The Three Airsoft Gun 7th Graders Get “Expelled”

Readers: By now you have heard the story of the three Virginia Beach seventh graders who ffbyderbzy
were suspended for playing with Airsoft guns
on private property — the yard of one of the kids. A 911 call prompted a police investigation which prompted the school to take action. Yesterday, the school’s disciplinary committee voted unanimously to suspend the boys for the rest of the year, though their case will be up for review on Jan. 27. The principal wrote a letter explaining his actions:

In the course of the investigation, conducted in concert with a police officer and the school division Office of Safety and Loss Control, we identified the children who were firing pellet guns at each other and at people near the bus stop. Several students verified that they had been hit by pellets and had the marks to support their claims. In one instance, a child was only 10 feet from the bus stop and ran from the shots being fired but was
still hit. Another student claimed to be shot in the back while running away during a previous incident Wednesday, Sept. 11. This child was also shot in the arm and head during Thursday’s incident. I contacted the school division’s Office of Student Leadership and School Board Legal Counsel for guidance. Because students were on their way to or at a school bus stop when they were struck by pellets, the school division has jurisdiction to take disciplinary actions against those students responsible for the disruption. There is an expectation that all students should be able to travel to and from school in the safest environment possible….

My take? The kids should not be suspended because this is not an issue for the school. It was not on school grounds. When school authorities can reach outside the school building to the bus stops and even beyond, they have over reached. It’s like the time the Pennsylvania school district gave kids laptops whose webcams photographed them in their homes.

However, I can very much understand the concern of the 911 callers (audio of one call here),who saw a realistic looking gun and wanted to make sure no one was in danger. And if the kids were actually “shooting” other kids who didn’t want to be part of their game, they certainly deserve to be disciplined. The question is: By whom?

I’d say their parents.  But if the game truly went beyond  the confines of the yard and kids were getting “shot” against their will, in Virginia Beach or anywhere else, I could even see a cop stopping by to say cut it out. No tickets. No arrests. No paper trail. Just a beat cop saying you kids, go do something else — even shoot the target in your yard.

While this case is one that is making headlines because of the school being so intrusive and harsh, the reality is that those guns look ridiculously realistic. I’d call 911 if I saw a kid trying to hide one, too. It is definitely fine for kids to play on their own property with whatever items their parents allow. But when the items look deadly, it’s not overreach for a neighbor to be concerned. In fact, it’s neighborly. – L.

The smoking (Airsoft Zombie) gun.

The smoking (Airsoft Zombie) gun.


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113 Responses to The Three Airsoft Gun 7th Graders Get “Expelled”

  1. Jennifer September 25, 2013 at 9:27 am #

    My son has a gun like this (for target shooting), and if I caught him shooting it at another person it would be permanently confiscated and he would be in huge trouble. However, the behavior of the kids in this story seems to have almost nothing to do with the school. I worry about how many schools seem to think behavior off of school property and school time is their business.

  2. Tara September 25, 2013 at 9:29 am #

    As usual, I agree with you on all count. These guns DO look real, so calling the police was the responsible thing to do. But this in no way concerns the school and the students should NOT be suspended for something that happened away from school AND on their own property.

  3. Beth September 25, 2013 at 9:29 am #

    ITA completely. Probably shouldn’t be shooting these guns in the front yard to begin with and definitely not at kids that aren’t playing along. But it’s not a crime and the school shouldn’t be involved. We’re takings things that are just not good ideas or just shouldn’t be done and making them crimes. It’s crazy.

  4. Gary September 25, 2013 at 9:35 am #

    The caller stated she KNEW it was not a real gun but that it made her “uncomfortable”

    “The caller also knew the gun wasn’t real and said so: “This is not a real one, but it makes people uncomfortable. I know that it makes me [uncomfortable], as a mom, to see a boy pointing a gun,” she told the 911 dispatcher.”

    Another moron misusing 911, and i am trying to locate it but there was another article stating the caller was the mother of one of the kids outside that was playing at the time, so instead of being a parent she decided to call 911 over a non-issue that she KNEW was a non-issue.

  5. Tracy September 25, 2013 at 9:35 am #

    This is a hard one because it sounds to me like these were kids behaving awful and other kids suffered because of their actions. There is such a fine line of when the school can intervene but personally, I would not like my kids in a class with children that behaved like this so I think I would be happy they were out of the school. The parents would have most likely done nothing- like in the NY vandalism case so since these boys targeted kids at a bus stop- I am leaning more towards they deserved some type of consequence and yes its ok it came from the school. I think an entire year is HARSH. Maybe a few weeks or be made to work at the school in some capacity to set an example.

  6. QuicoT September 25, 2013 at 9:35 am #

    Realistic looking play-guns should be banned out-right. They’re RIDICULOUSLY dangerous. All it takes is one kid pointing one of those things at one jittery cop and…

  7. Michelle September 25, 2013 at 9:38 am #

    Agree! Clear overreach by school. My son once broke a window in a house being built near a school. He, age 12 at the time, thought it would be fun to use mud clots to knock a coke bottle off the windowsill of a home under construction. He hit the open windowpane instead as well as lobbed mud clods onto the floor. He was punished by us, his parents. He had to clean up the mess, apologize and pay for the damage. He lost several months worth of allowance $. But he has never defaced or damaged property again. I’d have been hoppin’ mad if the school had become involved since it wasn’t school property. I agree 100% that realistic looking toy guns cause genuine concern. I would expect responsible adults to have it checked out. But why on earth would the school suspend them? One has nothing to do with the other. Such intrusion is absurd and will only lead to more hassle than necessary for everyone.

  8. Gary September 25, 2013 at 9:42 am #

    I know it briefly mentions it in this article but there was another one that had more…

    “Ironically, that 911 caller’s son was playing with Khalid and Aidan in the Caraballo front yard on September 12 — the incident that got the boys in trouble. There were six children playing in an airsoft gun war.”

    And here is another kicker…

    “WAVY-TV reports that 13-year-old Khalid Caraballo and Aidan Clark will face an additional hearing in January to determine if they will be expelled for “possession, handling and use of a firearm” because the guns were fired at two others playing in Caraballo’s yard.”

    By the way the school makes this sound, any kid can be suspended or expelled for “possession, handling and use of a firearm,” so what if the child’s parent takes them to the range? Or hunting?

    You gonna suspend my kid for handling a firearm during hunting season? yea good luck with that.

  9. Gary September 25, 2013 at 9:43 am #

    “They’re RIDICULOUSLY dangerous.”

    Only your attitude is…

  10. LRH September 25, 2013 at 9:48 am #

    I certainly agree with the premise that the school is overreaching. I say the same thing when they try & poke around with what kids are saying on Facebook. That is none of their business either.

    However, Lenore, I’m sorry, but I must disagree with you for perhaps the 1st time–I don’t want any neighbors calling in on what we are doing on our PRIVATE PROPERTY, I don’t CARE what we’re doing, unless it’s a noise disturbance issue etc it’s not any of their business. I believe this in just about the most absolute sense possible. Maybe if someone was whacking another with a baseball bat & you could see actual blood, okay, but otherwise, butt out.

    Even if those guns do look overly realistic, MY SPACE is just that, MY SPACE. I’m not playing with an overly realistic gun at a crowded shopping center for crying out loud. I’m playing with it (or my kids are) at MY HOME. It’s MY HOME, not the police’s home nor the school’s home, it’s MY HOME. It’s MY SPACE and in MY SPACE (have I stressed MY HOME/SPACE enough?) I should be free to do just about whatever the heck I darn well feel like it. What I do in my space is not any of my neighbor’s business. Period.

    Frankly, someone ought to take that neighbor’s phone and shove it so far up her rear posterior that every-time someone calls her, her nose emits a ringtone. She was BEYOND way out of line. There should be legal accountability for that sort of nosiness.


  11. mystic_eye_cda September 25, 2013 at 9:48 am #

    If you’re jittery then “police officer” isn’t the job for you.

  12. Michelle September 25, 2013 at 9:55 am #

    If the 911 caller knew darn well the guns were TOYS, why then didn’t the caller go tell the parents about the poor behavior of the kids or tell the kids themselves to lay off targeting others who weren’t playing the game? Why call 911 in the first place? We’ve lost our way in parenting and dealing with kids in general. I see kids behaving badly, I generally tell them how they’re behaving badly. Why not say, “Nice shot kids but hey you might want to stop aiming at kids who don’t want to play. Might get you in loads of trouble!” This type of response works almost 100% of the time. “Hey boys! You’re have a great aim with the ball but hitting the other players is cowardly. Come on now, you can do fine without lowlife cheat moves like that.” Reasonable responses that aren’t over the top psychobabble nonsense work best on kids, especially boys, Long winded blather about bullying and choices falls on deaf ears. Stern kindness is quicker, easier and generally more effective,

  13. QuicoT September 25, 2013 at 9:57 am #

    I’m all for brightly colored toy guns, but giving a kid a toy-gun that can easily be mistaken for real is such an obvious #CommonSenseFAIL I’m amazed anyone fails to see it…

  14. brandy September 25, 2013 at 10:02 am #

    I’ve had to call the cops on kids using these type of guns on the playground at the park, but the kids were 3rd and 4 th graders. When the police officer got to the park, and started talking to the kids, the mom came running from her car. Apparently they had shot out a window in the back of their house so she brought them to the park where they’d have more room. The officer looked at her like she was nuts and told her they couldn’t use them at the park. He wrote down her licenses plate #, dl#, and all of their names but said it was for him to follow up but nothing would be filed. He told the kids that if any of the parents whose kids got hit would have wanted to file charges, he would of had to take them to the police station.

