of it, every other guy I know, made their hand into a gun shape as part of their play growing up. And, to the best of my knowledge, not one of these guys grew up to commit actual gun violence with actual guns. And I’m happy to report that my now 12-year old son seems to be developing into a fine young man despite the fact that I allowed him to incorporate adventure into his imaginary play. Although, to be on the “safe” side, we always make sure his finger guns are unloaded and holstered before he leaves for school each day 😉

    Oh, and this happened in our little Canadian city, an hour outside of Toronto so the hysteria has definitely spread beyond the U.S.

  12. Mike in Virginia January 2, 2013 at 10:24 am #

    @Lollipoplover – I was being sarcastic when I said “the good news is that public schools don’t do recess anymore.” I mean, of COURSE that is a huge part of the problem. I don’t know how prevalent the lack of recess is, I have heard a lot of anecdotal comments about this school or that school reducing or eliminating it. I’d be interested in statistics if somebody has them.

  13. Warren January 2, 2013 at 10:26 am #

    People simply have to get past the notion that guns are evil. They are not, nor have they ever been. They are nothing more than a mechanical device that has the ability to inflict harm and kill. So do knives, chainsaws, rope, drills, hammers, baseball bats, golf clubs, and any number or other things.

    Having anyone of these things turned on a person for the purpose of harming or killing, is up to the individual that makes that choice.

    Humans are no different than other animals in nature, except for our ability to make these devices. We are still ruled by our intellect, instincts and emotions. Unfortunately our intellect is the weakest of these. More times than not our instincts and emotions will overrule our intellect.

    We like to claim we are a species that seeks peace and harmony. Like any other animal, some individuals do, but as a whole…….we are aggressive, territorial, protective and violent.

    Possibly just maybe, all these years of try to suppress our aggressive nature, and instincts. All these years of telling generation after generation that aggression and violence is wrong, is coming back to bite us in the ass.

    Maybe without allowing these parts of us to come out, via sports, play, or whatever, it is getting pent up until with some it explodes. Human nature is just that natural. You cannot zero tolerance nature.

  14. Marion January 2, 2013 at 10:31 am #

    Yes, because everyone knows that pointing fingers in a gun-like matter is equivalent of a gateway drug to violence.

    *eye roll*

  15. CrazyCatLady January 2, 2013 at 10:50 am #

    Happily, last year when my son and his friend went running down the hall, pointing their fingers in the same way and making Star Wars gun noises, the Principal just smiled at them and told them to stop running. (He even lets my son bring his multitool to school if he wants – with the rule that it only comes out if the teacher needs it – never to show it off to other kids. And yes, teachers have needed it in the classes he is in.)

    Boys will be boys. They will love dinosaurs at age 3. At age or a little later, they will discover swords and guns, made from sticks, legos or other building material. Yes, I have seen mothers delay this play, but at some point, all of the boys engage in it if allowed out of sight of mom.

    This boy, at MOST, should have been warned, the next time maybe sit through part of recess, at MOST. I understand adults get testy at stupid things. This boy may not have even been aware of the school shooting, and certainly, if aware, not understanding of what it means for 26 people to actually die.

  16. Tim January 2, 2013 at 10:56 am #

    No wonder you’re confused as to why this was a big deal. This article left off one crucial detail, which I read on another news site: he not only pointed his fingers, he also said “pow.” Let me repeat: HE. ALSO. SAID. POW! Now do you see why this was so dangerous? His poor victim has no doubt been scarred for life, not to mention he came within a hair’s breadth of really being shot.

    No, suspension is too good for this deviant. Duct tape his fingers together for a few years until he learns such behavior cannot be tolerated. That’ll teach him, assuming he’s not too far beyond hope at this point.

  17. Dave January 2, 2013 at 10:57 am #

    How do they plan to stop and prevent this behavior? A rational discussion with a 6 year-old? How do these people live with themselves? How do they get along in society. This is so over the top.

  18. CrazyCatLady January 2, 2013 at 11:02 am #

    Ack! I just realized there is a gun sitting next to me at my computer! It is made from blocks that stick together, designed to teach kids how to count and do addition!

  19. Rhonda January 2, 2013 at 11:35 am #

    First grade teacher here. My students (many are 6) make gun gestures all the time. They build guns and bombs out of Legos. They draw them on paper and cut them out. I do not see a problem with this behavior, and would love to ignore it so the kids can enjoy their imaginative playtime. BUT… I know that one day they might have a crazy teacher, so I simply go to them and say, “No gun stuff allowed at school” and have them put it away, take it apart, etc. I feel bad squashing their game, but I also want them to know that someday it could get them in real trouble. I would never, ever consider taking a kid to an administrator just because they made a gun gesture, a gun noise, or anything of the sort. Someday though, some teacher or student might, so they must know: “No gun stuff allowed at school.”

