Monday, September 29, 2014

Why is UK suspending four football players for playing with a toy gun?

Four University of Kentucky of Kentucky football players have been suspended from next Saturday's game with South Carolina. Their offense?

They were playing with a toy gun. Seriously.

They were suspended for firing air-soft guns on campus. An air-soft gun is an artificial gun that fires little white pellets that, when it does hurt, hurts less than a paintball gun.

Do people get suspended from UK for paintball?

The first thing, of course, is exactly what rule they broke. There was a lot of talk about breaking the rules, but what are the rules? Here is the code according to the Lexington Herald-Leader:
The code states that punishable disciplinary offenses include “any possession or display of, or attempt, or threat to use firearms, explosive or other weapons upon University property without University authorization.”
Okay, so where does an Airsoft pistol fit in here? It's not a "firearm," nor is it an "explosive," nor does it constitute a "weapon." So how did the players violate the code? Now maybe there is some rule about triggering the UK security alert or something (there was a brief lockdown because they thought someone had a gun), but, so far, that is not what they are saying.

My theory is that they are doing this for the same reason they ban students from smoking even outside on campus where the smoke could not possibly hurt anyone: they are against guns per se.
While pellets from an air-soft gun are not as dangerous as bullets from a regular firearm, they could cause injuries, particularly if they struck someone in the face, Monroe said.
Pellets from an air-soft gun are not as dangerous as bullets from a regular firearm? Someone give this man an award for understatement. He has probably also realized that a firecracker is not as dangerous as a hand grenade.

Pretty soon the UK Police will be patrolling the campus vicinity arresting children for driving their toy fire engines without a licence.

And can they cause injuries when they strike people in the face? Of course they can. So can a lot of other things, such as, oh, I don't know, tennis balls.

That's right. Tennis balls. Tennis balls, it turns out, are not as dangerous as bullets.

In fact the UK Football team has a player just coming off an injury from a drill they did in practice wherein a tennis ball is shot at a player, who is supposed to catch it. But wide receive Jeff Badet didn't do that, and it hit his eye and caused him to miss the team's first two games.

But do we ban the throwing of tennis balls?

In fact, players can be injured doing a whole lot of things on the football field. But we don't ban any of them. So precisely what is wrong with an air-soft gun and why should players be suspended for using one?

12 comments:

KyCobb said...

Martin,

Are you aware that a man was recently gunned down by police in a Walmart because he was holding a BB gun he had picked up there to purchase? When you are firing a gun on campus that could rapidly escalate into a very dangerous situation because these toys are frequently indistinguishable from the real thing.

Martin Cothran said...

KyCobb,

Are you comparing a BB gun to a air-soft gun?

KyCobb said...

Martin,

Yes I am. In the Walmart incident, the guy was just carrying the BB gun around. He didn't fire it, and the cops shot him down. According to the CJ:
"An airsoft pistol – which fires plastic pellets – was recovered after UK police received two calls at about 9:30 p.m. Sunday about possible shots fired outside the Kirwan-Blanding residence hall complex on the school's South Campus, which is near the football practice facility. UK Police, joined by Lexington Police, advised residents to stay in their rooms while an investigation and search was conducted. Police declared the area all clear shortly after 11:30 p.m."

The cops clearly didn't know it wasn't a real gun, and took the situation very seriously; someone could've been killed by a nervous cop.

Martin Cothran said...

So if I'm shot by a BB gun, there will be the same result as if I was shot by an air-soft gun?

Have you ever been shot by an air-soft gun?

Martin Cothran said...

The cops clearly didn't know it wasn't a real gun, and took the situation very seriously; someone could've been killed by a nervous cop.

Where did I argue that they shouldn't? My problem was what they did after they discovered it was not a real gun.

They are now prosecuting them on criminal charges.

What if they had had a squirt gun instead of an air-soft gun and the police thought it was a gun? Should they treat them as if they had had a a real gun even though it was just a squirt gun?

Anonymous said...

If any of those guys had been smoking they'd get the death penalty.

Anna Ilona Mussmann said...

Our local paper had a brief article this week about a boy from a local middle school who is facing an expulsion hearing because he accidentally brought an airsoft "gun" to school, and turned it over to a security guard when he realized that it was in his backpack. Magnanimously, the school said that he will probably be cited for causing a "disturbance" instead of for carrying a weapon.

It's fascinating, in a sad way, how dominant these policies are becoming. Institutions and even police departments cause less and less surprise when they apply broad policies in the same way to every situation instead of exercising what most people would consider common sense. Does this mean that because fewer people trust each other, it begins to seem better not to let official individuals make judgement calls?

KyCobb said...

Martin,

"What if they had had a squirt gun instead of an air-soft gun and the police thought it was a gun? Should they treat them as if they had had a real gun even though it was just a squirt gun?"

They shouldn't. My point is that there was a very real risk that someone could've been shot dead by the cops. Squirt guns typically aren't going to make a noise that sounds like shots being fired, and they usually look very different from real guns.

Anonymous said...

These guys are now going to be prosecuted by the Fayette County DA. KyCobb is probably fine with that, too.

KyCobb said...

Anonymous,

What part of somebody could've been killed by a panicky cop do you don't understand?

Anonymous said...

Maybe one answer is to rid ourselves of as many panicky cops as possible. Were these players shooting at themselves or others just walking by on campus? I ask this because if they were just messing with each other I can only imagine the call to police...shots fired, silencers used and no one is falling down even though shots are being fired from point blank range. Please send cops, but no panicky ones, please.

Anonymous said...

According to UK's own code, these young men are not guilty, your honor.