Colorado Teen Is Suspended for His Snapchat Video at a Shooting Range

(File photo: Brian Blanco/Reuters)
Safety is no excuse for trampling the civil liberties of an innocent 16-year-old.

A  16-year-old boy was suspended from school for posting a Snapchat video of the guns he was planning to shoot while he was at the range with his mother.

The boy, Nathan, posted a Snapchat video showing the five pistols and one rifle he was planning to shoot at the range with his mother, Justine Myers, on August 27, according to an article in Reason. He captioned the video with the words “Finna be lit.”

The pair reportedly did not have cellphone service while at the range, and, once they left, they were in for a huge surprise: They had received several missed calls, voicemails, and text messages. Among the callers was Justine’s ex-husband, who informed her that the police had contacted him about Nathan’s video. Apparently, someone had reported it to Safe2Tell, an anonymous Colorado reporting service that residents can use to inform the cops of any possible threats so that police can review them.

According to Reason, Loveland police took a look at the video, spoke to Nathan’s parents, and decided pretty easily that Nathan was not any sort of threat. This makes sense — after all, Nathan never posted anything threatening to harm anyone, not even vaguely. Rather, he was just sharing his excitement about spending a completely safe, legal pastime with his mother.

What happened next, however, does not make sense: The next morning, Justine got a call from the Thompson Valley School District informing her that Nathan was not welcome at school until further notice because of the video. She tried to explain the situation to the school the same way that she had to the police, but school officials would not budge on their decision — or even give her his homework to make up at home while he missed class. Rather, Justine would have to make her case for her son in front of a seven-person panel (consisting of law enforcement, counselors, teachers, and administrators) at a “threat assessment hearing” on August 29.

Thankfully, a Colorado-based gun-rights group, Rally for our Rights, caught wind of the story and put pressure on the school to allow Nathan back in class — which, according to Reason, resulted in Nathan’s hearing lasting only five minutes instead of the usual hour.

Although the panel quickly decided that it would be acceptable for Nathan to return to class, the trouble didn’t end there. No — Justine told Reason that, once he returned, his classmates started making fun of him so badly, calling him a “school shooter,” that he came home pleading to be homeschooled.

According to Reason, school officials insist that they didn’t get final clearance from the cops until 18 hours after the incident, on August 28. If this is true, that is unacceptable on the part of the cops. If it isn’t true? Well, then it’s unacceptable on the part of the school. It was obvious to investigators that poor Nathan was not any threat whatsoever and that therefore he could attend class. The two institutions should have immediately convened to ensure that this happened, rather than drop the ball in a way that caused him so much unnecessary suffering.

This is especially true when you consider the fact that Safe2Tell is an anonymous reporting service and that anyone can call in claiming that someone is a threat just to bully or antagonize the person. Even worse: People have done that. Yep, according to Reason, Safe2Tell estimates that, of all of the reports it received last year, roughly 470 of them were intentional fabrications.

The Second Amendment gives Nathan and Justine every right to spend an afternoon at the shooting range if they choose to do so. The pair did absolutely nothing wrong, and the fact that these government-funded institutions — which are supposed to serve people like Nathan and Justine — caused them so much pain for no reason is completely unacceptable. Anyone with half a brain could easily see that Nathan was not a threat and that there was no reason for him to have to miss school. Safety is obviously very important — which is why it is so disgusting to see people use it as an excuse to punish obviously innocent people by removing their civil liberties and making them the butt of unnecessary taunting.


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