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Thoughts on Gunn incident & teaching good judgement

Original post made by Bru, Crescent Park, on May 28, 2010

I think the question asked in another forum of what should the Gunn student with the airgun in his car have done is a very good one, and a discussion and exploration of that would be very benficial for everyone.

To me it is a bit like what do you do if you are about to miss your exit while you are driving. Some people swerve in traffic at the last minute in front of others, or some even stop and back up on the freeway to not miss their exit and actually put people's lives at risk because they do not think and exercise good judgement. For me, I just miss my exit and turn around at the next exit, and it makes me irate to see people risking other people's lives to save a minute or two of driving. We have a colossal failure or misunderstanding of what constitutes good judgement, and whether good judgement is just an optional suggestion or not in this country.

For this kid, why not immediately get in your car and drive home and deposit the gun off-campus? Yes, you might be late for class, but the problem has already happened? Not only is it illegal to bring a weapon on campus, but it is also illegal to drive with one in your car where you can reach it. What should he have done?

Maybe the police could give us an answer as to the best alternative for this - I'm just guessing or trying to think what I would do. I just would not let myself get into this situation to begin with. Is it too much to expect people to mindful of what they are doing at all times?

Any other thoughts on this?

Comments (89)

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 28, 2010 at 11:45 am

The question should really be, why have the airgun in the car at all? I would imagine that something like that should always be transported in the trunk rather than the car.

Also, I believe there were other things in the trunk which could be considered dangerous and unwanted on a high school campus.

If we get into the habit of making sensible precautions with potentially dangerous items, then we are less likely to need plan B scenarios.


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Posted by another parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 28, 2010 at 11:52 am

I agree that the young man should have gone back home with the gun (and the combat knife and the hatchet). Bringing any of these onto the school grounds is a crime. Carrying it openly enough that people called the police is especially a problem.


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Posted by Bru
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 28, 2010 at 11:58 am

Bru is a registered user.

Parent, totally agree with you, it should have never been in the car at all, always in the trunk. But once that smaller mistake is make, what is the result in time as mistakes have the propensity to multiply and get bigger. In this book "Outliers" Malcolm Gladwell dissects a typical airplane crash as the results of on average 14 or so mistakes made that build on each other. This is what judgement is made of, and how can we teach not just children but adults to recognize when they have done something that might contribute to later disaster or problems?

In America we have a kind of excited live dangerously ethos that if very pervasive. Oh, I forget and dropped my airgun in my car ... it's OK, no one will notice, until pretty soon we get lax and it leads to something like this. The investment of a little time, thought and action early on and not making fun of that, and in fact encouraging it could save a lot of money, lives, times, and inconvenience.

After all, what is the problem in the Gulf of Mexico right now but the bypassing of good judgement in putting a shutoff valve on that oil drilling rig? We have to realize that this image in the movies of Americans as inrestrained whiny children needs to be dropped. Being responsible is not a downer, or a bummer, it makes a lot of sense.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 28, 2010 at 12:10 pm

Given the following headlines:

"Rifle-toting Gunn student, 18, arrested in Palo Alto
Other weapons, including military style knife, were found in car"

it sounds crazy that the student proceeded to put the airsoft gun in his trunk. What if the headline read, "Eagle scout found with *camping gear* and faux weapon" instead? This has just been a completely out of hand over-reaction. I wonder if student dramas ever do Shakespeare anymore? Usually some fake swords needed. You know, baseball bats have been held to be weapons *in context*. And baseball players take them in and out of their trunks in that same lot all the time. Schools, law enforcement, and some students seem to have lost the ability to use *context* in such a situation.

Yes, the student was lacking in common sense, but, the current, over-reacting "Code Red" process is also dangerous and lacking in common sense-- for one thing, the information that it was a toy gun (heavens, I used to play with these myself when I was a kid!) got lost along the way, leaving everyone's imagination stuck on high alert. What an embarrassment.

Common sense, people.

Next time, anyone who makes this mistake will turn around and drive away. Most everyone agrees, now, that this is what should have happened. Others seem to want to vilify anyone who has ever touched an toy gun.

By the way, parents are advised to never carry camping gear or kitchen paraphernalia in the cars when dropping off and picking up.


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Posted by Bru
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 28, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Bru is a registered user.

Anon from Another Palo Alto Neighborhood, ... let's leave whatifs out of it for the sake of trying to actually have a discussion instead of trying to fly off into the ozone.

If you think the reaction was over the top, what specifically would you have done or think the police should have done differently, and stick to the facts please - don't forget to detail the possible downside of things if you were wrong. You do not have the monopoly on common sense believe it or not.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 28, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Bru--

Sure, simple.

0) If a teacher first reported it -- I am amazed that a teacher would not recognize an airsoft gun. Any teacher who doesn't know what they look like should stop by Big Five this weekend. IF the "weapon" is KNOWN to be an airsoft weapon [that may or may not have been possible to determine] it is vital information that should have determined an entirely different outcome. If unknown:

1) Secure the vehicle - leave someone guarding it.

2) Find out the driver of the vehicle. (They did this).

3) Request the driver come to the office over PA/and/or call driver's cell phone (probably has one).

4) Driver accompanies officer back to vehicle to examine "weapon". "Suspect" likely very cooperative and embarrassed. No handcuffs necessary.

5) Parent already on the way. Officer discusses disposition of camping gear and airsoft with parent.

6) At no time are other students told *at gunpoint* [many witnesses to this] to re-enter campus buildings. Think about this last. IF, there is a remote chance that there is a real incident, you are forcing the students to re-enter a dangerous area. I understand that the idea is to try to ensure that the perpetrator doesn't sneak out unarmed, but, the logic for doing this is extremely weak in this situation. They already know, or will soon know, exactly who it is. It is unlikely that they are armed, but, if they are, what is the probability that someone will get hurt using the Code Red vs simply attempting to apprehend the individual? As we saw, most of the participants, including police called in, did not have the original information. With a report of gunfire, as has happened many times in the past, people lacking information become trigger happy. [This is a major cause of friendly-fire casualties -- e.g. Pat Tilman.]

*Context is everything*. People should use their judgement, rather than following "You can't be too safe" procedures which actually *created danger*.






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Posted by Me Too
a resident of Midtown
on May 28, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Anon, I disagree.

0) Whoever reported it clearly did not know it was an Airsoft gun or was not certain (which sounds hard to do, observing a moving vehicle). Maybe you think they should, but they did not.

1) Who is supposed to secure the vehicle - the witness? Now they have put themselves in harm's way and failed to report a potential serious risk. Do you really want to put witnesses (teachers, passersby, other kids) in a position of determining whether or not an attack is imminent, and to personally secure the weapons from the potential attackers? If the witness is supposed to "get help" - how, when, from who, other than called PAPD? And who watches the guns in the meantime?

2/3) If the driver is in fact planning an imminent assault, do they respond to the page and accompany the officer? Or do they start the attack and/or alert confederates to do so?

Since we have to put in procedures that don't require much judgment from non-professionals and err on the side of caution, I don't see how your proposal would work. As the man who spotted the Times Square car bomb said, "See something, say something." I think that pretty much sums it up.



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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 28, 2010 at 1:33 pm

Me Too -- I guess we will have to agree to disagree. I have to get back to my chores.

Please ask yourself this -- was there ever any indication of a threat on the part of the student? If you think that doesn't matter, then, frankly, there is no limit to the number of crimes that might happen anywhere, anytime.

But, there is a natural limit on how safe you can be. People make mistakes- including police officers. Any time you call a small army of policeman into an area with reports of weapons and possible gunfire, mistakes may happen. The procedures we follow should not, on average, create more danger than they alleviate.


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Posted by Bru
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 28, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Anon ... you have some thought behind your ideas, but the police have to consider what if worst case scenario. Secure the vehicle, yes, if they can find it, but asking the owner to come to the office could be a tip off to possible perpetrators. The police have to be very strategic in case this is a real situation. For the same reason they ask people to stay off their cell phones because cellphones can coordinate action against them.

In a case where maybe the least we can agree on is that there are may ways to view it, I found it kind of offensive when on other boards people second guess and criticize the police at the drop of a hat without information, without thinking, and without having substantial rationality behind them.

I don't think any of the police had bad intentions of wanted to take any longer with this operation than they had to, they just do not know and have to be very careful and follow procedures that may even in some cases not be perfect, but state of the art at the time.

I think if someone came up with a better idea, they'd love to hear it, consider it, test it and implement it if it made their jobs easier and increased public safety, but that's just my best guess.

I do agree with you that mistakes can happen, that is why it is incumbent on people to think about their actions. The policeman who shot the man in the Oakland BART station is probably a good example of a very regrettable mistake along this line.


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Posted by thankyou...
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 28, 2010 at 8:12 pm

my thoughts are simple. thank you PAPD.


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Posted by Midtown Parent
a resident of Midtown
on May 29, 2010 at 3:34 pm

As I remember Skelly said in his letter to parents "At no point were students in danger" so why did they call it a "Red Code" There was no point to put our students through that. Especially when some of them were already leaving. Whey did they have to call students back into classrooms? If it was a real thing, this action could have put our students in more danger. What they should have done is tell students to immediately leave campus. In these situations the more students leave campus the better. Because the further they are from the dangerous zone the safer they will be. The principal already knew that the "weapon" was inside the car, the student was not pointing it to anyone. Gunn students were just slowly healing from the suicides, and not the principal put them though this. I do agree with Anon, there were other ways to handle this. calling the police and giving description of the car and suspect was more than enough. No need to do the rest. By the way I was told by a student that the teachers are supposed to know a code when they get locked inside and later police comes around asking if they are ok. Well this teacher did not know the code and gave the wrong answer and the opened the door with a lot of force. They do this to disrupt the person, who might be holding people as hostages. The teachers are supposed to say the answers wrong only if they need help. I hope this serve as a drill and the principals goes back and practice with every teacher including possible substitutes (who are different every day), so students are not put under more trauma, when it is not necessary.
The student who took the air soft gun did a mistake, but watch how he is going to be crucified for it both by the school administrator and the police. But when students or teachers bully others nothing is done. It is as some school administrators call it: a child's thing.
Good Luck to this student. It really breaks my heart that he is going to learn the hard way. I hope he gets the mental help he needs to deal with this issue.


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Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on May 29, 2010 at 4:08 pm

I have never see one of these airguns, and hope never to. What are they used for? Why would a teenager be riding around with one in the car? If they can put an eye out, are they not weapons? Are his parents aware that he is driving around with knives, hatchets, and airguns? He was presumably going to school, not into the woods.

It is a shame that this kid's supreme lack of judgement lead to putting his school on lockdown and traumatizing his fellow students. I have to commend the police for their actions. They had no idea what sort of situation they would find at the school, and they appeared to do a wonderful job.


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Posted by Bru.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 29, 2010 at 4:37 pm

Midtown Parent, my interpretation of the first remark is that it was "looking backward". They cannot know ahead of time there is no danger or they would not even have to show up.

You appear to want to jump to conclusions. Just because they found "a" weapon in the car, does not mean there was not another, "real" one on campus.

It would be nice of the Police could step through their thinking and their precedent, but I think there are problems with this too. If they are too open or predictable a real shooter would know how to counter their strategies. And whatever they say someone is going to be shooting criticisms from the sidelines.

I think criticism is important, in fact it's even important sometimes to just complain or blather, it can lead to some thought, it just seems so unproductive and chaotic in Palo Alto and often the same voices with the same axes to grind.

I imagine that the police and school will learn from this experience.

Nora, the airguns are used by kids who play wargames and shoot at each other. Before that it was laser tag. There are just certain people who love to do that kind of thing, and it is their rights to do it. It's not a right to carry the gun or paraphenalia around at a school or brandish it at people. This cowboy attitude that we seem to see so much of in America leads to people thinking its cool to do such things and call the responsible members of society or the police killjoys or stupid. All in all this seems to have gone by about as smoothly as it could have.

When I was in high-school most people walked or biked to school. We were thinner, in better shape, and no one packed a gun or a knife.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 29, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Posted by Nora Charles, a resident of Stanford, writes:

"I have never see one of these airguns, and hope never to. (1) What are they used for? Why would a teenager be riding around with one in the car? If they can put an eye out, are they not weapons? Are his parents aware that he is driving around with knives, hatchets, (2) and airguns? He was presumably going to school, not into the woods. (2)"

1) Go to Big Five or Sports Authority to see some. Lots of models on display. You may disapprove of 'military play', but, the fact is, these are a fact of life, and parents and teachers should know that.

2) The kid is a scout and goes camping. Rumor has it he was going camping this weekend. People who go camping very often carry such gear.


"It is a shame that this kid's supreme lack of judgement (1) lead to putting his school on lockdown and traumatizing his fellow students."

1) No. That would be, e.g., drunk driving.

"I have to commend the police for their actions. They had no idea what sort of situation they would find at the school,(1) and they appeared to do a wonderful job."

1) If true, that would be evidence for a major screw-up, since they started with the information they needed. Apparently, that information was not communicated very effectively.

The reality is that, just like "Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM", nobody ever gets fired for over-reacting. You can't prove they over-reacted unless someone gets killed. But, if the students are telling the truth, then some were ordered back into school buildings *at gunpoint*. I want to know if that is true or not. I consider that significant information.




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Posted by andreas
a resident of Ventura
on May 30, 2010 at 10:22 am

I don't see that the student can be prosecuted. Guns are illegal, yes, but it's not a gun. It's a toy.

The court is going to have to release him. A counter-lawsuit for false arrest is possible.

This goes to show how timid the USA has become. When I was a kid in the 60s, nearly every boy carried a large pocketknife. If a kid has a pocketknife today, a SWAT team is called.

This has gone too far. We're searched and must prove our IDs before boarding an airplane. Not even a penknife is allowed. The USSR did not have this level of control over its citizens.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 30, 2010 at 10:36 am

Andreas, funny that you say the US is timid when we are involved in two foreign wars, and there is virtually nothing on TV but violence and murder.

There are a lot of cases where the law is abused, but that is quite another thing, and it is usually because of money. We have no become timid, we have become corrupt and morally bankrupt perhaps, more like the USSR than you want to admit.

I was a kid in Texas the 60's and boys did not carry pocketknives, especially large pocketknives, and especially to school - or the kind of kid that did that was looked at as a delinquent. Yes, there was not the reaction there is today, and this was not a pocketknife by the way, it was a gun, because there were not large scale assaults on schools and institutions.

But I think you do have a point in that let's say that the police do nothing or their efforts are undermined by the courts as you say. Let's say that there are some kids who want to take advantage of this situation and decide to bring toy guns to school to make the police look like fools. What can they do? Our laws are inconsistent in that way. They are inconsistently enforced because of money. If it is young George W. Bush who does something like this, it has to be hushed up enough so that it is forgotten by the time he wants to run for President, and I think we have plenty of the type here in Palo Alto, maybe even at Gunn.

Since the kid is rich enough to afford a car and an expensive hobby maybe his parents can afford a good lawyer can frame the issue to the court as you have tried to here to make it look like the kid did nothing. Besides the issue here is not necessarily to punish the kid, I'm sure he's not really happy about this experience, at least I hope not.


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Posted by Bruce Li
a resident of Barron Park
on May 30, 2010 at 10:36 am

Unfortunately some times young adults and adults in general use poor judgement and there are severe consequences, which appears to have occurred in this incident. I suggest parents talk with their kids about the fact it is illegal to bring weapons to school, just as we would discuss the illegality of driving drunk or doing drugs. Yet some will still make a mistake and suffer the consequences. Hopefully this error in judgement will have set an example for the remaining Gunn kids so it won't happen again. Oh, and for all of you naive people that think the Gunn staff or cops overreacted. Don't forget about Columbine, last year's San Mateo incident and the myriad of other school shootings. Would you rather have the witness who saw the boys driving onto the school ground w/the rifle assume it was fake and not notify the police. What if it were real it could have been catastrophic. If you don't know what an "air soft" replica gun looks like do a web search and you will not be able to tell the difference from real gun. Do you want to be in the position to make the call on whether its real or not.....


