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Mickmedic
04-09-2008, 14:50
Just another case of knee-jerk officials imposing their will and beliefs on the greater populace!

News and Observer
Published: Apr 09, 2008 12:30 AM Modified: Apr 09, 2008 05:32 AM
Sam LaGrone, Staff Writer

http://www.newsobserver.com/news/edu...y/1030367.html

ZEBULON - For Robert Lumley, the decision to bar his East Wake High School club marksmanship team from a statewide shooting tournament was as arresting as a shotgun blast.
Less than a day before the March 15 district round of the decades-old N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission competition, one of East Wake's principals, with the support of the area superintendent who oversees that school, stopped the team from participating.

The reason: Ammo and students don't mix, the school officials said.

Like districts across the nation, Wake County bans deadly weapons from campuses and prohibits students from carrying them on school trips. But the decision to bar the East Wake team from the tournament extends that prohibition to students participating in an off-campus event sponsored by a state agency and supervised by adults certified in firearms safety.

That call pits school policy against state law that allows firearms education at schools. The decision also runs counter to the efforts of wildlife agencies, hunting organizations and gun groups to recruit youths to replenish the dwindling number of hunters. It also underscores the tension between the fear of school massacres and the traditions of rural Wake, where hunting is still common.

"I can appreciate the fact they may have a policy, but all the government agencies need to remember, they're there to serve the public," said Wes Seegars, chairman of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. "There is something lost in a policy that does not serve the needs of the community."

The East Wake decision nullified months of practice by Lumley, a 17-year-old senior, and the rest of the 16-member marksmanship and orienteering team -- an offshoot of the school-approved FFA club, formerly known as the Future Farmers of America.

Lumley was riding with a team member the day before the tournament when he got the call that the principal "had put the red light on it," he said.

"If we had more time, we could have done something about it," Lumley said.

Schools diverge

Not all Wake schools treat marksmanship teams the same.

Cary High School allows students to use air rifles in school-sanctioned events. Cary's Navy JROTC program fires .117-caliber air rifles as part of off-campus competitions, principal Douglas Thilman said.

"We have had no issues with it," Thilman said.

The difference between East Wake and Cary is that JROTC programs are part of the school curriculum and FFA clubs are not, according to Wake Superintendent Del Burns.

The participation of Lumley's team in the shooting tournament came to the attention of school officials when another Wake school sought permission to participate.

That request drew the attention of Danny Barnes, area superintendent, and Sebastian Shipp, one of four principals at East Wake, and prompted them to review the status of Lumley's marksmanship team. This led to East Wake not being allowed to compete because of district policy.

"It's not a criticism of what the kids are trying to do," Barnes said.

Burns said these kinds of decisions are up to each principal.

At least one gun-control advocate agrees with the decision.

"The school and school board should have that right," said Roxane Kolar, executive director of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence. "You have to assume a school knows what's best for their school."

The Wildlife Commission tournament, now in its 30th year, is an incentive for middle school and high school students to participate in the hunter education course and is part of a larger effort to attract youths to hunting.

Each year, close to 2,000 middle and high-schoolers compete at the district level across the state. The competition is broken up into skeet shooting, rifle marksmanship, archery, and navigation across forests and fields. The state competition is in late April.

Chris Huebner of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission hunter's education program said the tournament promotes safety and is far from risky.

"What we teach is what the consequences are and what [guns are] capable of doing," Huebner said. "It's all in the perspective of safety."

Like many competitors in the tournament, East Wake's team members are graduates of the state's hunter education program and are part of the school's FFA club, led by adviser and East Wake teacher Janet Harris.

Harris has taught hunter education at East Wake and coached the tournament team for 22 years. She said her charges aren't happy about being barred from this year's competition.

"They were very disappointed, very upset," Harris said. "There's nothing we can do about it."

A question of fairness

Lumley's mother, Carol, said the hunting education team's members are being unfairly characterized by the school system.

"It's not like we're the rednecks that have to have guns," she said. "If this was promoting violence, what about wrestling? Is that promoting hand-to-hand combat?"

Robert Lumley and the rest of the team practiced at neighbors' farms and kept the guns off school grounds.

"Farm boys and guns go hand in hand," said Fred Ammons, who has hosted the team's tryouts on his farm.

For Lumley, months of hard training made the last-minute prohibition difficult to accept. Barred from competing on a Friday, Lumley's first thoughts when he woke up the next day were locked on the Saturday competition.

"When I looked at the clock, it was 11 a.m.," he said. "The first thing I thought was, 'Is the tournament over yet?' "


sam.lagrone@newsobserver.com or (919) 836-4951
Staff writer T. Keung Hui contributed to this report

keg3me
04-28-2008, 21:17
Knowing the heritage and lineage of students in the rural schools, and not allowing them to compete in an event that is of the utmost in safe, is beyond reason. "Ammo & students don't mix"...maybe in the inner city, but everybody who grew up on or near a farm knows about hunting, gun safety, and plinking on the weekends down by the creek. I've been away from the forum for a while, and NC for that matter, but this is a bunch of garbage. Hopefully cooler heads will prevail sometime in the future and allow them to compete.

MK

mitchshrader
04-28-2008, 21:20
hopefully hotter heads will take direct action, and remove the tyrants from positions of authority.

i better not get too specific, huh?

MrsKitty
04-29-2008, 21:39
WTF?

Hell, when I was in high school (class of '93) the NRA came out and we shot skeet on the tennis courts with 12 gauges! Kids went hunting before classes and brought in rifles that were locked up INSIDE the school until the day was over. Now these kids can't participate in this? WTF?

If you want a kid to learn how to safely drive a vehicle, you teach him. If you want a kid to learn to cook, you teach her. If you want a kid to learn how to rebuild a transmission, you show him. If you want t a kid to know how to safely handle a gun, you show him.

Anything you want a person to learn: you show them. Safely.

Sheesh. :soap: