Wisconsin School Bans Shirts Depicting Guns, Parents File Federal Lawsuit

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The mothers of two boys in a Wisconsin school district have sued the system for a rule that prohibits students from wearing clothing that depicts guns, according to ABC News. Both boys were disciplined by the school for wearing shirts that depicted guns in a way that the family’s attorney says is completely anodyne.

Kettle Moraine High School in Wales, Wisconsin, has a dress code that bars kids from wearing clothing featuring guns and similar paraphernalia — even if they are not depicted in a “violent or threatening manner.”

ABC News notes that Wales is not far from Waukesha, where a school resource officer shot and wounded a teenager who pointed a gun at him on December 3, 2019. The following day, there was another school shooting in a different Wisconsin city, which also resulted in a student being shot and wounded by a school resource officer.

However, the attorney for the two unidentified teenagers says that a student who wears a shirt depicting a gun — particularly one displayed in a non-threatening manner — is not necessarily inclined to carry out a school shooting.

“I mean, there’s just not any correlation between those two,” said attorney John Monroe.

The incident occurred earlier this month on February 19. Mothers Tara Lloyd and Kimberly Newhouse, whose two sons are described as avid hunters and supporters of the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms, wore different shirts to school depicting guns. One wore a shirt depicting a holstered gun and the inscription “Wisconsin Carry, Inc,” while the other student wore a shirt depicting a rifle and the words “pew professional.”

After being called into Principal Beth Kaminski’s office, the two boys were told that they would have to cover up their shirts with their jackets. Both students were also allegedly told that the school’s prohibition against shirts depicting guns is not a violation of their First Amendment right to free speech.

In their lawsuit, the boys’ mothers are reportedly not seeking any monetary damages. Instead, they are seeking an injunction to prohibit the school district from enforcing the sections of its dress code that pertains to guns.

“The shirts are not threatening, violent, or illegal, and they do not depict drugs or alcohol,” the lawsuit reads.

However, a spokesperson for the Kettle Moraine School District claims that schools have the right and duty to police what students wear — particularly when it comes to sensitive issues like guns.

“Wearing shirts with images of weapons is not an issue of free speech, and it can be respectfully regulated by the District,” the spokesperson said.