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Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 30, 2010 at 10:46 am

Bruce Li, I really question in this day and age whether any high school level child does not know it is illegal to bring firearms or weapons to school - and why? Having parents talk to kids today seems pretty ineffective, particularly for the kinds of parents we see today who will grab a lawyer and take the school to court to avoid their kids having to accept the consequences of their actions.

You say the young adults AND ADULTS used poor judgement. What do you think the adults they should have done? You are not critical as some of the police so maybe I misunderstand your point.

Whether this sets and example for Gunn kids remains to be seen. I agree with you that sometimes consequences are large for small actions due to misunderstandings, but it is the responsibility of citizens to look after themselves, the actions and their possessions and their children to avoid this.


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Posted by accept responsibility
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 30, 2010 at 10:51 am

This young man needs to show some leadership and accept responsibility for his mistake. Quit blaming the school for being paranoid or Boy Scout leaders for not teaching him about the place for weapons. If he is a first time offender, he should be able to work out a plea deal and serve his sentence with community service instead of prison time. Then he can get on with his life next year.


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Posted by andreas
a resident of Ventura
on May 30, 2010 at 1:32 pm

The student did not bring a gun to school.
The student did not bring a rifle to school.
The student did not bring a weapon to school.

He had a toy. It's just a toy.

Read the law. The California Gun Free School Zone Act of 1995:

Web Link

A firearm is a pistol, shotgun, or rifle. Toys (and replicas) are not mentioned in the law and therefore not covered by that law.

There is no legislation that controls Airsoft toys. Anyone can buy one, without any form of control. Therefore, these are toys, not guns.

Charges will be dropped. Or the judge will dismiss the charges. The student can easily counter-sue for false arrest.




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Posted by Deep Throat
a resident of another community
on May 30, 2010 at 1:41 pm

If the police need such a large response to an incident of this kind, how can the City Council vote to reduce the number of police officers when it adopts the annual budget in June?


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Posted by Midtown Parent
a resident of Midtown
on May 30, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Luckily the student was other than hispanic or African American, otherwise he will be doomed. He will be expelled, no graduation and he will spend sometime in jail. And the administrators will not learn a lesson about how they reacted.


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Posted by Latino
a resident of Barron Park
on May 30, 2010 at 2:35 pm

We said the same thing last night at dinner. If the kid had been Black or Latino, it'd be over for him.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by robit noops
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 30, 2010 at 3:32 pm

I think the school and police action was justified. Regardless if it was an air rifle, too many mentally unstable people have gone ballistic in the past to rule out the potential for violence. Plenty of people have been shot in the past for replica weapons as well. Toy or not, dont leave it up to somebody else to determine.

The kid wont go to jail, but hopefully he will end up with a lot of community service hours. And a lesson in exercising better judgement.


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Posted by mjm
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 30, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Code Red is only announced if an active shooter is on campus. In this case, the sighting of the "gun", and reports of gunfire in the Los Robles area (behind Gunn) were enough for the police to take the threat seriously and call the code red--it is the police dept who calls the code. The school district practices for Code Red situations: Web Link

Andreas, Each School district develops policies to adhere to and implement saftey plans set by law. Your web link was the implementation by the UC system for Colleges and Universities. This does not deal with implementation at K-12 schools. These regulations are spelled out in the schools handbooks which are given to parents and students.

From the time our kids start school, they are taught not to bring toy weapons to school. The most common time is at Haloween when toy props have to be left at home. Starting in Middle School, the students have to sign a form (before they can officially start the school year) that they have read, understood, and agreed to the rules in the Student Handbook. Here are excerpts from Terman , JLS and Gunn on toy weapons. It is pretty clear. No TOY weapons EVER.

From Terman Middle School Student Handbook:
"Items that are never allowed include:
* Matches, lighters, spray cans, laser pointers, drugs, alcohol, tobacco products, look-alike drugs or cigarettes, weapons and/or dangerous objects, such as poppers, imitation weapons and/or imitation dangerous objects, water balloons, squirt guns and other water toys."

JLS Middle School Handbook page 26:
"PROHIBITED AND RESTRICTED ITEMS:
Weapons/dangerous items including: guns of any kind (play, water, cap, squirt, imitation firearms, toys that look like guns, BB guns, pellet guns) and knives of any kind including: locking, pocket of any size, switch blade, Swiss Army, steak etc. These items may be confiscated. Any weapons or illegal, dangerous items or substances brought to school will lead to immediate discipline and/or police action."

GUNN STUDENT HANDBOOK--page 23/24:
"Weapons/Dangerous Objects: Firearms, knives, explosives, fireworks, sharp objects, BB, Pellet or look-alike guns, paint ball guns or any other dangerous objects may not be brought onto campus. School actions include suspension, police notification and a recommendation for expulsion from the school district.

Inappropriate Objects: Objects that are not directly related to a classroom project or assignment and approved by a staff member are not permitted on the campus. This may include but is not limited to:
lighters, matches, sharp objects, laser pointers, noise makers, water balloons, squirt guns, paint balls,eggs, etc. The presence of inappropriate objects can create a disruption. A student who brings an object to the campus is responsible for the object brought onto the campus."

Gunn Teacher Handbook: page 31
"INAPPROPRIATE OR DANGEROUS OBJECTS
All staff members have an obligation to intervene if they witness an unsafe, dangerous or violent situation. Items that do not have direct and approved classroom application are prohibited on the campus at all times. Approved items, when misused present an unsafe situation for all. Professional judgement in regard to the safety and well-being of students prevails. Students who possess or misuse items should have the item(s) immediately confiscated. New laws and
Board Policy officially allow students to possess items like cell phones and pagers on the campus. While in class, cell phones and pagers are to be turned off and out of sight. These objects are not allowed to interfere or detract with instruction and learning at any time.

Other examples of inappropriate items include, but are not limited to, lighter and matches, knives, razor blades, sharp objects, dangerous or explosive items, laser pointers, paint balls, firearms or imitation firearms, squirt guns, water balloons, markers (when not for specific class project), drugs, alcohol, tobacco products, vulgar or obscene objects, and items representing/depicting a crime, violence or drug/alcohol use."

Even if the items are in the trunk of the car, it is still considered on campus. So the rule is the inappropriate items should ALWAYS be left at home. To be honest, my kids never really read the handbook, but signed the paper anyway. But I did read it and I went over the important itmes with them--shortened down the 40+ pages to key elements.

Anon:
"But, if the students are telling the truth, then some were ordered back into school buildings *at gunpoint*. I want to know if that is true or not. I consider that significant information."

I was in a car at the gym at 2:00 (reading) waiting to pick up my kid and saw the whole thing unfold. Kids started coming out of class and police were suddenly there, ordering (all police seem to use a certain loud voice and low pitch to be heard and obeyed without question--think Jack Bauer without the attitude) all kids inside buildings. Some police had weapons out--automatic rifles pointing down and slung across their chest. I did not see any handguns drawn. One kid came out of the gym and was immediately ordered to get back inside (and the cop had to yell a second time "I said get inside") As the doors were all locked, the kid was escorted back to a "safe" location (under armed protection) while the assistant principal who was working a sweep with the police unlocked a door for the student to get back inside. I can see where kids would freak at this behavior, but in no case did I see police point a gun at a kid or threaten--though they did shout very loudly. They spent a long time in the parking lot around a certain car and then went to back to the buildings (again with the assistant principal). Then they came over to the cars and told us we had to leave--they didn't want anyone other than police on campus--that's when I got concerned for my own safety. (I think that was when they got the incorrect report from a parent of a student being held at gunpoint).

In all, the police were very professional. Their job is to take every threat as real untill proven otherwise and they did a great job!

By the way, they called in Stanford, Mtn. View, and police from other towns--there must have been 15+ police cars on or around Gunn(Arastradero, Miranda), plus motorcycle patrol.