  20. Rhonda L January 2, 2013 at 11:47 am #

    There has GOT to be something else going on with the kid at school. This must be a catalyst for some other behavior issues they are dealing with at the school with this boy. I mean seriously.. there is no way.

  21. Warren January 2, 2013 at 12:22 pm #


    Sorry, but I disagree. This boy did absolutely nothing wrong. He does not need to be warned, counselled or talk with.

    The Sandy Hook event has nothing to do with this child. Therefore he does not need to modify his behaviour because of it. If adults are too sensitive to such things, that is the adults issue to deal with. Not this child’s.

  22. HRu January 2, 2013 at 1:22 pm #

    I am sensing that we are preaching to the choir. Gosh, if only there had been an armed policeman to respond to this 6yo threat…oh wait, let’s think about this. (You all understand the sarcasm.)

    As for kids with their saturated fascination of guns, bombs, etc., all I can say is *Angry Birds, *Star Wars and *a combination of both. There’s no way to detach; as parents trying to control their kids’ environment in this society we’re screwed. What I hope for is some level of competence in our officials and that they live in the same world as us.

  23. Warren January 2, 2013 at 1:59 pm #


    Really, Angry Birds, Star Wars……? I guess all the old western’s going back to radio days, had nothing to do with it. All the wars fought throughout the black powder era had nothing to do with it. Mom and Dad hunting have nothing to do with it. It’s those damn video games.
    Come on, as long as there has been guns, kids have played with their version of guns.
    There is absolutely nothing wrong with kids playing war, cowboys and indians, cops and robbers or whatever they want to.
    Again people it is not the tool, it is the sick person using the tool that is wrong.

  24. Rae January 2, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

    In Kindergarten (a couple years ago), my son told another kid “I’m gonna kill you”. We don’t have weapons as toys at our house either, I limit TV, ect. Luckily, he had a teacher like Rhonda. She spoke with him and sent me an email, asking me to check in with him about it at home. We talked about it, I explained it wasn’t a nice way to talk… then heard myself say it about a late delivery service a couple days later. (if they are late again, I’ll kill them)…whoops. The climate of sensitivity that our kids live in is baffling…

  25. Mike in Virginia January 2, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

    @Rhonda, I understand your point about warning kids because some other crazy teacher or administrator might have a problem with the child’s behavior in the future, but isn’t that part of the problem? Most teachers and administrators that I have spoken to over the years regarding crazy overreactions to things like this tend to disagree, but always make the point “I am okay with this in my classroom, but I know it is a problem for some people, so I need to stop it so the kid doesn’t get in trouble in the future.” So “some people” are making the rules for “all people.” Discipline, like safety, end up catering to the least common denominator. I know it is probably too large of a step to ask a teacher to take, but I would really love to see some of them stand up and say “this is ridiculous and I’m not going along with it.”

  26. HRu January 2, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

    @Warren – I am sure that I wasn’t being clear. We agree that kids playing at war is natural, not wrong – see your humanity/biology comment at 10:26am. :-)

    I believe in the innocence of children and that we’re all struggling/dealing/coping with influences beyond our control, including the saturated pop culture at large (news, violence, sex, public policy and all). I don’t deny the existence of war or violence. I agree that it’s the individual’s responsibility to be accountable for actions – whomever that person is…a deranged gunman, a school administrator, a teacher, a parent.

    My comment was personal – aren’t they all -, which I should have explained…I have a 5yo who loves Angry Birds Star Wars…he draws bombs, battle scenes (with birds and pigs), uses rolled-up paper as light sabers to fight his dad “Darth Maul”…my hope is that his teacher – lovely woman – doesn’t suspend him if he did what this 6yo did. But I guess that depends on a rational school policy and level-headed officials, which seems to be too much.

  27. ifsogirl January 2, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

    I find it funny, that in a country that is VERY vocal about keeping their second amendment rights, that a child making a gun with his fingers get’s susspended. Isn’t this a country that has a very loud faction screaming from my cold dead hands? Since the Sandy Hook tragedy I have seen countless articles defending the second ammendment. We want our guns but god forbid a child copies us. I’m sorry maybe it’s because I’m Canadian and grew up in a different culture, but doesn’t something about that seem strange?

  28. Yan Seiner January 2, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

    I would argue the opposite. When we prohibit a behavior altogether, we also prevent teaching responsibility about that behavior. The US has a huge teenage drinking problem, much bigger than most places in Europe, where teens are allowed to drink at somewhere around 14-16, depending on the country.

    We prohibit it entirely, which means we force it underground. Our kids drink outside of any adult supervision, so they never learn to drink responsibly, and many die as a result. (Look up the stats for the number of kids who die during freshman week.)

