Judge Rules Against Kid’s “Come and Take It” Hat

by Vern Evans

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In a remarkable decision that has stirred up both controversy and incredulity and is gaining traction on social media sources such as Reddit and others, United States District Judge Terrence Berg ruled against a third-grade girl who was asked by school officials at Robert Kerr Elementary School in Durand, Michigan, to remove her “Come and Take It” hat during a “hat day” event. The hat, adorned with an AR-15 image and a historic slogan, was deemed inappropriate by the school, citing concerns over the implications of violence and the potential for disruption in the educational setting.

Adam Stroub, the girl’s father, filed a lawsuit arguing that his daughter’s First Amendment rights were being violated. However, Judge Berg upheld the school’s decision, stating that administrators have the authority to place reasonable regulations on student expression if it is “reasonably necessary to avoid disruptions of the teaching and learning process.”

The school’s principal, Amy Leffel, and behavioral specialist Michael Papanek expressed their concerns, emphasizing that the hat’s imagery and slogan could be perceived as threatening, especially in a gun-free elementary school zone. They also highlighted the need to maintain a kind and non-confrontational environment for students, some of whom had transferred from a district that had experienced a school shooting the previous year.

Critics of the ruling, including the Firearms Policy Coalition, argue that the decision infringes on the student’s First Amendment rights. They contend that public schools should not suppress pro-Second Amendment expressions and that the image of a legal firearm on apparel does not inherently suggest violence or incite altercations.

The backlash on platforms such as Reddit has been fierce, with many calling the ruling and the school’s stance as overreaching and misguided. Critics argue that if a student feels uncomfortable because of a picture or a slogan, the educational system is failing in its mission to educate rather than coddle.

This case has sparked a heated debate over the balance between school safety and the right to free expression, highlighting the deep divisions in how Americans perceive the presence and representation of firearms in educational settings.

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