Two students from the Kettle Moraine High School in Wales, Wisconsin, have filed a suit against the school claiming that their constitutional rights were violated when they were banned from wearing T-shirts that depicted guns in a “non-threatening, non-violent manner.”
The suit was filed in the Milwaukee federal court by the students’ mothers, who are self-proclaimed gun enthusiasts, avid hunters, and great supporters of the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
John Monroe, the attorney representing the mothers, Tara Lloyd and Kimberly Newhouse, said: "An image of a gun on a shirt, you know -- there's a giant leap of faith to get from that to an actual school shooting. I mean, there's just not any correlation between those two.”
Monroe maintained that his clients were not after any monetary damages, but instead wanted a permanent injunction barring the school from prohibiting T-shirts that depict "firearms in a non-violent, non-threatening manner."
Beth Kaminski, the school principal, was named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, Lloyd’s son was removed from class and taken to Kaminski’s office because of his shirt which read: "Wisconsin Carry, Inc." and had the organization’s logo – a handgun partly tucked behind the words like a holster.
Lloyd’s son was then told that the school’s dress code "prohibits wearing anything threatening, violent and illegal, such as drugs and alcohol." He was asked to cover the T-shirt with his jacket.
Newhouse’s son was also called to the principal’s office the same day and asked to cover his "Pew Professional" T-shirt, which had the outline of an AR-15 rifle. According to the suit, the term "pew" denoted the sound made by "real or futuristic firearms when they are discharged.”
According to the suit, the two students were informed by the principal and associate principal that being directed to cover up their T-shirts did not violate their First Amendment right to free speech.
The suit also added that Kaminski later sent an email to Newhouse stating, "We do not allow students to wear clothes that depict guns" and informing her that her son would not be allowed to wear similar clothing to school.
The lawsuit read, "The shirts are not threatening, violent, or illegal, and they do not depict drugs or alcohol. The dress code does not provide objective criteria by which plaintiffs can determine what clothing is restricted."
A spokesperson for the Kettle Moraine School District supported Kaminski’s decision, stating that school officials have "legitimate concerns in preventing school violence."
"Wearing shirts with images of weapons is not an issue of free speech, and it can be respectfully regulated by the District," the spokesperson added.