No, this isn’t a repeat of the story of the toy gun on Zoom that triggered a police investigation…
Not even three weeks ago, the gun-owning public was shocked, angered, and a little amused by the story of a seven-year-old boy, the toy gun that was visible on a Zoom call with his school, and the police who showed up to investigate. Today, we have a new one from the People’s Republic of Maryland: According to Fox News, a peek at a child’s BB gun visible during his online class resulted in yet another police investigation.
Just as with the last time an anti-gun parent lost their minds at the sight of something vaguely gun-shaped, this incident was (ahem) triggered when an 11-year-old Boy Scout’s BB gun, which he keeps mounted on his bedroom wall, caused “someone” to complain to the police about a “weapon” in a child’s bedroom. The article is cagey about whether that someone was an anti-gun parent or a teacher who was so alarmed by a BB gun they felt the need to call the cops, but the identity of the moronic busybody actually isn’t terribly important. So what is?
What’s important here is that, nationwide, schools have been closed since mid- to late March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and most students are being educated the same way that most adults with “desk jobs” are working–remotely, via video conference. This means that, for the first time, the schools are being given a window into the students’ homes. Teachers have always had a duty to report suspected child abuse, and the Coronavirus quarantines made school administrators very worried that they would miss the signs of domestic abuse if they couldn’t see the children in person. Nobody disputes the importance of safeguarding kids against abuse…but it appears that some people have gotten very creative indeed with what constitutes abuse.
For the record, that linked article lists the following (in addition to more obvious signs like bruising and rapid weight loss) as things teachers should look for:
- aggressive or repeated shouting
- hearing hitting or things being broken
- children crying for long periods of time
- very young children left alone or are outdoors by themselves
- children looking dirty or not changing their clothes
- children being withdrawn or anxious.
Oddly, BB guns on bedroom walls aren’t on that list or any other one…but that’s not the point. The point is that the first time is chance, the second time is coincidence, and the third time is a pattern. This may be only the second incident that we know about, but there’s good reason to believe that there’s a pattern shaping up here. That pattern seems to be that offering a government employee a glimpse into your home–no matter how good the reason for doing so–seems to inevitably lead to another government employee showing up on your doorstep requesting a tour.
There are a couple of things that gun-owning (or toy-gun-owning, or BB-gun-owning) families should take away from this and other incidents: First, and I want everyone reading this to read this part out loud:
“Come back with a warrant.”
In this particular case, the parent allowed the officer into her home and watched as he searched her son’s room for…what, exactly? They already knew it was a BB gun…and after 20 minutes he graciously consented to leave and no further action was taken. (That’s because the Maryland legislature hasn’t gotten around to banning BB guns yet–but give them time.) Luckily, in addition to the Second Amendment, we also have the Fourth. You don’t have to let them in if you don’t want to, and it’s a public service to amuse a judge by making a cop go ask him for a warrant to look for a BB gun in a fifth-grader’s bedroom.
Second, this is just more evidence that safeguarding your privacy, sadly, now has to happen even while you’re within the walls of your castle. If you’re part of a gun-owning family and you have a child who must video conference for their schoolwork, you should probably take a good long look at what is visible from their webcam. After all, this isn’t the first time it’s become obvious that some people think of your kids as their entertainment…and that some of those people also think setting law enforcement on you is even more fun.
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