    If we prohibit even the mention of guns until the child is an “adult” we will force the gun toting mindset underground, where we cannot teach the difference between play / recreation / real harm.

    So bring on the play acting and teach kids how to act responsibly rather than teach them this sort of irrational nonsense.

  29. Silver Fang January 2, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

    Didn’t it used to be common for kids to play cops and robbers and cowboys and indians on the school playground? What happened?

  30. Alida January 2, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

    Next step…Ritalin!

  31. Peter January 2, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

    A friend of mine tried to raise her boys without plastic guns, etc. So they simply used sticks in the yard instead!

    Which is far more useful because said stick can be a gun or laser blaster!

    I never had a toy gun as a child. I never needed one because we lived near the woods and there were plenty of sticks that would work just fine. I found a good one that even had a little knot where the trigger would be. I would keep that one in my tree/space station.

    Ah, youthful memories…

  32. Warren January 2, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

    Sorry for the misunderstanding. Thank you for understanding and the clarification.

  33. Jacki Proctor January 2, 2013 at 6:50 pm #

    Did you see the story back in August about the Grand Island School District in Nebraska wanted a three year old hearing impaired boy to change the sign for his name because it resembled a “weapon”. his name is Hunter and he was using the registered sign of “Signing Exact English”. This country has really all common sense with the zero tolerance policy.

  34. Jynet January 2, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

    I have just no words for the crazy… but I had to mention how much I love that cannon picture. Perfect!

  35. hineata January 2, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

    I have been told off mildly a couple of times at school for letting the juniors make guns and swords out of lego, but really…..imagination is imagination. I hate to think what the principal would have done to ‘good girls’ like myself and my friends, who had our own hideout in a tree and used to hurl actual rocks at the local boys when they got too close to the same.

    Personally I only like real guns for hunting, but in what universe is a finger gun dangerous?

    Now, giving a middle finger salute in certain neighbourhoods is a different story….but even then the only person in danger is the one giving the ‘salute’, not those on the recieving end!

  36. Donald January 2, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

    Amazing but not surprising.

    The ‘Experts’ that dictate the policies of schools have to keep coming up with different ways to curb violence. If they don’t keep adding new material, they won’t have a job. If a school goes against the policy advised by the expert then the school administrators can lose their job. This is especially true when you have people such as Irving Pinsky (the Connecticut lawyer/ambulance chaser) running around freely. These people are hard to stop. (It took years for the CIA to stop Bin Laden)

    The gun gesture with the hand has been a ‘problem’ in several schools. My favorite one is

    Why do the schools spend millions to hire these ‘Experts’? BTW the experts also tell schools that they need to continue to hire experts.

    Am I missing something? I thought that schools are the place where you send your children to become smart. Perhaps they are trying to be a very good bad example of what can happen in a bureaucracy.

  37. CrazyCatLady January 2, 2013 at 8:30 pm #

    Warren, if there “is” a rule against guns, (which was the case with the large preschool/afterschool program I worked with) then there should be age appropriate consequences. But, if this child really had issues before this as the school claims, then there should have been notes home to the parents. And then, after the parents have a chance to talk to the boy about the stupid rule, then if he continues to do it, then action may needed, in age appropriate ways. Suspension was not age appropriate.

    Granted, it was over 20 years ago when I worked at that preschool (with 80 kids) and it was in an area where many people hunted deer, geese and ducks. Pretty much as a teacher all I had to do was remind the kids that it wasn’t allowed. Yes, even at the time I thought it was a stupid rule. I don’t think that I ever had a kid sit down (the usual thing that happened for misbehavior) because just saying something stopped it right there. Which is what should have happened in this case.

  38. Wrjfr January 2, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

    Oh my. I grew up in the most peaceful family. No TV, no movies, no violence, no toy guns, no violent anything. When we were outside, our favorite game–all three of us–was “silly war game.” Sticks became guns and we shot each other and anything else that we imagined moving through the woods. Was it harmful? no. Do I shudder now? no. Why do kids like that create imaginary guns, of all things? Because, YOU IDIOTS (those at that school), our culture is saturated, soaked, swamped with GUNS. Images of guns, toy guns, guns in the hands of toys, real guns. They are EVERYWHERE. We have accepted as a country that it is perfectly acceptable for kids from birth up to see and experience images of guns and toy guns and even real guns. Kids will no more stop creating guns than they will stop sitting in a cardboard box making “roooom rooooom” noises and turning that imaginary steering wheel. Is this good? I think it’s terrible that the idea of killing considered just fine in a small child. But whatever we think, how any any person with a grain of sense blame the child? Those school administrators should be suspended. Permanently.

  39. sherri January 2, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

    I work as a lunch supervisor in my kids school. The kids are not allowed to use pretend guns inside or out on the playground. When I see it happening I turn my back. I am not going to tell them they can’t play pretend! I also work part time in a child care. I let the kids make guns out of Lego. I’ve only had one parent complain. My own son chewed a cheese sandwich into the shape of a gun once. No one was injured.

  40. Alex R. January 2, 2013 at 11:18 pm #

    In eighth grade drafting class, I had an assignment to draw a gun, and so did everyone else. It’s a complete miracle that we didn’t arm ourselves, go crazy, and slaughter everyone at the school.

  41. John January 3, 2013 at 2:12 am #

    If I were this boy’s parents, I’d find a good Lawyer and file a huge lawsuit against this school. They have no right to deny this child an education via a suspension over something as trivial as this.

  42. Jenny Islander January 3, 2013 at 3:00 am #

    My old school had the very practical stipulation that you could not throw or swing or wave or “aimlessly” swish things at people. Brandishing was A-OK, unless you had the other person backed up against a wall because that wouldn’t be playing fair. This wasn’t a written policy AFAIK, just plain common sense. You couldn’t even have snowball wars with all parties consenting for the very practical reason that the playground was surfaced with gravel, so it was hard not to make a snowball with rocks in it.

    I wonder what the policy at that school is now. Has the stupid gotten this far north?

  43. Tamara January 3, 2013 at 7:34 am #

    @Warren: I respectfully challenge that while guns of course, are not evil-we all know “guns don’t kill people…” however, the other weapons you mentioned, which could be just as dangerous, require much closer, visceral contact. With a gun, you may not even have a chance to be warned or defend yourself. A gun, in a coward’s hands, aimed at people? Very evil.

  44. AW13 January 3, 2013 at 9:29 am #

    @ifsogirl: I can see how this pro-2nd amendment/anti-gun dichotomy would appear confusing to someone who doesn’t live in the states. As someone who does live in the states, my take on it is this: there is a very vocal faction in this country who wants to make any expression of violence, be it real or perceived, illegal. This is the faction that does things like suspend a 6 year old for making a gun with his finger. There is a very vocal faction of people who are very pro 2nd amendment and want guns available to all with no restrictions. These two factions garner the lion’s share of media attention, because our media seems to want us all operating on emotion at all times, with no common sense or logical thought involved. As a result, the picture to the rest of the world is strange, to say the least. But I think it’s safe to say that the vast majority of 2nd amendment supporting Americans do not want everyone to have unrestricted access to guns, nor do they want a free-for-all as far as violent behavior in children goes. The truth is somewhere in the middle, but since it doesn’t make for good news ratings or emotion-saturated stories, it never gets mentioned.

  45. Warren January 3, 2013 at 10:36 am #


    No where did I read there was other issues with this kid. Where did you read that.


    You can blame guns all you want, but all that does is muddy the waters. Concentrating on the guns will not solve anything. People have been killing people since we crawled out of the ooze, after the big bang. You could strip the planet of all guns, completely and just as many people will be killed that year. Sorry to break it to you, but people will continue to kill people no matter what we do. Guns are the least of the problem. Prime example, back in the early 1900s, the school massacre pulled off with a car bomb.

  46. Captain America January 3, 2013 at 11:17 am #

    Not a gun fan here, but I can read the red in the eyes of the gun-banners and I’m a bit frightened by it.

    If guns did not exist, then boys would pretend they had spears or clubs or swords.

    It’s really called the male game of banging on each other for fun. Nothing wrong with that. It’s called tussling.

    The more that women are put in charge of things, the more this behavior is misunderstood and boys get “in trouble” for doing male behavior.

    I would like to see the grades schools better engineered for males.

  47. Rhonda January 3, 2013 at 11:31 am #

    @Mike in VA: I definitely see your point. But, like you said, I’m just one person, I need my job, and more than anything I just want to be with the kids. And I don’t think there is a problem with warning kids about something that others don’t like. I kind of do the same thing when they say a word that another student deems offensive. I’ve had Kid B tattle because Kid A said “butt”. Of course it doesn’t bother me, and Kid A is allowed to say it, but I tell them that out of courtesy maybe they should try not to say it in front of Kid B. It’s just a matter if knowing how to get along in society. We all know not to joke about bombs in an airport. I think it’s a ridiculous rule, but I’m certainly not going to be the one to make the joke just to prove a point.

  48. Jenny Islander January 3, 2013 at 11:32 am #

    If you’re going to be a misogynist jackass, please quit using Captain America’s name. Lobo might work better. Or Mister Nice Guy.

