Teens suspended over photos with Airsoft guns on Facebook

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In Taunton, Massachusetts, two high school students were suspended by school administrators for 10 days after a picture of them, posing with airsoft guns in the living room of one of the teens before a school dance, was posted to Facebook.

The incident

Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School juniors, Jaime Pereira and her boyfriend Tito Velez, were dressed in their homecoming outfits in Velez's home when they decided to pose with a set of airsoft guns. Using proper trigger discipline with the muzzled pointed in a safe direction, the two posed while Velez's father took the picture, which was posted to Facebook, captioned Homecoming 2014."

Since the teens, both avid airsofters, often posted pictures to their social media account of them in their sport, they didn't think it would be a big deal.

They were wrong.

The post set off a chain of events that Pereira and Velez were not ready for. While the dance went off fine that Friday night, the following Monday the two were brought into the school office and disciplined with a 10 day suspension while expulsion is discussed, for making what the school took as threats.

(WHDH7 Boston)

"What it's about is a coupled students engaging in an activity that created a total destruction of the school day," school Superintendent Richard W. Gross told WHDH 7. "They're juniors in High School, and it's proactive and they should know better and it scared students."

Goss told another media outlet that he would have canceled the dance had he had seen the photo beforehand.

After being called on the carpet by school officials, Velez, 16, returned to Facebook to plead his case.

The original post, saved on Gunssaveslives.net as Facebook deleted it, reads in part:

"See this photo? yea, well this photo got me and my gf suspended from our high school for 10 days. possible expulsion too. Today we were taken right before the Cross Country states meet. We were asked, 'why would you post something like that?' when we tried saying something, they told us to be quiet and they separated us.

I was sent to a room and my bag was searched, along with my clothes and locker. The school called the police and they had a cop speak to us without reading our rights and without our parents permission. We had no say in what happened and we never got a chance to defend ourselves. We are both out of school now, in a school that only allows 4 days absent. Which means if they don't expel us, we pay for overpriced Saturday school and winter school.

I understand it was wrong to take a picture with guns but come on. My dad took the photos, in my house. The guns were pointed at the floor, on safety, mock mags in, and our fingers weren't on the trigger. We had a responsible adult and he isn't against Airsoft. He knows gun safety and he keeps my guns, I don't have them unless I'm out at the fields."

What do you think? Should they have been suspended over airsoft photos taken at a private home outside of school or did the school over-react? Let us know in the comments below.

Teens suspended over photos with Airsoft guns on Facebook - Editor - airsoft-kids-370.jpg
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October 29, 2014  •  06:05 PM
Erm, while I do think the school overreacted, neither of those guns have orange tips visible... To the casual observer, there is no indication that those are replica weapons, and therefore some reaction is warranted.

That said, I have no idea how the school went from 'picture posing with guns' to 'these two are going to shoot up the homecoming dance'. 'An activity that created a total destruction of the school day'? Give me a break.
October 29, 2014  •  06:11 PM
Suspension? Even detention is overkill. Their private life is none of e schools business. They should have had flash hiders on though because the police would be suspicious.
October 29, 2014  •  06:54 PM
This is a tough one for me, however I dont think the punishment was warranted. While the picture was uncalled for, they didnt mean it the way that the school took it. However I totally agree the school did need to check in on it. When you have two kids holding realistic looking guns, (did not have orange tips) and then they caption it homecoming, I would say that warrants an investigation. Should they have been punished after they were found innocent? ABSOLUTELY NOT!
October 29, 2014  •  08:03 PM
One should not paint over the gun but still it is tottaly legal to hold guns and post on face book. The school has no right to suspend them.
October 29, 2014  •  10:13 PM
@JoBro "their private live in none of the school's business" Amen to that
October 29, 2014  •  10:37 PM
No reaction is warranted. Whether they were real or airsoft. What someone does on their personal account should not be held in any situation(Unless engaging in terrorism or threats). Yes they are on public sites where anyone can see them, that doesn't show anything. Unless they wrote comments about that picture stating,"Prom 2014". Which in turn would make it known that they intended to take them to prom.

However, I am just confused on why they decided to take the picture in those clothing. Was the guy trying to act like Hitman or a Mafia Member? Also what purpose did the girl have? I understand taking pictures, but it seems out of place.

Not that I'm defending the school as I think it's an invasion of privacy, but why was that photo even taken? To show off the airsoft guns? That could have been done in a better way.
October 29, 2014  •  11:19 PM
They ought to pursue legal action... That's just wrong.
I'm obviously biased here, but it looks like a reference to James bond more than anything else.

would I have posted something like that myself? nope. still wrong of the school and police to dish out such harsh consequences.
October 29, 2014  •  11:23 PM
Ehh, James Bond, Hitman, Mafia Member all the same thing.

I just find it horrible that our society can still continue to do this. Even after all of the lawsuits. So this is where our Education money is going. To the lawsuits.

Learn something new everyday.
October 30, 2014  •  06:29 AM
I personally get the school's reasoning for stepping in and doing something, BUT I think the school went too far.
I saw the image first and honestly I thought "Crap some kids were about to shoot up their school, happy the school stepped in, but why JUST suspension?" Again, that was my thought after simply only seeing the image with the tag "Homecoming 2014".

After reading the story and doing a bit of research, yes once administration found out the guns were airsoft AND no additional proof of harming other students was found, I think the school should have dropped it and kept moving.
The type thinking the school is now using is like saying "Hey I saw the pics of you hanging out with known drug dealers on FB, so we're going to suspend you because we THINK you may be selling as well eventhough there's no further proof"

If you ask me, yes the kids should have been suspended [WAIT], suspended pending investigation. Once they discovered the situation was harmless, the suspension should be withdrawn.

Additionally, the whole "private life is private" thing only works when you keep your private life private. Once you start posting your private life on the net, it's no longer private.
October 30, 2014  •  09:10 AM
This is one of the dumbest things I have heard schools do. Even with proper discipline with the guns, no threat was intended towards the school. The district is completely out of line and should reinstate the students with a public apology. Our society is becoming so scared of our own shadows that they will over react to anything. Fire the school administrators...
October 30, 2014  •  03:21 PM
Thx Lego. And I do agree with buster too. If they had flash hiders, then nothing would have happened. But... It is really disturbing to know that the school stalks your Facebook.
October 30, 2014  •  03:55 PM
Just...what??? This is absolutely asinine. Maybe an email or phone call home making sure nothing was amiss and that should have been the end of it. Even if they were real firearms, it was obviously a joke (albeit a dumb one).

@theonlyBuster, private life IS private (or supposed to be). There wasn't any threat made to the school other than the joke which I suppose the administrators grossly misinterpreted.

Also those kids look pretty small to be juniors. :p
October 31, 2014  •  02:57 AM
This actually happened in a similar fashion to me, albeit, with zero-involvement with a school-setting. It was an image on Facebook, of my HFC M190, orange tip and all. Next day I come to school I'm in the Principal's office being questioned, and having my locker searched, though, they just wanted to make sure that it wasn't real, and that I wasn't going to do anything with it. (The caption "Can't wait for tomorrow" might have had something to do with that, bad wording on my part.) I didn't get suspended, or anything like that, and I left the office on a good note with both the head-administrator, and the school liason officer. Never heard about it ever again. I guess I should count myself lucky for not ending up like these two.

Regardless, I understand that a caption "Prom 2014" being coupled with the image that the students posted could potentially raise a few red-flags with the paranoid-folk (all it takes is one concerned parent, or student). However, once the school had learned that the "guns" were replicas, I think that the situation should have been dropped, that it's a waste of time for both the school board, and the police to have to file all kinds of paperwork on something so minuscule. Being suspended, or even given anything more than a talking-to, is unnecessary, I think.
October 31, 2014  •  08:24 AM
@SharpShot99 The thing is they did write homecoming as the comment for the picture
October 31, 2014  •  02:30 PM
i think that you should sue the police station for not allowing you to speak. that clearly breaks the ammendment. even with a real gun you shouldnt be suspended. airsoft guns are classified as TOYS!!!!!!!! so would the school suspend you for posting pictures of nerf guns. That doesnt make sense
October 31, 2014  •  03:00 PM
Total overreaction on the school's part. If they had the brains to see previous posts with airsoft guns and realize that is what they are, everything would be a-ok.

How they can suspend you for a picture with toy guns that had no threat to it is beyond me. The fact that they were not read their rights and given no chance to defend themselves is beyond unconstitutional. Teenagers are given the same rights as adults.

Whilst based upon the age of majority in their state, they may not be able to execute certain rights, but none the less are protected from unlawful search and seizure, the right to have legal counsel(including parents) present, and obviously the 5th amendment.

Although, they maybe should have put on the orange tips for that one.
October 31, 2014  •  03:26 PM
Also, I'd like to point out what the superintendent said in the video.

"It's not a social media thing, it's not a gun thing. What it is,is students engaging in an activity."

That makes no sense. You suspend them for engaging in an activity with no unlawful behavior? That guy can't even form a coherent English statement, yet he is superintendent? Nice.
October 31, 2014  •  10:58 PM
@I_Am_Coopa His point was that they just wanted to annoy/provoke the school. I also want to point out that his part was cut out, which I found was just wrong.

I think this shouldn't be hitting the "news" I mean this is sad, people are dying places and they are reporting this kinda junk... sad....
November 2, 2014  •  10:26 AM
I gotta say, schools seem to love "forgetting" about the 1st amendment.
November 5, 2014  •  05:18 PM
i think that is just plain stupid... i think that that is a way too harsh punishment... if anything, they should just be talked to or maybe get a detention! that is a total over-reaction made by the school!
November 15, 2014  •  08:16 PM
Guys, you're in high school, you don't get the Miranda rights read to you. Your parents gave permission when they registered you. And what's more, is that your school's technology acceptable use policy specifically states that what was done was an incitement.

I really don't know why anyone is arguing for these punks. THey're making us respectful, law-abiding airsofters, as well as gun owners, look like a bunch of tasteless mooks.
December 5, 2014  •  12:10 AM
I believe their only fault was coloring the orange tips. The school took it way to far. I understand the concern the school had, and glad they took action.

However: The school needed to apologize for the inconvenience they not only put onto the two students, but for all the students.

A lot of the comments I read stated that they should sue the school, and or police station. Reason they stated was because the school interfered with their privacy and personal lives. At first glance, they do look a lot like real weapons. On the M4 you can see that the orange tip was colored in with sharpie(or at least what it looks like.)

My personal opinion: Both parties where in fault. Schools have the right to check up on school related triggers i.e."Home Coming 2014". My school has # for prom, games, events, dances, and all things.

If I was to post a picture with my knife, and I had # homecoming, I wouldn't be surprised that I got into trouble. I used a knife as an example because it help explain my opinion. If I had tweeted: "So excited for Prom 2014!!!1!" And later I posted a picture of my knife, the school will see my # they set up, and would also see the knife picture. That's my fault entirely.

Okay, I am going to wrap it up now.

The school was at fault for not stopping the punishment once the issue was resolved. But it is also the Students fault for the caption and for coloring the orange tip. I mean, they could at least have said: "Posing with my gf, Airsoft is our favorite sport!"
December 20, 2014  •  11:26 PM
To be fair, they look like real guns to the untrained eye. Its understandable the school would react this way. They should have at least put the word airsoft in there somewhere.

Still, expulsion for this is simple mistake is total bull.
January 7, 2015  •  10:43 PM
honastly its a private profile out of school in the kids home with their parents there is no reason for a suspention even if the guns have no orange tip.
February 11, 2015  •  04:21 PM
I'm still trying to understand why it would make a difference if they were airsoft or real guns, its a picture, in their private home, with no criminal posture, so what? Students were scared???? Grow a backbone!
February 11, 2015  •  04:24 PM
Two problems .. Liberals, and Facebook. People create more problems and decimination of false info through Facebook than any other source.
May 22, 2015  •  11:48 AM
I dont understand how they could get away with 10 days of suspension, over a photo..... I have not read the initial post, but without Intent being put on personnnel injury of other school members or other individuals nothing should have been done over a picture of two kids holding weapons, real or not! Without Intent, Capabilty and Opertunity nothing wrong was committed. Sure you can say they Had Capability( weapons in picture) and an Opetunity(the Dance) But the Intent to Commit Physical Body Harm or Death was not avaliable. Questions should have been asked by Law Enforcment and an Investigation done, But without solid evidence that Intentional wrongdoing was connected with the picture the suspention should have been expounged from the studensts records. In My Opinion....
December 8, 2016  •  01:33 PM
@maddmatt Amen man, they would say they would try to shoot up the school. That is what these ignorant liberals do