    I don’t like guns as toys, especially realistic ones like they had. The officer also said that if the guns were intended to be toys and considered harmless, that they would have a brightly colored tip on the barrel.

    But back to the story, lol, I don’t think this has anything to do with the school. I would have called the police and I would have wanted their parents to know.
    I can’t imagine how scared my little girl would have been if she was there, she has a very clear understanding of what a gun can do as she sport shoots with her dad.

  15. nancey September 25, 2013 at 10:02 am #

    Is this the same country that has “stand your ground” laws; the same country in which the NRA is fighting for your right to own a semi automatic weapon?

    On another note, my 9 year old son was at a friends house, playing with guns. They had already been disciplined for trying to remove the orange tip from the guns so they would look more realistic. That afternoon, my friend confiscated the guns because they were “shooting” at passing cars! Good thing we don’t live in VA. Guns were not returned for a week, and lesson learned.

  16. marie September 25, 2013 at 10:21 am #

    I wasn’t there so maybe it all looked different but a group of boys shooting each other with Airsoft guns looks very very different from a group of boys shooting each other with .38s. Less blood, for one. The game lasts longer, for another.

    Getting cops involved? Bad idea. Cops don’t do much in the way of “help” anymore. They tend to make arrests, which is why I hate the idea of having cops in schools. We are supposed to think that daily exposure to Officer Friendly will make our kids stay out of trouble and be more likely to…what…rat on their friends? What happens instead is that kids are much more likely to be ticketed or arrested for something that schools used to handle much like Michelle handled her son’s window-breaking.

    Get the cops out of the schools.

    I’d posit that over-the-top discipline from schools is more likely to make parents defend their kids instead of punishing them. When kids are expelled for playing games, parents might figure the kids already got more punishment than they deserve…and the kids won’t get the ‘don’t do that again’ message from the parents.

  17. lollipoplover September 25, 2013 at 10:34 am #

    If anyone is to be involved in this, it’s the parents and the neighbors to come up with a strategy to keep these knuckleheaded boys out of juvey. That’s it.

    Kids playing off school grounds is not the concern of schools- they seem to have enough on their hands with just being responsible for them 7 hours of the day.
    Let the parents and the neighbors deal with bad community behavior. I would drive over that airsoft gun with my car so fast it couldn’t even be photgraphed as evidence. This is sheer stupidity on private property.

    “There is an expectation that all students should be able to travel to and from school in the safest environment possible….”

    I agree! But when schools tell parents who complain about unshoveled and unsafe walkways in the winter that it’s not their problem, it’s private property. Or tell parents who ask for crossing guards in heavy traffic neighborhoods it’s not their problem, it’s off school grounds, when something unsafe happens in these same neighborhoods the answer should be easy.
    It’s not their problem.

  18. Gary September 25, 2013 at 10:37 am #

    “the same country in which the NRA is fighting for your right to own a semi automatic weapon? ”

    We already HAVE that right…

    We are trying to prevent it from being taken away.

  19. CrazyCatLady September 25, 2013 at 10:38 am #

    Private property is private property, but when the toys had the potential to leave the property and injure people not involved, then you get a different issue. If kids had marks on them, this was not being safe, and if enough to bruise it is also enough to cause a lot of damage to an eye of a kid not wearing eye protection (which all of them should have if they were going to shoot at each other.

    At my house, NO GUN, other than water squirters that don’t look like guns, are allowed to be pointed at people. That makes for bad habits that carry over when handling real guns.

    No, the school should not be involved. If parents of passing hit kids want to press charges, that is fine. I, as a parent if my kid was hit, would be having a talk with the parents of the kids with the air soft guns. These guns generally are allowed in city limits, and, as a friend of mine can attest can be used (perhaps only when modified) to kill animals. My friend’s husband uses them to get rid of raccoons and such that harass his chickens – in town. As in…kill them dead. Not something to be pointed at people.

  20. JMW September 25, 2013 at 10:41 am #

    My husband has some AirSoft guns. Maybe there are different types, but ours look and feel just like real guns and we treat them like real guns when we handle them. They also pack quite a wallop. When my daughter is old enough to enjoy the sport of target shooting (if she wishes), she will be taught to handle them as if they were real guns. We would absolutely never condone playing with them in this way or shooting people not wearing the appropriate protective gear. Yeah, most of the time they’ll just leave a little welt or bruise on the skin, but it could also cause more serious injuries. Plus, there’s something to be said about keeping a serious attitude about handling something that even just looks like a serious thing (real firearm). If kids are casual about AirSoft guns because they know that it probably won’t hurt them much, how will they act when they encounter a real firearm? Anyway, I think these kids deserve some punishment, though I have mixed feelings about the school’s involvement. Expulsion for the rest of the year is really excessive. Ideally, the punishment should come from the parents, but they don’t seem to be taking responsibility.

  21. Gary September 25, 2013 at 10:41 am #

    “I’m all for brightly colored toy guns, but giving a kid a toy-gun that can easily be mistaken for real is such an obvious #CommonSenseFAIL I’m amazed anyone fails to see it…”

    What’s with the hashtag? is it somehow cool now to do that on social media other than where it originated?

    The only one who is failing at common sense seems to be you, it has already been pointed out that the MOTHER who made the initial call KNEW the gun was fake, and instead of acting like a parent she decided to call 911 and burden them with this instead of disciplining her own child and perhaps even taking the unique and novel route of speaking to the parent of the other children who were involved.

  22. J.T. Wenting September 25, 2013 at 10:41 am #

    “Realistic looking play-guns should be banned out-right. They’re RIDICULOUSLY dangerous. All it takes is one kid pointing one of those things at one jittery cop and…”

    I know a far better solution: ban cops that can’t tell the difference between a toy and a real weapon (guess what, toy guns are deliberately made different from real ones in size, shape, and often colour in order to fit in a child’s hand and appeal to their tastes, as well as to be recognisable as such).

  23. Nicole September 25, 2013 at 10:48 am #

    If they were firing at the children at the bus stop, then I believe the school has every right to intervene and suspend them. Otherwise I’d agree with you. I do think suspending them for this length of time is unjustified- I think something like a week or two of in school suspension would be more appropriate. But I tend to think that with most cases where a student is suspended or expelled.

    I don’t like how parents where I live treat airsoft guns as toys, along the lines of a nerf gun or super soaker, and allow their children to run around with them. The pellets can easily cause serious injuries to the eyes, and minor injuries to any exposed skin. Plus they can cause some property damage and are easily mistaken for a real gun.

    These are the sort of things that you should use to shoot cans in the back yard or some other context, not run around and play cops and robbers with.

  24. Laura September 25, 2013 at 10:57 am #

    Well, I’m torn. The suspention was too exterme. But, when kids are waiting at the bus stop I can understand that the district is responsible. They are legally responsible for providing a safe place for the children to wait. And, to take the bus you have to agree to certain behaviors, which I’m sure account for not harassing other students in any way.
    We’re the shooters waiting to take the bus? Meanin they could have potentially also taken the guns to school?
    Here in my town, a couple of years ago two young teenage boys got in a fight at the schoolbus stop and were suspended from school for a short time.

    I think the kids with these guns should have been disciplined, maybe just not allowed to take the bus, but not suspended for the rest of the year.

  25. lollipoplover September 25, 2013 at 10:59 am #

    Off topic, but did anybody see the commercial for the new GIRLS line by Nerf?
    Katniss has gone glam.

    My daughter though it shot lipsticks but no…
    I can just see the 911 call- “Help! My daughter was almost shot by a lipstick. know it’s a toy but this is WRONG!”

  26. Eileen September 25, 2013 at 10:59 am #

    Nicole sums it up perfectly imo. We don’t (and never will) know the back story enough to adequately judge beyond that. Maybe the parent who called 911 had already dealt with this issue with the kids/parents. Who knows.

  27. Michelle September 25, 2013 at 11:00 am #

    Excellent point made by Marie. So true about overreaction by schools or any other entity causes parents to take up for the kids. It muddies the issue at hand by taking focus off the real problem. The kid remembers his parents anger all right but it might be anger directed at the school or other adults, not at the kid’s behavior. Our daughter came home complaining about two boys (neighbors) calling her names on the bus. One boy hit her arm. It left a bruise. Big brother started to get worked up & offered to beat the boys up. I saw the dad in the yard a few minutes later and explained I didn’t want a neighborhood brawl over something done by silly 14 year old boys. Having 3 boys myself, I explained I wasn’t really mad as much as we just wanted them not to hurt her. The boys apologized within one hour and have been kind ever since. Both parents thanked me for not calling the school but also explained to their boys we could have. It could have been ugly. But honestly, there was no need for it to get out of control. Yes, she had a bruise but it wasn’t life threatening and 14 year old boys are exactly that, 14 year old boys. These boys are now protective toward our daughter and very kind to the point of saving her a seat on the bus. We are far too quick with over the top psychobabble reactions to what is basically more often than not, NORMAL kid behavior.

  28. Mike in Virginia September 25, 2013 at 11:01 am #

    @Tara, the neighbor was NOT right to call 911. She said in the phone call that she knew the gun was fake and yet she still felt uncomfortable. One does not call 911 about known fake guns. So why did she “feel uncomfortable” and call the authorities instead of walking over there and talking to the children/parents herself (as any reasonable person would do)? I suspect the fact that the boy in question was black, in a predominately white neighborhood (as evidenced in the local news video where they interviewed those involved) had something to do with that. Even if this particular incident was not driven by race, the fact is that zero tolerance policies do disproportionately affect minorities. Here is one of many sources on that subject.

  29. Joel Dockery September 25, 2013 at 11:07 am #

    When I see this kind of nonsense in my neighborhood I handle it. Calling 911 is where the overreach started.

  30. LRH September 25, 2013 at 11:13 am #

    Many keep pointing (pardon the pun) to that the toy guns looked real. I keep coming back to this–they were on PRIVATE PROPERTY. Moreover the neighbor admitted to KNOWING they were toy guns. Okay then, you KNOW they are TOY guns, what in the WORLD are you bothering 911 about then?

    To discipline the boys for harassing other kids near a bus stop, okay, but again, that should be the PARENTS, the schools have no authority there. The neighbor should’ve left the 911 phone call alone and, if anything, just yelled out “hey, you boys play in your yard all you want, but leave the other kids alone.” That’s all that’s needed (and such also requires that the parents not yell back “don’t tell my kids what to do” as they tend to do now). Mainly, though, this–treat this as boys being maybe a bit too rowdy, not as another Sandy Hook in the making.

    I also agree with the person criticizing the presence of cops in the schools everywhere. In fact, really, what is it with cops being EVERYWHERE anymore? One church even has cops around for when they’re carrying the money from the church to the treasury. Really? What next, cops in the bathroom where I go to urinate? What’s with people wanting cops EVERYWHERE?


  31. Sarah in WA September 25, 2013 at 11:20 am #

    Once again, schools cannot win.

    My neighbor was outraged when she claimed her son was being bullied by another kid in the neighborhood as the kids were walking home from school, and the school wouldn’t do anything about it. The incidents happened off of school property. Granted, she’s crazy, IMO, but it’s reality that parents will complain about literally anything.

    If the school had done nothing in this case, there would have loud complaints from the other side as well. It is truly impossible to make everyone happy.

    And yes, ultimately the parents should have been responsible. But were they? Allowing their kids to shoot each other, and non-participating bystanders with Airsoft guns doesn’t show the best judgment to me. They are not toys. And they do look very realistic. It would be a better idea to let them target practice with them, provided the targets weren’t other people!

    So, the school overreaches because no one else will do anything, which starts this whole mess. It’s sad. People need to take responsibility for themselves and their kids, and exercise some common sense. End of story.

  32. Donna September 25, 2013 at 11:27 am #

    So much of this depends on where and when all this is occurring. Some seem to have missed the part where many of the kids being shot are not part of the game. If kids are getting into shooting matches immediately after school at the bus stop itself and hitting innocent bystanders, I do think the school has a right to be involved. I would be livid as a parent if I sent my kid to catch the bus and she came home having been shot by pellets from other students while waiting for/exiting the bus. And I would expect the school to do something about it since, after all, it insists that she stand there for the bus. I don’t think a year-long suspension is the appropriate punishment, but I would want the school to step in and take some control over what is happening at its bus stops.

    I also think the school has a right to be involved if these kids are specifically targeting unwilling classmates coming to and fro the bus stop. Again, the punishment is way off-kilter but I expect my child not to be bullied at fake gunpoint at the bus stop.

    As for calling the cops, damn right I’d call the cops if my child was being shot with pellets at the bus stop and I either didn’t know who was doing it or had already talked to the parents. I can see where a bystander who saw unwilling kids being shot with pellets would call the cops. This isn’t a nerf gun. This is an airsoft pellet gun with pellets that hurt like hell and leave marks.

  33. vjhr September 25, 2013 at 11:29 am #

    As an aside…did a previous poster really insert a hashtag right into the middle of a sentence? Can we not have any area of communication where these stupid things are absent?

  34. Gary September 25, 2013 at 11:33 am #

    “s an aside…did a previous poster really insert a hashtag right into the middle of a sentence? Can we not have any area of communication where these stupid things are absent?”

    I would have to say #apparentlynot


  35. anonymous this time September 25, 2013 at 11:40 am #

    Normal kid behaviour, yes. Kids love to know they have an impact on the people and things around them.

    Airsoft guns were never meant for kids. They’ve been marketed to kids now, but the whole idea came from a country in Asia where private ownership of real guns is totally illegal. In highly controlled circumstances and designated grounds, adults used extremely realistic-lloking handguns that fire plastic pellets at each other. Eye protection is a given. It was contrived as a way to act out what these folks were seeing on TV shows produced in the US. Fetishized violence: now you can act it out in 3-D without actually killing anyone!

    And yes, some adults would likely misuse these “replica” weapons (I would not go so far as to call them “toys,” any more than I’d call a full-sized sex doll a “toy” for children).

    Like so many things these days, many parents have relented and allow their kids to have things that were not designed for kids, just because “everyone is playing with them.” The manufacturers who distribute in the US have come up with many different versions of these guns, some that have more realism than others. The realistic ones are easily modified to look so real that seasoned police officers cannot distinguish airsoft from firearms. In Canada, these guns are regulated to be sold only to those 18 and over, but this is not always enforced.

    I kids at a bus stop are firing anything that can leave a bruise or cause eye damage, that’s so far out of line with what I’d call safe, I’m not sure if I’d intervene myself or call the cops. Although no one’s life was threatened, this is still behaviour that can cause serious injury, not simply annoyance, like a nerf gun. I guess it would depend on how effective I believed myself to be in stopping what was in process. I do think “calling the cops” is another way to hand down punishment, instead of encouraging people to see how their behaviour is affecting other people.

    Is it for the school to decide how to handle these kids? I think if I ran that school, I would call in the kids, the parents, and the students who were being shot at and have some kind of restorative justice circle. Let everyone collaborate to decide the course of action. This puts access to power on an equal basis, and usually “offenders” come away far more clear about how their actions impact others than when they are “punished” by the “authorities.”

    But I guess I do see the school having a role: as mediators. That would be true teaching, true education, helping to guide the next generation to take a role in their lives and in the world that is a constructive one. Handing down “sentences” is not very productive, and yes, it could be argued that they overreached their boundaries. But would anyone object to a restorative circle on school grounds, for learning purposes? I think not.

    The trouble comes when we have reactions to things instead of responses. I would definitely respond to a situation like this. I am not at all a fan of airsoft guns and encouraging anyone, adult or child, to fire pellets at each other without a highly controlled set of rules and adequate skin and eye protection. Many gun proponents hate airsoft simply because it blurs the lines between firearm and toy. No one would encourage kids to fire BB guns at each other, and airsoft is closer to a BB gun than many realize, yet there is this idea that a “toy” can’t hurt you.

  36. Donna September 25, 2013 at 11:52 am #

    “Okay then, you KNOW they are TOY guns, what in the WORLD are you bothering 911 about then?”

    Because you actually do have a right to not be chased and shot at by pellet guns against your will. She said in her second sentence that it really looked like the boy without a gun was not playing. If I come across a scene out of the blue where one kid is aiming a pellet gun at another obviously unwilling kid, I might call the police too to protect the unwilling kid from being harassed. Sure, the better course of action is to stop everyone and talk to the parents but this woman didn’t know these kids or their parents. She just stumbled into the incident.

  37. Christina September 25, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

    Whatever happened to marching over to a group of kids and telling them to knock it off? I did that just this past weekend when two 8-ish years old kids joined in with some 5 and 6 years old kids playing in the park and tried to turn it into junior MMA. When the biggest kid kicked one of the little ones in the head, I had no problem taking myself over there and explaining what was and was not ok around smaller kids. He didn’t like it, but he stopped the beat down.

  38. anonymous this time September 25, 2013 at 12:13 pm #

    I also notice that in too many cases, the airsoft guns are purchased by the parents for the kids, and in the best case scenario, the agreement the parents make with the kids is that the guns will only be used in certain ways, under certain circumstances, with certain safety assurances, and often, only with the parents supervising.

    Somewhat predictably, boys in the 8 to 14-year-old age range DON’T ALWAYS FOLLOW THE AGREEMENTS, especially when it’s a group of boys. Something about not realizing the consequences of their actions, maybe?

    So the boys use these things the way they want to use them, not the way the parents want them to be used. And then when this happens, the parents say, “It will never happen again.” Well, I’d only believe that if I knew the guns were going away forever, or the guns were going to be locked up with only the parent having access to the key.

    Throwing airsoft into the soup of emerging male adolescence without supervising and ensuring safety creates a public nuisance. And so many parents are doing just that.

  39. Red September 25, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

    “Because you actually do have a right to not be chased and shot at by pellet guns against your will.”

    This, exactly.

    If I saw kids using what are supposed to be toys to hurt or harass other kids, or kids chucking rocks at other kids, I’d probably call the cops in my neighborhood too. The kids may have been on private property, but the actions they were taking had results extending off that private property.

    That’s what parents whose attitudes are that their kids are special snowflakes have convinced me is the best course of action. There’s enough of them, that I’d prefer someone with legal authority be witness to what was going on, and deal with it.

  40. Michelle September 25, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

    I stand by my ‘normal kid behavior’ remark in the context it was made. Granted, air soft pellets can be dangerous and that situation, deemed a response, I question the overreaction of calling 911. I disagree entirely with involving the school as the school authorities tend to overreact with psychobabble or suspensions. Air soft guns should never be used carelessly or as toys in an unsafe manner. But that is another issue. Did the 911 caller even attempt talking to the parents? As a mom of 5 (3 boys) we have had our share of boy related nonsense. One neighbor called the police when our kids and others in the neighborhood made NORMAL KID NOISE while playing outside. It wasn’t offensive nor did it go beyond dark but they called the police for a game of kickball that they didn’t want to hear. Why not talk to us first? Waste police time on such silliness? Yes it can be uncomfortable but still worth a try rather than waste time & energy of police force and school officials who can barely manage kids during the time they’re on school grounds.

  41. Nicole September 25, 2013 at 12:35 pm #

    I don’t feel like I know enough to make a call in this case, but to say a school should never be involved in an incident outside of school I think it wrong. It reminds me of zero tolerance and should instead be a case by case basis. Not everyone agrees, and I try to be pretty free range, but there has been some incidents of pretty serious online targeted harassment of kids from other kids. Some schools said they could not get involved, while others schools, after enough serious cases, took steps within the community (along with parents) to be take some actions. A school is still part of the community, and while it may have overreacted in this case, I don’t blame the school officials for trying to protect kids on their way to school.

  42. Katie September 25, 2013 at 12:41 pm #

    It’s amazes me that this is what the cops are worried about. Forget that their are lots of helicopter parents speeding around their 2 kids in SUVs actually murdering innocent people with their reckless selfishness.

  43. K September 25, 2013 at 12:41 pm #

    Where I live, school bus stops are NOT school property and the school has no right to do anything. When my brother was in high school, he used to frequently miss the bus and have to walk three miles home. On several occasions, he was jumped and robbed by a gang of boys, but because the robbery took place thirty feet over the end of school property, they insisted there was nothing they could do.

    I’ve also heard people say this about bus stops. When students are being harassed or assaulted at bus stops and the school says its not their territory.

    I’m curious how it is in other states? And how this school can hand down such a punishment for something that didnt happen at school?

  44. Gary September 25, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

    “It’s amazes me that this is what the cops are worried about. Forget that their are lots of helicopter parents speeding around their 2 kids in SUVs actually murdering innocent people with their reckless selfishness.”

  45. Papilio September 25, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

    Pfooh, there’s a lot going on here…
    First, about the 911 callers: Lenore made a mistake here – according to the article there were 2 callers, one did see the guns weren’t real (the one that Gary wants to put the phone on a certain place), the other didn’t (which is what the cops responded to). No plural.
    I’m with Gary and other people who think people shouldn’t call 911 for every little thingy and should pay at least part of the costs when they do call. Calling 911 (112, here) should be for real emergencies.

    I don’t quite understand why anyone, much less Lenore, would assume 13yo boys would shoot each other with real guns in the front yard and street for everyone to see (and call 911). It seems contradictory to telling parents their kids are smarter than society gives them credit for and to someone who acts out entire episodes to show what it would take to steal a baby from Costco’s. Maybe thirteen -year-olds are both more evil and stupid than I gave them credit for.

    I’m a bit of two minds about whether the school should be involved. If this was just ~6 kids playing with each other in the front yard of one of them, then no. If the kids also bothered other kids who weren’t part of the game but that do go to the same school (and they know each other through school, and these boys bother the other kids there too), school could play a mediating role.
    Suspending them the rest of the year is ridiculous either way.

  46. Papilio September 25, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

    Oh, and the guns – real LOOKING guns are illegal here, just like real ones. Guess cops only want serious calls…

  47. squishymama September 25, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

    lollipoplover, my almost 8 yo daughter begged for one of those nerf bows the very minute she saw it in Target. I had been wanting to get her something ever since we saw Brave, but everything out there was either lame or dangerous, so I had no hesitation about getting it for her. She LOVES it and has started target shooting in the playroom, getting better so she can join the nerf wars the boys in our building sometimes have in the summer.

    I hope she kicks their butts.

  48. Donna September 25, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

    “I don’t quite understand why anyone, much less Lenore, would assume 13yo boys would shoot each other with real guns in the front yard and street for everyone to see”

    Depends greatly on the neighborhood in the US. Would it happen in mine? Unlikely. Would it happen in some around my inner city? Absolutely. I don’t know this area so I don’t know how reasonable this is.

    “Did the 911 caller even attempt talking to the parents?”

    The 911 caller I heard didn’t even know the kids; she just stumbled onto the scene while walking down the street. Now we have to either (a) stay out of it completely and let the one kid shoot the unwilling participant or (b) spend all our free time tracking kids and parents we don’t know to talk to them (and hope that they aren’t going to go crazy on us when confronted about their kid’s behavior)?

    Personally, I think that it is the police’s job to track down unidentified children and confront their parents about their behavior, not some random passerby on the street. THAT is what police are for. If the police are arresting too many kids when simply addressing the situation with the parents is sufficient, that is a problem with the police not the people who report the problem. Requiring passersby who see a kid unwillingly attacked with a pellet gun to either let the kid get shot or play Charlie’s Angels for the next week tracking the family down is not an adequate answer to the problem.

  49. Captain America September 25, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

    I’m “uncomfortable” at all these people walking around with bizarre tattoos everywhere wearing only pajama bottoms. Let’s haul THEM in!

    . . . yeah, here the school went overboard.

  50. James September 25, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

    I agree that the punishment is too harsh, but I disagree that it’s not the school’s business when something happens at the bus stop. It sounds like the kids’ excuse is that they were shooting FROM their own property, but it sounds like they were hitting kids at the bus stop, 70 yards away. And kids deserve a safe environment at the bus stop.

    I’d put shooting someone with an airsoft pistol in roughly the same category as shoving them. I don’t think there’s any question that a school would have the right to discipline a student for shoving another student at the bus stop. (And I’d consider 10 feet from the bus stop to be “at the bus stop” for every bus stop I’ve ever used.) If the students were using higher powered airsoft rifles (which seems possible, if they were able to shoot at people 70 yards away), or were shooting at people’s heads, it could actually be dangerous.

    There are a million possible shades of gray here, and we’re just assuming that the school district is in the wrong. But the real story could be anywhere from “kids were playing a game with each other” to “kids were systematically bullying other kids in a physically dangerous way.” I’m sure the school knows more than we do.

    It’s important to remember that discipline is not the enemy of they free-range kid. Being free range is possible because the world is generally safe an non-threatening. But some people ARE threatening. Some kids WILL bully other kids. And it’s important to crack down on the bullies when they behave like little terrors.

  51. lollipoplover September 25, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

    Gary, of course it’s a conspiracy. From Pirates and Krispy Kreme to Airsoft guns, Katie can find a way to insert SUV driving as the source of society’s demise. It’s a gift.
    *I secretly believe Katie has buyer’s remorse for buying a Prius and feeling like she’s driving a clown car on the Beltway.

    @Squishymama- I agree that archery is cool and good for your girl who loves this toy. I guess my main issue was having to bedazzle a crossbow to make it appealing to girls (and the bullets DO look like lipsticks!). KInd of like a Barbie fishing rod (which we own and my son uses quite a bit in shallow water). I guess I just loathe seeing girl and boy toy designations vs. unisex toys.

  52. Andrew September 25, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

    Virgina,Florida was my first guess in a story like that. Anyway, being expelled is the best thing that could have happened. Send them to private school, or home school them. Then they’ll get a decent education.

  53. Donna September 25, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    “I’m “uncomfortable” at all these people walking around with bizarre tattoos everywhere wearing only pajama bottoms. Let’s haul THEM in!”