  49. Amanda Matthews January 3, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

    @Captain America it’s just called the HUMAN game of banging on each other. When kids are left to their own devices, and not had a “girls play like this while boys play like this” mentality forced on them (by the separating of them in daycares/schools or by their parents – i.e. parents only allowing/encouraging girls to have female friends – by the parents giving them only certain kinds of toys, by the examples of their peers, etc.), they all play the same way. I don’t force that on my kids, and my daughter tussles as well as plays with dolls, my sons tussle as well as play with dolls. They all build guns out of legos, they all pick up sticks and shoot each other.

    Females are just a little more easy to force to sit down and shut up. It’s more difficult to get males to do that without druging them. Once puberty starts there is a difference in what girls want to do vs what boys want to do; but grade schools go against the nature of ALL kids. They’re holding all kids to the standards of adult women, expecting them to act like adult women; and it’s easier to force girls to act like adult women, but imo it’s wrong to force either gender into it.

    I would like to see grade schools better engineered for CHILDREN.

    (I DO think that the more women are put in charge, the more things get screwed up though…)

  50. Ben January 3, 2013 at 1:00 pm #

    Warren said “People simply have to get past the notion that guns are evil. They are not, nor have they ever been. They are nothing more than a mechanical device that has the ability to inflict harm and kill. So do knives, chainsaws, rope, drills, hammers, baseball bats, golf clubs, and any number or other things.”

    Warren, guns are evil. All the other items have legitimate uses that do not involve hurting people or the intention of hurting people. Guns only have the purpose of inflicting harm or threatening to do so.

  51. Coccinelle January 3, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

    Tamara resumed very well what I wanted to say.

    “You could strip the planet of all guns, completely and just as many people will be killed that year”

    I seriously can’t believe I read that! You seriously think what you just wrote???

    When you are able to come up with one good reason why assault rifles are needed by American citizens… actually, don’t bother, I won’t change my mind.

    “My students (many are 6) make gun gestures all the time. They build guns and bombs out of Legos. They draw them on paper and cut them out.”

    Is that normal for American kids? Is that normal for today’s kids? I’ve never seen in my life any kids drawing guns or making guns with legos. I personally don’t think it’s normal for a child to be fascinated by guns like what I’m reading here. A gun sandwich? Really?

  52. Jenny Islander January 3, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

    @Ben: Funny, when I was growing up guns were tools for getting food or sports equipment for a challenging target shooting game.

    They’re objects. Things made of metal and plastic and sometimes wood. They don’t lie there whispering, “Killllll . . . killllll.” The presence of a firearm does not plant the thought of murder in a person’s mind.

  53. JJ January 3, 2013 at 1:45 pm #

    Question. If an elemetary school kid went up to another kid and made non-contact “pretend sexual gestures” (which from what I understand, happens) would you see anything wrong with that? Not suspension-worthy of course (we all agree that’s bananas) but would you shrug and say “oh well, kids will be kids” and defend it like pretending to shoot someone, or would you think it was appropriate to have a talk with him about the implications of pretend innappropriate behavior? Maybe its not the same thing, but I think there would be a lot of parallels there.

  54. Donna (the other one) January 3, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

    @Coccinelle – yes, you could strip the planet of guns and just as many people would be killed. Killers would mow people down with cars (or airliners), they would use fertilizer and gasoline to make bombs, they would shoot arrows at each other, and maybe even use tomahawks to remove their enemies’ scalps.

    it’s ENTIRELY normal. My boy is constantly running around with bows, arrows (made of eraser-tipped straws), “lightsabers,” and guns. And then, even at nine, he crawls into my lap for hugs and kisses.

    Sick? Not at all. This has been going on for probably 600 years, given that the gun was invented in the 15th century.

  55. Jenny Islander January 3, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

    @JJ: Pointing a finger and going “pew pew” at another kid is usually an invitation to play IME. There is a brief pause to sort out who is going to be Optimus Prime and who is Starscream (or who is Luke, who is Leia, and who gets to be Chewbacca and make the most noise) and then the game is on. Or the kid being “targeted” says, “I don’t want to play that,” end of conversation.

    Juvenile pseudo-sexual displays are little kids trying on adult sexual aggression and they need to be talked to, I agree. As do their parents. When the boys form a pack and chase the girls around with their flies unzipped, waggling their index fingers outward at crotch level as if they were penises, that is not “just boys being boys.” It is coming from somewhere and it needs to be restrained.

  56. Warren January 3, 2013 at 6:03 pm #


    Guns are evil? Please explain how an inanimate object can be evil. Humans can be evil, guns, knives, bombs and the like are not evil. Yes they can be used for evil actions, by a human, but they do not possess the ability to be evil.
    Yes some guns were made for the purpose of killing humans. Oh but wait, so was the broadsword, sabre and many other weapons developed by humans over the ages.
    People have been killing people long before guns came along, and will do so long after they are gone.

    Do you honestly believe that without guns, people killing people would stop? If anything it would be worse. They would turn to other ways, such as toxins, biologicals and explosives. These are not target specific, and would make for alot more victims, that were not the original target.
    As for the assault rifle debate, I hate to burst your bubble but someone intent on killing a bunch of kids, in a gun free zone, could do just as much with a shotgun or hunting rifle.

  57. vas January 4, 2013 at 12:16 am #


    From this and similar news I get the idea that some force or forces in the USA are trying to instill in children the idea that weapons are bad and must be shunned. How are they going to defend their country or their families when they have to, with this early instilled aversion to weapons? Do you expect them to change overnight when they become soldiers and defenders? That’s impossible. To have a nation of gun-fearing pacifists can be fatal. Is this some kind of anti-USA plot?

    Playing warlike games has always been considered normal for children. There have always been “good guys” and “enemies” in such games, and nobody has wanted to play for the “enemy”.

    People may have the illusion that handling guns is for professionals only. But where are they going to find those professionals if the whole generation is indoctrinated against weapons?

  58. Jenny Islander January 4, 2013 at 2:54 am #

    @vas: It isn’t an anti-USA plot. It’s an obsession with making schools run smoothly and predictably in order to generate the statistics that are now used to determine school funding. The thing is that the metrics are nonsensical; No Child Left Behind is a complete boondoggle. But they have to be met or no money. So the children are ground up in the gears.

  59. Yan Seiner January 4, 2013 at 9:13 am #

    @Warren: You’re being disingeneous. I’ve studied fencing, Japanese sworsdmanship, I have a couple of reproduction renaissance swords. I also carried an M16 for quite a while, and I shoot semi-competitively.

    With an M16 style rifle, I can keep up an effective rate of fire in excess of 1 round/second, through magazine changes. I can get 30 round magazines, which means that I only need to pause for less than 5 seconds every minute for mag changes.

    I can hit a mansize target at 50 yards 10 times in just over 5 seconds with a semiautomatic rifle.

    I can hit the same target only about once every 3 seconds with a bolt action.

    I cannot hit that target at all with a sabre, a katana, or a two handed renaissance sword.

    Shooting an M16 style weapon is fun, but it’s a killing weapon, a weapon made to kill many people as quickly as possible. While it can be adapted to other uses, its primary use is to kill people.

    The whole argument of “all guns are OK for anyone to buy” is deeply disturbing, especially in light of the shootings taking place more and more often.

    Yes, people will quote the 1927 bombing, but it was 30 years before the next school killing. Now it’s a few months. It’s time to have a rational discussion about safety and security, which must involve gun control of some sort.

  60. Coccinelle January 4, 2013 at 9:55 am #


    I never said that killings would stop! I was reacting to the statement that said ‘the exact same amount”. And now you say it would be more? Sorry I can’t take you seriously.

    And for the assault rifle debate like you said. Even if someone can do just the same amount of damage without them, I don’t understand why they are necessary. Why is that a justification? Everybody could live their life perfectly fine without them. So why allow them just on the pretext that other, less heavy guns are as dangerous? I don’t understand. You might as well allow everybody grenades on the account that everybody can make a home-made bomb! That said, I don’t believe it’s true.


    Sorry but it seems that I can’t understand how the fact that citizens have easy access to guns can’t increase the number of killings. I’m not talking about wars. There will always be wars, I’m not that delusional.

    I also think it’s normal to play with toys and engage in pretend play. I just find it worrisome to be obsessed with guns like some commenters were describing. I never said it was sick!


    I seriously can’t believe what I’m reading here, I just never should have come here. We are not talking about guns for defending your nation or territory. We are talking about guns for everyone. How is it so hard to make a distinction. You think nations like Japan are not military heavy? You think they can’t get soldiers to learn to use guns? I guess you think they lost the WWII because of that?

    To rest on topic, the fear that these teachers/directors have is just a normal reaction to a society were guns are too present. I don’t know at all, but I’m sure no Japanese kids is suspended in Japan because they pretended to shoot a schoolmate.

    @ Yan Seiner

    Thank you so much for explaining what I think was obvious. You comment literally calmed me.

  61. vas January 4, 2013 at 11:22 am #


    Don’t the schools realize that they may be ruining the future of the nation by instilling wrong ideas into the young?

  62. Warren January 4, 2013 at 11:26 am #

    To all of you. I am not taking a stance one way or the other, on gun control, or assualt rifles, or swords or weapons of any kind.

    What I am saying is that no matter what you do, no matter what controls you put in place, it will not change certain facts.

