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Gun Owners Foundation Taking on Zero Tolerance in Schools

GOF News Release

Supporting Jared Marcum against overzealous prosecutor

Jared Marcum wore a T-shirt to his Logan County middle school in West Virginia on April 18, 2013 — a decision that has since sparked a national controversy.

No, Jared’s T-shirt did not depict a Muslim beheading a victim while shouting Alahu Akhbar! Such depictions of violence would violate the school’s dress code.

Jared’s T-shirt depicted a hunting rifle with the message: “Protect Your Right.” And now, he faces up to a year in jail for doing so!

The outrageousness of this case has prompted the involvement of Gun Owners Foundation, which has agreed to help Jared pro bono.

It all began on April 18. Everything was fine for the morning classes, but then the day went goofy when an anti-gun teacher confronted Jared in the lunch line and told him to turn his shirt inside out.

Jared pointed out that his shirt did not violate school policy.

The teacher sent Jared to the office where the same back and forth was repeated with the administration. Then a police officer was summoned who ordered Jared to turn his shirt inside out. Jared told the officer and the administration that he was doing nothing wrong.

According to the officer, Jared’s shirt constituted a terrorist threat. He did not put that in his written report, but instead charged Jared with obstructing an officer (apparently Jared interrupted the officer while he was talking to the administration).

Jared was cuffed, charged and told that he could be fined up to $500 and spend up to a year in jail. The prosecutor decided to press the charge, and a judge allowed the prosecution to proceed.

In a town of less than 2,000, what are the odds that at least five adults are this insane? And all on the same day?

Zero Tolerance can be better understood as Zero Judgment.

Jared was suspended for a day. When he returned to school, around 100 students wore similar shirts, and Jared wore the same shirt that fried the brains of five grownups two days earlier. Nothing happened. None of the students heard a word about their T-shirts.

Jared and his stepfather, Allen Ladieri, are to be commended for not backing down, and Gun Owners Foundation is actively supporting the case.

Usually, Gun Owners Foundation supports individuals appealing convictions on firearms charges that involve constitutional issues. But we think that Jared’s case warrants special attention, as it involves both First and Second Amendment freedoms.

If we are not allowed to make pro-Second Amendment statements — all because somebody is offended -- then we can count the days to when we’ll lose the freedoms enshrined in both Amendments.

If Jared prevails in this case, we may have finally reached a turning point regarding Zero Tolerance, which is one of the most insidious policies being inflicted on the nation’s young people.