    The difference between tattoos and pajama bottoms and airsoft rifles is that there is absolutely no way that tattoos and pajamas can hurt bystanders.

    I have no desire to be hit with an airsoft gun pellet while walking down the street, standing at the bus stop or hanging out in my yard. It will definitely make me uncomfortable if kids are shooting them where any of those things are reasonably possible. It will also make me uncomfortable if they are shooting at kids who don’t want to be shot.

    I definitely think some of you need to get shot with these things a few times because you seem to think they are like water guns. Getting hit stings, leaves bruises and can break the skin. Not life threatening but not exactly pleasant if you don’t want to be a party to the gun battle.

  54. Abby September 25, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

    I am a big believer in letting kids play with toy guns or make-believe guns, but I absolutely think that toy guns should look unmistakably like toys. There are too many parents who do not lock up guns properly, and all children need to be taught the difference between real and pretend. The gun pictured here did give me the chills. I may have called the authorities if I saw children “shooting” that thing.

  55. marie September 25, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

    I’m sure the school knows more than we do.

    Haha…I’m sure the school thinks they know more than we do.

  56. Michelle September 25, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

    I agree that this was not the school’s jurisdiction at all. The kids were not at school, they were not on the bus, and they weren’t even at the bus stop. What they do at home should not be the school’s business.

    I also agree that the person who called 911 was a total twit, not only because she apparently did so for no other reason than “toy guns make me uncomfortable,” but also because 911 is not “the phone number for the police.” 911 is for EMERGENCIES. Even if you have a legitimate reason to call the police, if it is clearly not an emergency you should NOT call 911.

    However, I also disagree with LRH saying that what happens on his private property is absolutely never the neighbor’s business. Let’s take out the whole “gun” aspect, since that apparently causes people to lose their reason, and say the boys were throwing rocks. If your kid is standing in your yard, playing with MY kid, and throwing rocks at MY kid, then it is MY business. And if your kid is standing in your yard throwing rocks at other people as they pass by (as apparently these kids were shooting at other kids, and possibly adults, who were not in their yard and not playing the game), then the community at large has a right to complain. You can’t stand in your yard and throw rocks at my kid in the street and claim that it’s ok because you were on your own private property.

    I also think it MIGHT be justified to have called the police. As a general practice, telling the kids to knock it off or speaking to the parents is a better option. And, I kind of doubt that this particular woman even really considered doing anything other than call 911, just because she sounds kind of cowardly to me. But, in the first place, these kids’ parents weren’t home. Maybe she knew that. And, in the second place, it’s possible that the caller had had bad experiences with these kids or their parents, and knew that talking to them would accomplish nothing. I have a neighbor like that, who has (in the past) actively encouraged her daughter to beat up my daughter, and has been nothing but verbally abusive towards me. She had her husband are currently under investigation for child abuse, so I would much rather let the cops handle it. (But I still would not call 911 if it wasn’t an EMERGENCY!) So maybe, just maybe, there was a reason she called the cops.

    Also, I empathize with those parents who said they would want someone to do something if their child was being bullied on the way to or from school. I just disagree that “someone” should be the school. It’s not the school’s job to police the neighborhood. Shockingly, that’s the POLICE DEPARTMENT’S job (assuming that dealing directly with the offender and the offender’s parents hasn’t helped).

  57. Warren September 25, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

    Donna get off your high horse. Stones sting, sticks sting, crab apples sting. And yes pellets sting.

    But calling 911? Really? Get off your fat butt, march over and put a stop to it. Remember, you are the adult. Calling 911 instead of looking for a parent? So now the police are there to handle something for you as a matter of convenience, so you do not have to take time to do something.

    We had crab apple wars, slingshot wars, and the like. When they got out of hand the nearest adult barked at us and reigned us in. End of story. Maybe forced to apologize to the innocent bystander, as well. But calling the cops? Absolutely insane. Next you will be calling the cops to lay charges because some kid is too rough playing tag.

    I hope the school is challenged in court for this blatant over reach of their authority.

  58. Buffy September 25, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

    I too am a little unclear on the “school district owns the bus stop” theory. Around here, the bus stops are on a corner, in the front of someone’s house, or at the end of a driveway. Public, and possibly private, property all. Not school district property, and I fail to see how they become responsible for enforcing any type of rules or laws on a patch of grass or blacktop that really did not change ownership because someone decided the bus stop should be there.

  59. Warren September 25, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

    Oh and on the toy gun looking like a toy issue…….get real. Kids want replicas not fantasy. They want to pretend they are whatever, and they want the realistic looking prop.

    For those of you that cannot tell the difference, a real 9mm puts out a muzzle flash, and is one helluvalot louder than an airsoft gun. Oh and when someone is actually shot with a 9mm round……..they usually go down and bleed. Not shot OW and rub their arm.

  60. hineata September 25, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

    I do find the idea of the guns being on private property seemingly being important an interesting one. If I sat outside my front door with a gun, real or otherwise, and proceeded to shoot passersby with it, then I would expect to get a prompt visit from the authorities. So what if the gun is on private property? The projectiles certainly aren’t, and weren’t in this ‘airsoft’ case.

    As to the school getting involved – the bus stops where school kids of all ages wait in our city are public ones. That would not prevent the various schools getting involved if some of their students were getting shot at by others of their students. There would also be interschool communication if students involved were from different schools.

    If I saw kids doing something like this, and I knew the kids, I would pull over and give them what for. If I didn’t know said kids, I would certainly call the police. Ever seen kids in a panic at a bus stop? Not safe. And the police would certainly involve the school.

    What happened to different sectors of the community working together? That’s expected here.

    Yes, a year’s suspension is ridiculous. I wonder if the kids involved are repeat PITAs, and this is a convenient way for the school to rid themselves of them. Still wrong. But IMO it was appropriate for the school to involve itself.

  61. SKL September 25, 2013 at 4:44 pm #

    I agree, this was not the school’s business. The school should have called the cops if they thought an actual crime occurred.

    Even if it were the school’s business, shame on them for calling a toy gun a “firearm.” Do we need to define “firearm” for schools now? Or are they insensitive to the fact that what they put in a child’s file – and time spent serving suspensions – matters to these people in the long run? Stupid people.

    Even if a real crime was committed, I am not comfortable with the schools handling it instead of getting cops involved. I have heard of this happening with kids bringing burglary loot to school etc. That robs the community of the chance for redress.

    Some school officials need to get off their power trips.

  62. Dave September 25, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

    I am not understanding the outrage here. Kids who shoot pellet guns at people should be kicked out of school until the parents take responsibility and the behavior stops. It’s not about the school “overreaching,” it’s about protecting the other kids and the community in general. If these kids had been throwing rocks at cars, same result.

  63. pentamom September 25, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

    “KInd of like a Barbie fishing rod (which we own and my son uses quite a bit in shallow water).”

    That seems the ideal place to use a Barbie fishing rod. 😉

    But seriously, I feel your pain. My kids wanted to learn tennis which my husband used to play well enough to be on his HS team, but knowing the likelihood of their keeping up with it, we weren’t about to invest in expensive equipment or lessons. So hubby came across some rackets in good condition at Salvation Army. Thing was, the one sized appropriately for my son was pink. Now I don’t think using a pink racket would kill him but he does. So why do they have to make tennis rackets pink in the first place? Making toys that are more likely to be played with by girls in “girlish” colors or styles makes a certain amount of sense; making unisex toys “girly” is just silly. I guess it’s because there’s a market for it, but frankly I think the parents who constitute the market for it are rather silly, too. Just tell your daughter, “It’s a tennis racket. It doesn’t matter what color it is.”

  64. pentamom September 25, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

    “I am not understanding the outrage here. Kids who shoot pellet guns at people should be kicked out of school until the parents take responsibility and the behavior stops. It’s not about the school “overreaching,” it’s about protecting the other kids and the community in general. If these kids had been throwing rocks at cars, same result.”

    School is not the universal truth, justice, and morality purveyor of the under-18 segment of society. It exists to educate children. If the behavior of the children does not directly impinge on the school’s mission by not directly interfering with that education, it is none of their business. If children are actually endangering other children, that should be dealt with. But it should be dealt with by the authorities charged to keep order in society, not by the people charged with education during the hours the kids are in their care.

  65. Donna September 25, 2013 at 5:57 pm #


    Why should I run the highly likely risk, at least in the US today, that mommy and daddy are going to jump all over me for daring to speak to little Snowflake negatively? And why do I have to go into the line of fire to try to stop them? Really, I guess that I simply fail to see why I should care if a kid who is intentionally shooting unwilling participants with a pellet gun ends up getting in trouble with the police.

    And the fact is that I did say that talking to the parents is the better course of action. I’m just not going to spend any time trying to identify an unknown kid, find his address and track down the parents. Keeping their little piss-ant out of juvenile court is just not worth that much effort to me.

    Further, I have no problem with calling 911 based on what this woman reported – one kid chasing and shooting at another kid who was not a participant in the game – even if it is just a pellet gun. You can certainly choose to involve yourself in a game in which you are shot with pellets (crab apples, rocks or whatever), but you don’t have to willingly subject yourself to that by simply walking down the street.

