A 7-year-old second grader has been suspended from his school in Suffolk, Virginia, after playing Marines and using a "pencil gun" as a weapon. The boy's parents have argued that the school is overreacting to harmless play.
Christopher Marshall was in school, playing with another student, when his teacher asked the boys to stop pointing pencils at each other.
"When I asked him about it, he said, 'Well, I was being a Marine and the other guy was being a bad guy.' It's as simple as that," Paul Marshall, Christopher's father, told WAVY News. "Enough is enough. I see it as the tail now wagging the dog."
Christopher and the other student were then suspended for two days, citing the school's "zero-tolerance" policy for weapons. Yet Paul saw no problem with what his son did, given the fact that no one was harmed, and Christopher often played Marines since his dad was, in fact, a member of the United States Marine Corps.
"A pencil is a weapon when it is pointed at someone in a threatening way and gun noises are made," spokesperson Bethanne Bradshaw explained. "Some children would consider it threatening, who are scared about shooting in schools or shootings in the community. Kids don't think about 'Cowboys and Indians' anymore; they think about drive-by shootings and murders and everything they see on television news every day."
Of course, the suspension has only fueled the division between gun rights supporters and those who are working to promote background checks and other new gun legislation. And it's part of a trend of youth being suspended or severely disciplined for either playing with pretend guns or even eating food into the shape of a gun.
"If your seven year old students are thinking about drive-by shootings and murders they see on television you might have problems a lot larger than a fake pencil gun," noted Gawker reader stacyinbean.
"Not to belittle the major problems with American gun culture, but I totally did this too; I watched Indiana Jones and such in the 80's and definitely ran around saying, 'pow pow pow!' while pointing my fingers like guns. I guarantee you our parents' generations played Western and did the same thing. I guess it's a bit disturbing in retrospect, but kids really latch on to that kind of stuff. It doesn't necessarily mean they're going to be violent when they get older," added Kris.
Watch a report on the suspension HERE: