Parents of a second-grader in Colorado Springs, Colorado, are outraged after their son was questioned by school officials for completing a class assignment in which he said he had seen the figure of a gun in the clouds.
Kody Smith, a student at Talbott Elementary in the Widefield School District, went outside last week with his classmates after being asked to describe figures in the clouds. The students were told to use their imaginations.
“Draw a picture of what you see in the clouds from your imagination, and that picture is a gun,” Kody told his teacher.
The teacher sent the 8-year-old to the school office and filed a behavior report.
“This is an example of what Jeff Cooper termed ‘hoplophobia,’ which he defined as a morbid fear of weapons and anyone who uses them,” said Chris Knox, director of communications for the Firearms Coalition.
“Elementary schools seem to be a center of hoplophobia,” Knox told WND. “I will grant that the Newtown horror may have put people on edge, but nothing teachers can say or do will prevent little boys from seeing guns wherever they look.”
Knox is the the son of the late Neal Knox, who was a noted Second Amendment expert, vice president of the National Rifle Association and chairman of the Firearms Coalition.
Chris Knox said he remembers as a kid imagining guns in many different objects, from “my favorite climbing tree (it had a pruned branch that looked remarkably like the grip of a pirate’s flintlock which had a comfortable feel as I sailed the ocean) to the Independent Insurance Agent logo, which to the 4-year-old version of me resembled a .45 Auto.”
Samantha Briggs, director of communication for Talbott Elementary, insisted reports of Kody's questioning by an assistant principal are overblown.
"There was never a detention or a consequence after he talked to the assistant principal," Briggs told WND.
Briggs explained the incident will not become part of Kody's permanent record.
"The only thing that goes into a student's permanent record is an expulsion, which has to go before the board of education. An office referral [used in Kody's case] is a communication tool to let parents know that a student was talked to if something happened in the classroom."
The school also released an official statement.
"Our primary responsibility as a school district is to ensure safety of all staff, students and community," the statement said. "We exercised an age-appropriate reaction to an incident. The student's education was never disrupted nor is this incident on the student's permanent record. Our response was in line with routine procedures focused on school safety."
Kody's mother, Angel Rivers, expressed frustration with the office referral.
"He's 8 years old. He was doing exactly what he was told to do for the assignment."
Knox sees a rise in such incidents from gun-shy school administrators.
"If educators suffer panic attacks every time a little boy sees a gun in an everyday object, one would hope they would seek help," he said. "Unfortunately, it's not unusual these days for psychologists to reinforce the panic. It frankly makes me wonder where it will end."