  66. Warren September 25, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

    Well Donna,
    Then you are part of the problem, not the solution.

    Even a well educated, confident woman such as yourself would rather call the police, waste their time, over something that could be solved by a simple intervention.

    Community involvement isn’t only helping clean up the parks.

    I do not know what the kids in the states are like, but they seem to be complete barbarians compared to the ones here in Ontario. For the most part here an adult barking at them to knock it off, or take it somewhere else usually does the trick.

    But you go ahead and let the schools and law enforcement deal with these issues. We wouldn’t want to inconvenience you.

  67. lollipoplover September 25, 2013 at 6:20 pm #

    Insert the word “snowballs” for Airsoft guns in this story and there wouldn’t be any involvement of the school.
    Add the word “gun” and everyone knows what’s best to save the children and end school violence.
    Because expelling 12 year-olds is such a great solution…

    Don’t you need to be over age 18 to buy an Airsoft gun?
    Who bought the guns for these hooligans?
    I think you will find the answer to this problem in that answer.

  68. Donna September 25, 2013 at 6:23 pm #

    Buffy, I don’t think anyone is saying that the school owns the bus stop. I do think that, if the school is making children go to a specific place in order to ride the bus, that the school should address a known problem BETWEEN STUDENTS at that bus stop. That is key to me. Basically, as best that I can tell from what is reported, one group of students is getting off the bus (or getting home some quicker way)and then intentionally shooting their classmates as they depart the bus stop area. It is all happening very contemporaneously with everyone leaving school. I can see where the school is inserting themselves into this particular situation.

    I would side with Lenore if the kids were suspended from school for doing something completely unrelated to school. Say, if the exact same kids were getting into toy gun fights at the exact same place on Saturdays or well after school time. But this situation seems to be one where the shooters are specifically targeting classmates as they leave the bus stop and I do think the school has to step in. They shouldn’t expel the kids, but they need to do something.

  69. K September 25, 2013 at 7:17 pm #

    Warren, one of my neighbors hollered at kids playing football in the street and bouncing the ball off people’s cars and houses. Told them to go to the park.

    A few minutes later, one of those kids, a 13 year old, threw a brick through her front window and nearly hit her toddler.

    Maybe kids where you live will listen when an adult tells them to knock it off. Mine would. But not all kids would, and some, despite being kids, are downright scary.

  70. anonymous this time September 25, 2013 at 8:43 pm #

    Wow, K, that is a harrowing account. Whoo-whee.

    I guess that’s what I mean about gaging whether or not I am going to be effective in halting the activity; if it’s a case where a city ordinance or bylaw is being violated, isn’t that what law enforcement addresses? Maybe not 9-1-1 emergency, but some kind of support?

    All in all, though, it strikes me as tragic that the boys themselves were not brought in to hear from others how their actions had an impact, and be part of the decision-making process about next steps or reparations. I doubt whether anyone involved, outside the school, would have advocated for a semester’s expulsion.

  71. Puzzled September 25, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

    You know, it’s assault to hit people (as a general matter.) Why not to shoot them with a bb gun? That’s aside from my general distaste for Airsoft. But a child who hits another one won’t be kicked out of school, so I don’t see why these should be. The problem is, I’m not sure who should handle it. The police seems too much – 12 year olds don’t need to be put in jail for assault when they are just going too far with a game. The parents – but who bought the things in the first place? Maybe there’s no good answer – that’s life.

    Things could have been worse. Just think what the school would have done to those kids if they were throwing pop-tarts.

  72. Donna September 25, 2013 at 9:08 pm #

    Anonymous – This isn’t a matter of a city violation. This – to the extent that they are shooting kids who don’t want to be shot – is at best a misdemeanor and at worst a felony. In my state it would be aggravated assault.

    I don’t necessarily think these kids need to be charged (mostly because juvie court is largely meaningless) but none of you would be saying “boys will be boys” if adults were shooting people waiting at a bus stop with an air soft gun so I’m not sure why it is no big deal that kids are doing it.

  73. edie September 25, 2013 at 10:54 pm #

    The parents and kids were on Piers Morgan. The kids admitted they were being “naughty,” but if I recall, the parents said no one word about their kids’ behavior, just that the school was usurping their parental duty. I think if they were responsible parents, the school would have not had to step in. The parents said that it was a fun game. Geeesh.

  74. Mark Swan September 26, 2013 at 8:52 am #

    I usually agree with you, but these are not Nerf guns. I don’t think it is about the image of the gun, it’s about the harm actually be done to other children. I believe pellet guns are use for squirrel hunting. As a parent I would press criminal charges. I wouldn’t want jail time, but going through the motions seems appropriate. Keeping a record of this incident is absolutely appropriate and could be expunged at 18 without ruining the rest of this child’s life.

    As for the school, they were too quick to expel. Maybe there is a bullying component of this we haven’t heard about. If not, suspension while the police investigated should have been enough. Let the justice system handle them in this case.

  75. pentamom September 26, 2013 at 8:53 am #

    I can agree that the school plays a role here, since the kids involved were on their way to the bus stop and should be allowed to do that without being bullied (if that is what was happening, which I’m still not convinced of.)

    So maybe the school should have contacted the parents and informed them that such behavior would not be tolerated, and further measures would be taken if it was not stopped. What if this was happening nowhere near school or the bus stop? What if the kids with the guns were homeschooled? Would we somehow be helpless to address it in ANY way? If the answer is not no, then clearly there are other ways to deal with it without making the presence of a bus stop in your neighborhood an excuse for the school to take jurisdiction over everything that happens there between 7 and 4.

    Suspension is a school-based punishment for school-based infractions, and what people do in their own front yards is NOT a school-based infraction even if it happens when people are on the way to school.

    I like Puzzled’s snowball analogy — kids harassing each other with snowballs (which are about as harmless normally and about as potentially dangerous given all the right conditions as an Airsoft pellet) should not be poo-poohed and dismissed if the kids on the receiving end really are being distressed and not playing along, but kicking kids out of school for a year it would be something most normal people would regard as ridiculous.

  76. Mark Swan September 26, 2013 at 9:10 am #

    It does seem that expelling the kids only makes it worse. Losing a year of education is bad enough. Who knows how this will affect their behavior. They could improve, but I bet they’ll get worse. Taking them to the police station and having their parents pick them up is a punishment that can show them how bad their behavior was and that it won’t be tolerated, but then it’s over and they have a good chance to move on.

  77. Jen (P.) September 26, 2013 at 9:31 am #

    “I don’t necessarily think these kids need to be charged (mostly because juvie court is largely meaningless) but none of you would be saying “boys will be boys” if adults were shooting people waiting at a bus stop with an air soft gun so I’m not sure why it is no big deal that kids are doing it.”

    I wouldn’t call it “no big deal” but it is within the realm of normal kid (mis)behavior. The same could not be said if they were adults. So it should be treated as normal kid misbehavior.

  78. Donna September 26, 2013 at 9:47 am #

    “I like Puzzled’s snowball analogy — kids harassing each other with snowballs (which are about as harmless normally and about as potentially dangerous given all the right conditions as an Airsoft pellet)”

    I disagree totally with the snowball analogy. I’ve been hit by snowballs and I’ve been hit by these pellets. No comparison. I’ve never been bruised and bloodied from a snowball fight and even the star of the baseball team can’t throw a snowball 70 feet with any force left in it.

    “the presence of a bus stop in your neighborhood an excuse for the school to take jurisdiction over everything that happens there between 7 and 4.”

    The school isn’t doing that. It is claiming jurisdiction over actions BETWEEN ITS OWN STUDENTS happening at the bus stop IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE STUDENTS DEPART THE BUS. Not non-students, not hours later, not weekends, not kids lingering for a time at the bus stop. But kids getting unwillingly shot at the bus stop immediately after they disembark from the bus by fellow students.

    And why I can’t say if bullying is occurring, statements by both the kids and the 911 caller clearly indicate that the boys absolutely are intentionally shooting classmates who are not actively involved in the game. This is not a situation of random kids just being hit in the crossfire by stray pellets but unwilling kids being chased and shot in the back.

    Of course, if the kids are homeschooled or this was happening on Saturday, the school can’t/shouldn’t do anything. The alternative there is to arrest them and prosecute them in juvenile court. You all don’t want that either.

    Basically, I think many here just never want any outside punishment for kids at all. Parents can handle everything and we get to sit on our hands and do nothing if the parents won’t step up to the plate or can’t handle the problem. Based on Edie’s characterization of the parents’ attitude about this incident, they see no problem and think it was all a fun game. Where do you really think complaints to them are going to go?

    I don’t think expulsion is the right answer here but I would expect the school to step up to the plate and say to the parents “your kids are being little jerks at the bus stop and you need to do something about it immediately or we will.” And then react with school punishment or police involvement if it doesn’t stop.

  79. Andy September 26, 2013 at 9:54 am #

    @Mark Swan Whether you went them to get jail time or not does not matter once you start criminal investigation. The system will take control. There is no such thing as only “going through motions” once prosecutor starts working.

    Do not start “going through motions criminal charges” unless you really want the system to do what it is designed to do.

    Especially not in country with as high sentences as America has and as high rates of incarcerations as America has. Plus, as far as I know, having juvenile record can still cause you huge problems if you will want to go to college or when you look for a job.

    Engaging criminal system is not a light teaching lesson nor should it be. It is serious thing with strong consequences.

  80. CrazyCatLady September 26, 2013 at 10:16 am #

    For SKL and others who say these are just toy guns, my friend has used guns like these to shoot down and kill, raccoons and porcupines in trees on their property. It sounds like these are on par with .22 rat shot (which I have used to kill rats.)

    Are these fun for target practice in a supervised manner keeping in mind that the balls can travel and cause damage? Sure. But it sounds like the adults either were not home (and didn’t have rules about when, where and how to use) or didn’t understand that these can be used in a manner that can kill animals and should NOT be pointed at kids without safety gear.

    When I was about 11, a neighbor kid got a pellet gun. He ended up shooting my brother in the back when my brother was trying to go home after my mother called him for dinner and the kid wanted him to stay and play. My brother had a nasty bruise, my parents talked to his, and though we didn’t play much with the kid after that, we never did see that gun again. Which is as it should be. It is a tool, and he was misusing it.

  81. pentamom September 26, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Donna, actually, it was clearly stated that this was happening BEFORE school as the kids were waiting for the bus. It doesn’t affect the story much but you are pretty confident about your impression of the situation yet you missed that part.

    The original story also indicates that at least one of the parents was taking a very strong line with her kid on it but she believed the school’s intervention was appropriate, so no, it’s not about the kids getting away with something and the parents doing nothing. It’s about whether it’s the schools job to control kids any time the kids are doing something that might possibly affect some other kids who have some relationship to the school, or only the school’s job to control kids when it’s their job to do so.

    And again, if it’s possible to do anything about homeschooled kids or kids doing this on a Saturday, or if this same misbehavior could be directed against people not related to the same school, then clearly “school” isn’t the proper venue for doing something about it. People want to use school as a weapon against everything kids do that they don’t like, and while I don’t believe that’s your attitude Donna, that’s what’s going on here and it’s inappropriate.

  82. K September 26, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Warden, you said this to Donna: Even a well educated, confident woman such as yourself would rather call the police, waste their time, over something that could be solved by a simple intervention.

    And my point is, not everyone IS a confident adult. Not that I advocate calling 911 for every little thing. A parent at school who is am EMT said that stats from Washington, D.C. One year showed that 37 people were responsible for a large percentage of the calls, in a city of over half a million people. Anyway. If a person has a reason to be afraid, they shouldn’t confront a person. Around here, some kids carry real guns.

    My city has a nonurgent call center up to ten pm. But after ten, you have to call 911 for everything. Thank you budget cuts. So personally, if my neighbors are having a noisy party and I have to work in the morning, I knock on their door and ask them t keep it down. The police have more important things to do. But when the people across the street are fighting in the road, I call 911. Getting in the middle of people who are drunk and high is not my idea of smart.

  83. Donna September 26, 2013 at 10:20 am #

    “Plus, as far as I know, having juvenile record can still cause you huge problems if you will want to go to college or when you look for a job.”

    Depends. Those records don’t show up on criminal histories nor are they obtainable by the public. Law enforcement can get to them in some cases and some juvenile adjudications can be used against you in adult proceedings but an employer or college will never know about them (with the possible exception of high level government clearances).

    The caveats to that are (a) juveniles charged as adults, (b) the sex offender registry or (c) actually doing time. The first two are pretty self-explanatory. The last doesn’t make your juvenile record any more available to employers or colleges, however, you are going to have difficulty hiding the fact that part of your high school years were spent in a juvenile detention center. Where your education took place will be reflected on transcripts. Recent addresses will may be asked about.

  84. pentamom September 26, 2013 at 10:21 am #

    Plastic Airsoft pellets are not the same thing as metal pellets that can take out vermin. Yes, they can hurt, but they’re not the same.

  85. Andy September 26, 2013 at 10:24 am #

    @Donna I agree that kids should be punished in this case, but year long expulsion sounds to me like something appropriate for repeated offenders that disturb school day making it impossible for other kids to learn.

    At least to me, expulsion sounds like something you do when kids prevent other kids to learn and you see them as hopeless case anyway.

    It makes sense if they have been involved in previous incidents, but it is only this one then it is overreaction.

    I do not like it much, because it is punishment by giving the kid less quality of education and they are too young to fully understand that. I would prefer punishment to lead kids towards better behavior then one that simply lowers their later chances in life. Again, adults understand such punishments, kids do not yet. It is more punishment for parents then kids.

    I have been hit by airsoft bullet too and it is no comparison to snowballs or pellet bullets. Airsoft hurts way way more. Especially if you do not expect that and hit comes as a surprise.

    Also, when we played Airsoft we have been told to wear eye protection and that was an unofficial game in an abandoned building (e.g. definitely not overly safe and protective environment).

  86. pentamom September 26, 2013 at 10:25 am #

    BTW, Donna, clearly you’ve never been hit by a slushball or an ice ball. That’s why I said that under the worst conditions they’re equivalently dangerous.

  87. Warren September 26, 2013 at 10:26 am #

    Never been hurt, or bruised by a snowball? I can’t happen? At 13 I could throw a baseball or softball right around the 100 yard mark. Yes I know, because there were skills competitions at the tournaments we went to. As for snowballs, they cetainly can cause injury and have caused them, black eyes being the most common. Don’t get me wrong, I loved and still encourage snowball fights.

    And as for the school intervention…..totally wrong. Donna, you want to talk legally….then the school has no right. It is not school property, and that is cut and dry, no gray area. Secondly, doesn’t matter if it is one hour after school, or one minute, it is after school hours. Again cut and dry. Unless you can show me a law that states kids are under school supervision for some predetermined amount of time after school, off property. I doubt you can, because the schools would not want the liability of being responsible for students, off property, after hours.

  88. pentamom September 26, 2013 at 10:27 am #

    “but she believed the school’s intervention was appropriate, ”

    Sorry, she believed it was INappropriate

  89. NJ Mom September 26, 2013 at 10:34 am #

    Schools–at least in NJ–definitely see the bus stop as part of their domain. Many parents do, too. After all…it’s the school’s fault if the bus stop isn’t convenient for their child; it’s the school’s fault if the child gets off at the wrong stop; it’s the school’s fault if their child is bullied at the bus stop, etc. So the schools in turn take care of business. They put cameras on the buses and in the hallways, develop elaborate “anti-bullying” policies, provide endless instruction about drugs, sex, and how to be friends. They do this because parents ask them to.

    My point is that the boys shooting pellets at kids at the bus stop is not the point…it is that parents in the US have essentially given up their own responsibility for parenting to others–teachers, bus drivers, police, schools, boards of ed, town officials, the media, etc.

    These boys were caught in the crossfire (sorry, that just sounded good here) of this concept. What they did was very wrong and irresponsible and they should be punished; everyone agrees on that. But what we can’t agree on is who exactly is to do the “parenting” of these very normal boys.

    What we collectively can’t seem to understand is that parents are truly the one’s responsible for their children. The rest of the community is there to help in that process. Folks say they want their children to grow to be independent adults, but that’s certainly not going to happen until all parents start acting like adults and take responsibility for their own and their children’s actions.

  90. Red September 26, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    “My city has a nonurgent call center up to ten pm. But after ten, you have to call 911 for everything”

    Our local police non-emergency number is only manned from 10am-4pm nowadays. Any hours outside that, you call 911 for everything.

    And in my experience with our local non-emergency number, they’ve told me to hang up and dial 911 almost every time I’ve used the non-emergency number.

  91. Donna September 26, 2013 at 2:29 pm #

    @ Andy – I agree that the punishment didn’t fit the crime. I wouldn’t think that they needed to be expelled if this was happening on school grounds during school hours. I view expulsion as a last resort for repeat offenders who have proven that they are simply not going to behave in school.

    Pentamom – Sure, I’ve been hit by an ice ball. I was also wearing sweaters, jeans and a jacket at the time, leaving my face as the only potential point of skin impact. An airsoft pellet – plastic or metal (not that we know what they were using) – hitting bare skin, as is likely in early September when you are dressed in far fewer clothes, is much more painful.

    Warren, I realize that you are an expert in anything but I don’t believe for a second that you could throw a snowball that still had any force behind it 70ft at 13. I don’t believe that you can throw a snowball with any force behind it 70ft now. I don’t doubt that you could throw one 70 ft, but it certainly doesn’t feel like a pellet fired from a gun at that far distance.

  92. lollipoplover September 26, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

    @Donna- speaking of the punishment not fitting the crime, have you seen this?

    So she didn’t hurt anyone and fired a warning shot into the wall against her abusive husband that she had an active restraining order agianst. But this act endangered her children. Like seeing their mother beat up again is so much better for them.
    Again, add “gun” to anything and people loose all reason and logic. Her husband can beat the crap out of her with his bare hands and get a wrist slap punishment. She fires a warning shotinto a wall with a gun and gets 20 years in prison??!
    Absolutely insane.

  93. Donna September 26, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

    lollipoplover – Yeah, I’ve vaguely heard of that case. I’m glad she is getting a new trial. And will hopefully get a much more educated jury now that the whole Trayvon-thing has happened.

    But it isn’t just guns. What about the man who is being charged with endangering the welfare of a minor after his 3 year old died when a sofa bed she was playing on with her 10 year old sibling suddenly folded up just because he briefly left the children inside home alone? We simply have a dire need to take everything to the worst-case scenario today.

    As an FYI, I looked up that bed story real quick to see what he was charged with and found an article in the Irish Sun. That is the problem!! Why the heck are Irish newspapers reporting minor incidents in Harlem, NY (not that a child’s death is minor, but these are not exactly famous people of interest to Irish citizens)?

  94. hineata September 26, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

    @Donna – I think part of it might be, “Oh, look what the US is up to now, giggle giggle, our (insert country) might be screwed but at least we’re not completely insane!” I know we have the occasional ‘Only in America’ article running here. And it is mad to indict a guy because of such a sad accident (though I suspect these days we sadly might do something similar – OSH etc).

  95. Donna September 26, 2013 at 4:05 pm #

    @hineata – The irish story was just about the child dying. It was before the poor man was charged, so it really was a “look at the tragic way this poor child died” story.

  96. Andy September 26, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

    @Donna Weird and unusual accidents are reported everywhere. Today, I read a story about Chinese guy nose in American news.

    Another reason is that online newspapers live from ads and clicks. American click are as good as Irish ones.

  97. hineata September 26, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

    Back to the original article, I’m a bit stunned by the lack of community spirit shown this time around. Are your schools not part of your communities? Is this some kind of demonstration of North American hyper-individualism?

    Do you not have something called ‘in loco parentis’? Here the school is technically responsible for what happens from the time the child leaves home until when they return home, and while this is hardly ever used – for instance, unless something extremely dangerous is occurring, e.g. Sally is riding her bicycle down the centre of the motorway, the school would never interfere in how kids get to and from school – it would expected that the school at least says a few words to the offenders if their kids are getting up to crap in public before and after school.

    Here, if Jack decided to beat the crap out of Wiremu on the way to school, you can bet the school would become involved. If Jack went to the local high school, and Wiremu to the intermediate, both schools would become involved. This would be the case even if Jack had hauled Wiremu physically onto his (Jack’s) own property and beat the crap out of him there. Youth aid officers and restorative justice sit-downs with parents etc. would probably follow.

    Here you have little s”#$ firing projectiles off a property at other kids. Doesn’t really matter if it’s a gun, rocks, ninja knives.

    The only issue that I can see here with the school is the ridiculously inappropriate length of the punishment.

    Maybe your NA schools need uniforms – might promote some kind of sense of belonging and community. Still, in your defences, I suppose your schools have become such crazy fortresses that maybe any kind of sense of community is already lost….

    Schools here are certainly not perfect, not by any means, but they do usually enjoy a lot of community support, and tend to return the favour….

  98. hineata September 26, 2013 at 4:45 pm #

    @Donna – oh, well, that is a shame then, and a bit silly, though I guess simply a sign of how fast news travels these days…. 🙂

  99. Warren September 26, 2013 at 4:46 pm #

    LOL Donna. Try living in a northern climate, where snowball fights are not just with little fluffy things.

    You know I at first thought you were a somewhat educated woman, only to find out that you are nowhere near as intelligent as your career lets on.

    Tell you what bring up your ball glove and we’ll play catch.

  100. hineata September 26, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

    @Warren – grow up. Just grow up.

    Alternatively, come south, and I’ll hurl a few pinecones and rocks at you, like I used to when I was ten, and we girls used to gang up on the neighbour boy. Grew out of that a few decades ago, but I guess a little return to childhood wouldn’t hurt…..


  101. Donna September 26, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

    Warren – I’ve lived as far north as Maine, as far south as Florida and as far west as California (not to mention one foreign country and one incorporated territory). I’m well aware of snow in many different areas and of many different types.

    I’m also very secure in my intelligence. You are welcome to throw all the insults around about it that you want. In fact, the mere fact that you do so just serves to convince me that I am 100% correct in my views. Since I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to interact with you in person (or here, but I have no control over that), I’ll keep my ball and glove home, but thanks for the offer.

  102. Donna September 26, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

    Andy – I know they are reported everywhere. That is kinda the point. First, why? Second, when did this start because I don’t remember hearing about tragic child deaths from throughout the world in my younger years? Maybe something particularly spectacular would make it to far ports but this death, while uncommon, is really fairly mundane and boring.

  103. Andy September 26, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

    @donna I think that it is easier for journalists to find them and it is hard to find good local stories. Journalist has a deadline a has to write some amount of words. If people do not click on ehat he wrote, he will be without work soon. people read these things for entertainment not to learn.

    Another country is now what next city used to be.

  104. David Patrick September 26, 2013 at 11:27 pm #

    So how long are you teaturds going to lie about this?

    – The parents SIGNED the code of conduct. School jurisdiction and protection extends to the kids trying to reach their bus. The parents contractually agreed to this already.

    – The evidence is incontrovertible: these bullies were not just “playing among themselves” or “in their parents’ yard”, they were all over the place harassing and bullying and wounding their classmates who didn’t want to “play.”

    – These three bullies are already longstanding discipline cases with multiple fighting and bullying instances in their records.

    Chances are if the bullying little cretins didn’t have records of bullying a mile long, they wouldn’t be shipped off to alternative school, but for the SAFETY of the other kids it was the right thing to do!

  105. Puzzled September 26, 2013 at 11:35 pm #

    Just for the record, I didn’t say anything about snowballs. When I referred to hitting someone, I had in mind a punch in the face, not a snowball.

  106. Buffy September 27, 2013 at 5:30 am #

    Just for the record, I would never call anyone a teaturd and expect to be taken seriously.

  107. Donna September 27, 2013 at 8:33 am #

    Just for the record, I don’t even know what a teatard is.

  108. Warren September 27, 2013 at 9:57 am #

    Sure, name the place and time. Been there done that as kids. Which your statement goes to prove that over time, kids throw things at each other.

    As for my comments for Donna, she is just really out to lunch, to think that an snowballs are as harmless as she thinks. Maybe in a Charlie Brown Christmas Special, but in real life?

  109. lollipoplover September 27, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

    Just for the record, teaturd does not appear to be a word, but turd tea is:

  110. Suzanne September 30, 2013 at 6:42 am #

    This had nothing to do with school at all, it looks like the police department could have charged them with a misdemeanor if the pellets left the property but that doesn’t make it a school issue. I think the school district in this story lost sight of what their limitations are and where their responsibilities lie.

  111. Tsu Dho Nimh September 30, 2013 at 8:08 am #

    Overreaction by the school district aside … WTF were the parents thinking when they gave the boys the guns?

    If the children were firing the pellets at children who had not consented to be in the game, they were committing assault. It’s just as if they had been throwing rocks, sticks, but actually a bit more dangerous.

    Those pellets may be plastic, but the hits HURT, leave welts and bleeding injuries, and if one hits the wrong spot, can cause permanent disabling injuries. Everyone within range of the guns should be consenting and wearing appropriate protective gear (at least full eye protection)

    I have a small discolored spot in my right eye that’s been there since I was about 13 … shot in the eye by the neighbor’s child, who was messing around with a pellet gun in his back yard and hadn’t been taught to make sure the pellets don’t leave the property. His parents ended up paying the medical bills. for example

    I’ll skip the links to the eye injury photos – they are pretty gross.

  112. Warren October 4, 2013 at 3:04 am #

    After reading David’s comments, it all makes sense.

    You all sign Code of Conduct agreements? That is the beginning of your end.

    There is either something terribly wrong with children in the States, or the parents, where schools need to bind them legally with contracts to ensure behaviour.

    The whole concept is not only foreign but insane. You all just love giving away power, control. Makes sense, you give it away so you have something to complain about later. Do any parents down there other than Lenore have a backbone?

  113. Dark Space October 8, 2013 at 11:23 am #

    That gun absolutely does NOT look real. If you think that gun looks real, you need to stop in a gun shop and see what they have on their shelves. The caller even stated she knew it wasn’t real, she was just being overly cautious and now bears a portion of the responsibility for causing a permanent mark on these kids who were at worst shooting airsoft pellets at other kids. These are not powerful enough to harm anyone. A direct hit in the eye would probably not warrant first aid or a doctors visit, although it would, in all fairness, probably hurt if it were a direct eyeball hit.