Read & React: West Virginia Student Suspended for NRA Shirt

Read & React: West Virginia Student Suspended for NRA Shirt

It seems more often we read news stories where it is apparent that at least in some areas of the country, the inmates are running the asylum, meaning people who are irrational or just plain nuts are the people in power making the rules — or in some cases, the laws.

The most recent, "Are you kidding me?" news story came from West Virginia, where a 14-year-old middle school student was arrested and suspended simply for wearing an NRA T-shirt. I looked into the story, convinced that there had to be something else involved — an assault on a teacher, drugs, something.

Nope. Jared Marcum was arrested simply because he wore an NRA T-shirt to school and refused to take it off. On the shirt was a picture of a hunting camoed AR-15 and the words, "Protect Your Right" along with the NRA logo. The shirt apparently upset a teacher in the cafeteria, who told Marcum to take off the shirt or turn it inside out. Marcum informed the teacher that the shirt didn't violate the school's dress code, so he was sent to the principal's office.

"When the police came, I was still talking and telling them that this was wrong, that they cannot do this, it's not against any school policy," Marcum told The Associated Press. "The officer, he told me to sit down and be quiet. I said, 'No, I'm exercising my right to free speech.' I said it calmly." After the incident, local police charged Marcum with disrupting the educational process and obstructing an officer.

Check out the video from WOWK-TV in Charleston, W.V.:

According to the Logan County School District's dress code, students are forbidden from wearing anything that displays profanity, violence, discriminatory messages or sexually suggestive phrases. Garments that glorify alcohol, tobacco or drugs are also banned. Still, Marcum's lawyer, Ben White, insists that the NRA shirt did not constitute a violation of the dress code, let alone grounds for an arrest. White requested copies of the surveillance tape from the cafeteria.

Video evidence in the case, White said, indicates the situation in the cafeteria deteriorated when a teacher raised his voice while confronting Jared. Other students jumped up on benches and began chanting Jared's name.

"I think the disruption came from the teacher," White said. After his one-day suspension, Marcum returned to school wearing the exact same T-shirt that got him suspended. Marcum was joined by about 100 other students across Logan County, W.V., who wore shirts with similar gun rights slogans in a show of support for free speech.

"I'm still confused, thoroughly confused," Marcum told a local TV station. "The school didn't even make a statement to the news agencies, much less myself."

The case has been turned over to the local juvenile prosecutor.

"My sense is that no charges will be imminent," White said.

We at Guns & Ammo can't believe any prosecutor would be stupid enough to press charges against Marcum, but then again, who would have thought Marcum would have been suspended and arrested in the first place?

This is a complete and total failure of leadership. Apparently there is no responsible adult supervision in Marcum's school; if there was, the teacerh, the principal and the police officer should have been the ones punished for misbehavior.

However, there is one thing we all learned from this story: Jared Marcum's parents are doing a darn good job.

What do you think? Is the school justified in suspending Marcum, or does the suspension violate his First Amendment rights?

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Guns & Ammo stories delivered right to your inbox every week.