Guns Allowed In School ... Sort Of

The phrase “school shooting” has been nailed with negative connotations these days, but with school shooting programs (think sporting clays) actually on the rise across the United States, not all is lost.

In response to requests from parents, a Nebraska public school board voted unanimously this week to permit graduating seniors to pose with firearms in their school yearbook photographs.

The Broken Bow Public Schools Board, which serves a predominantly rural area located near Kearney, Nebraska, agreed 6-0 that seniors could appear in the school yearbook photographed with guns, as long as it’s “tasteful and appropriate,” The Omaha World-Herald reported.

Not surprisingly, hunting and shooting sports are common in the community of approximately 4,000, where about 50 students will be part of the 2015 graduating class.

“The board, I believe, felt they wanted to give students who are involved in those kinds of things the opportunity to take a senior picture with their hobby, with their sport, just like anybody with any other hobby or sport,” said Broken Bow Schools Superintendent Mark Sievering.

While the district previously had no policy regarding senior photos for the yearbook, firearms had been prohibited due to “national concerns about school violence,” Sievering told the Omaha newspaper. The new policy specifies that students may pose with items that illustrate their accomplishments or interests, including hunting, shooting and other outdoor sporting activities.

There was no opposition to the Board’s action this week, not even from the group Nebraskans Against Gun Violence, whose director said she had no concerns as long as the photo sessions took place off campus and were supervised.

Matthew Haumont, one of a voting school board members and a Nebraska hunter education instructor who has enjoyed the shooting sports all his life, said he wanted the photos to be respectful of the shooting sports. Shooting is a part of the town culture, he said, and a number of students shoot competitively in addition to hunting.

“For me as a sportsman, I think the policy’s important because it allows those kids who are doing those things a chance to demonstrate what they’re doing and to celebrate that,” Haumont added. “I think that’s important and fair in our country.”

Photographer Brian Baer of Kearney, whose studio attracts seniors from a 100-mile radius, said he is unaware of any school district that prohibits firearms in senior portraits.

“Some schools enforce rules such as their dress code, (so) whatever goes for the dress code also has to apply to the senior picture that would be published in the school’s annual,” he said. “But I’ve never heard of any limitation as far as guns.”

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