    1. Random acts, by definition are not predictable, and therefore cannot be prevented.
    2. Humans are part of the animal kingdom, and people seem to forget that. As animals we are born with certain emotions, instincts and urges. Considering the number of people in the world, it is a very low percentage of those that submit to our violent side, and have the complete lack of self control. We are not as bad off as society thinks.
    3. By focusing on gun control, nothing positive will ever come of events such as Sandy Hook. It is being made into a platform for lobbyists, and special interest groups.
    4. And despite all your emotional responses, the assualt rifle did not kill anyone. The deranged individual pulling the trigger killed them all.
    5.If that deranged individual had chosen to run down 30 kids with his mom`s car, while loading the buses, would you be calling for car control. What if he had chained the doors and torched the school, and all the other ways sans guns he could have done what he intended to do.

    People we have to remove our emotions from this all, and concentrate our efforts on the real issue.

    The reall issue being, these things are going to happen no matter what we do. Do we let it rule or lives, or do we live our lives and accept that somethings are just beyond our control. Your choice, I`ve made mine.

  63. vas January 4, 2013 at 11:32 am #


    Your example about Japan is lost on me. I don’t know anything about the attitude to weapons in Japan (before WWII or now).

  64. Warren January 4, 2013 at 11:32 am #

    You are comparing apples to oranges. These kids are not at fifty yards, they are in the close confines of halls, and classrooms.

    This is what happens, people skew the facts with their own.

  65. JJ January 4, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    Back in the days when the comments on this site pertained to free-range kids topics rather than pro-gun (or anti-gun) sentiments, we talked about things such as would you let your kid play unsupervised or walk to school? Why or why not? Since we have now apparently switched topics to gun control, let’s at least explore the relationship of guns to the free-range movement. Or maybe just drop the gun thing altogether. I used to love this site now I just find myself getting so upset. Let’s unite in our exploration and general support of free-range instead of getting into a debate about gun control (and I know I have been an offender). There are other sites for that.

  66. HRu January 4, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

    @Warren and everyone whom he’s inflamed: the zeitgeist – internet, blogs, free-range kids, Sandy Hook, facebook, gun control – has brought us all here, so it’s inevitable that it’s all getting mixed in. At least we’re having a basically – albeit limited – civil discourse instead of shutting down (Congress, ahem). And speaking of the internet, have those of you interested in the gun control issue read Sam Harris’ Riddle of the Gun article/blog? I like the self-defense part, but that is a tricky issue to discuss in this limited way.

    One personal point which has been emphasized and repeated: Sandy Hook was a TRAGEDY. Look up the non-dramatic/Classics definition. This means that there was very little you, me, the police and everyone else could do to prevent it and why we’re left holding the emotional tab.

    I love this blog and check on it regularly. If what’s devolving in the comments section is upsetting, it’s the internet and it’s great, because it’s easy to shut off. Come back later when the information becomes more useful to you, but please DO NOT let it ruin your weekend. On that note, @JJ, I don’t know you, but please know I wish you a great weekend! :)

  67. John January 4, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

    Hope you update this entry … heard on the radio todaythe suspension was removed from his record and everybody involved agrees it was all blown way out of proportion. Victory for free-range outrage!

  68. sherri January 4, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

    @Coccinelle-kids have always been facinated with guns. We played with toy guns when I was a child (in the 70’s), my parents played with toy guns when they were children (in the 40’s). My grandparents played with toy guns (in the early 1900’s). I am not a gun lover, but I am not against imaginary play. And the children I see making guns out of fingers, sticks, Lego’s and sandwiches are not American, they are Canadian.

  69. JJ January 4, 2013 at 6:55 pm #

    @HRu, thanks man (or woman)!

  70. Jenny Islander January 4, 2013 at 10:52 pm #

    @vas: NCLB put schools all over the country into survival mode. You have to keep everybody turning the hamster wheel or lose money that may be the difference between keeping the school open or not. So people tend to overreact when anything gets in the gears. And even if this kid was being a repeated pest, suspending him and writing “threatening to shoot a student” on his academic record is overreacting.

  71. Concerned teacher January 4, 2013 at 11:39 pm #

    I had a student point their finger at me in the form of a gun and when they were questioned (in a way that was non-leading), the response I got was that they were pointing their finger at me because they were frustrated. When questioned further, they said they would not do this to a student because “he is my friend”. There was a definite difference between role playing “Cowboys and Indians” and acting out of frustration. This student was given an in-school suspension as per the schools policy. While a less severe disciplinary action might have also worked, I think that it is important we do not make excuses for students we can tell might be headed down a possible path of acting on their frustrations. What are your thoughts?

  72. Jenny Islander January 4, 2013 at 11:40 pm #

    @vas: To complete my thought: It’s not possible for educators to think about teaching children to be functional members of society when their time is taken up by the requirements of NCLB. A friend of mine brought back terrible stories about the Mountain View, CA school system: overcrowded, underfunded, and struggling to keep its NCLB funding, the school responds to every disruption with drugs. She had to homeschool her daughter because the kid refused to submit to a bully. The bully hadn’t been loud, see, but my friend’s daughter had. So she had to be given drugs for her obvious behavioral issues, or else stay home. Other kids got drugged because they were unable to settle down due to hunger. There wasn’t any way to increase the school lunch program, but there was money for medication for any kid who was acting out. The medication at least made them quiet.

  73. SKL January 5, 2013 at 12:50 am #

    I do recall that I got a very concerned note from my kids’ preschool teacher when they were four, because they had done the finger “bang bang” thing AND were EVEN pointing “it” at their classmates. Bah.

    But now my kids are mature six-year-olds like this boy. And one of them is clearly a psychopath. She had to serve a detention just before Christmas vacation because she took a candy cane off the class Christmas tree. Next offense will be in-school suspension.

    My kid thinks it’s funny to form and carry out a plot to “steal.” Tonight it was her aunty’s utensils at the restaurant – swiping them and sneaking them back. “Aren’t I clever!” It would be funny if I weren’t worried that she was on a path toward expulsion from the 1st grade.

    I wonder if primary school educators actually understand how a six-year-old mind operates. And don’t they realize that even if a 6yo becomes a klepto when surrounded by candy, chances are that she’ll grow out of it? Do they really think this is a precurser to armed robbery?

    Or am I the crazy one? Should I be putting my kid on the waiting list for the youth boot camp of my preference?

  74. SKL January 5, 2013 at 12:58 am #

    Concerned Teacher, you mean you never act on your frustrations? Isn’t the punishment of a child itself often a teacher acting on his/her frustrations?

    Making a hand gesture may be rude, but it isn’t dangerous and doesn’t, by itself, imply anything dangerous. If the child is being disrespectful, shouldn’t you be addressing respect for teachers? And personally I don’t think punishing for non-dangerous, non-obscene hand gestures is the way to build respect for teachers.

  75. Concerned Teacher January 5, 2013 at 1:23 am #

    Thanks for your response. A little more background information may or may not be helpful. This was an 8 year old who has been exposed to violent video games for several years now. I do not feel that my intention was to punish – I was following school protocol after speaking with the guidance councilor. I have witnessed MANY students role playing at recess and have dealt with much less involvement in those instances because it was simply a game. Anyone who spends time around children for any length of time (as maybe you might agree) can tell the difference between acting out of frustration and role play. I feel that role play can be a healthy and normal part of childhood development. However in response to your question about ever acting on my frustrations – Yes I have acted on my frustrations, but there are sometimes consequences for the way I choose to act on them. Part of my job as an educator is to help students recognize when they have inappropriately acted on their frustration. The conversation I have with the child was very calm and done one-on-one in a respectful way. I also talked with this child about more positive ways to let me know when they are frustrated. I agree that the gesture by ITSELF does not imply anything more sinister – however because it was paired with the emotion of frustration more follow-up was necessary.
    Thanks again~

  76. Coccinelle January 5, 2013 at 2:16 pm #


    Yes you can possibly kill 30 kids with a car and you can even kill someone with a pen, but cars and pens are useful. What is the usefulness of an assault rifle is all I ask.

    Can I ask you how do you think I let ‘these things” rule my life? For what I understand, I would let these things rule my life if I would be scared to let my kids go to school or if I would be scared to leave my home at all. I’m not.


    I’m sorry for not explaining much. Basically there is virtually no guns in Japan because normal everyday citizens are not allowed ANY type of gun. It’s also true for other countries such as South Korea but South Korea as the conscription so I didn’t want to compare with them.


    Thanks for your input! I guess I can’t really say anything about what my parents and grand-parents played with because I have no idea! I just know that conscription was a really bad and gloomy thing in my family so I can’t really imagine anyone wanting to be involved with guns for fun.

  77. Warren January 5, 2013 at 11:30 pm #

    Assault rifles are the Covettes of the gun industry. Other than the military and the police, there is no NEED for assault rifles. But they are around, and there are many competitions for assault rife enthusiasts.

    Do we need cars that will do in excess of 200 mph……, but people want them.
    Do we need 60+ inch TVs…………no but people want them.
    Do we need snowmobiles, atvs, speed boats, motorcycles, and on and on……… but we want them.

    Assault weapons have not killed a single human since their invention. It still take a human to load them, aim them and pull the trigger.

    And I never said that anything rules your life. I stated that people need to stop looking at guns as the problem. They are not the problem, people are the problem.

  78. Cindy April 1, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    I think the punishment was a bit too much for this gesture. Also, how can a 6 year old boy really understand what is going here and why the suspension took place. Also, why punish a little boy for this when we grownups are mostly responsible for all the gun madness that has been going on?


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