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Posted by Bruce Li
a resident of Barron Park
on May 30, 2010 at 4:02 pm

Anon, you are correct in that I am not being critical of the police response at all. My understanding is the police and Gunn staff did an excellent job in response to what was reported. I was only saying that we all make mistakes by using poor judgement and must live with the consequences....


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Posted by T. Rollins
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 30, 2010 at 4:36 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by andreas
a resident of Ventura
on May 30, 2010 at 4:39 pm

MJM,

"The California Gun Free School Zone Act of 1995" (to which I linked above) is the law (not advisory or guideline) under which someone can be prosecuted for guns on campus (both university and schools).

There apparently is NO law that prohibits toy guns at schools.

As MJM points out, the GUNN STUDENT HANDBOOK (page 23/24) states: "Weapons/Dangerous Objects: Firearms, knives, explosives, fireworks, sharp objects, BB, Pellet or look-alike guns, paint ball guns or any other dangerous objects may not be brought onto campus. School actions include suspension, police notification and a recommendation for expulsion from the school district.

That's the school's regulations. It covers "look-alike guns". Note the penalties: "suspension, police notification and a recommendation for expulsion." This does not include arrest or criminal prosecution, because it's a school rule, not a legal rule. At worse, he can be expelled.

Thanks, MJM, for finding that.

Gunn High School's lawyers and the City lawyers had better start figuring out how to back down from the arrest. The student can't be prosecuted. The charges will have to be dropped. And they'd better allow him to graduate along with his class to avoid a larger lawsuit.



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Posted by Midtown Parent
a resident of Midtown
on May 30, 2010 at 4:50 pm

I am angry to hear what is happening to this kid, who made a wrong decision but who did not hurt anybody. And if kids were traumatized, was because the poor decision of the administrators. I really want to know who calls the "Red Code" police or School. Once the police was called because a child was suicidal at the tracks and they did not even bother to show up or come or follow through. Now the schools call and they sent so many people. Kids get seriously bully, and nothing is done. They only apply their punishment when they want to. Whoever feels that what they are doing is wrong, should let their voices know. I will be e-mailing the superintendent, board members, and school administrators.


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Posted by MJM
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 30, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Midtown Parent

The police call the code red. The school administrators did not notify the police. You have to understand that the school does not order the police--the school works with the police and surrenders authority to the police in situations of danger (as it should be). Someone (I think the paper said it was a city employee) saw the convertible car on Arastradero with a young man (passenger) holding what looked like a rifle and saw that it turned into the Gunn parking lot (campus) and called the police. And I hope we all would do the same thing--safety of our kids is primary!

I don't think the kid should get jail time or a record. What he did was wrong. But I don't think he should be expelled and he should get his diploma, but he should not be allowed to walk with his class--there has to be personal consequences. If there is no record, he should still be able to go to Cornell.

The handbook also covers pranks which was put in place to discourage Senior Pranks (like the upsdie down car at Paly a couple of years ago). Page 35 of the Handbook:
"Pranks: Behavior, including speech, which is disruptive to the educational process is prohibited; and activities which are dangerous, destructive, disruptive, disrespectful or demeaning are not acceptable on campus. Students involved in such activities are subject to disciplinary action. Police may be called to investigate
illegal activities. When there is a cost involved in a senior "prank" and the school is unable to determine the individuals involved, the cost is charged to the senior class. As a consequence for being involved in such activities, students may be barred from participation in field trips, extra-curricular activities, school
functions, including commencement and graduation activities."

While what he did was not intentional, it did cause a major disruption of the school--4 law enforcement agencies to respond, teachers to "work overtime" (don't know if they have to be paid) at great expense to the city and maybe the school district, to say nothing to the fear imposed on the students and parents. There should be SOME consequence for his poor lack of judgement--not just a slap on the hand (as many people advocate)--maybe some amount of required community service or fine (to cover some of the cost).


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Posted by Me Too
a resident of Midtown
on May 30, 2010 at 6:51 pm

It will be interesting to see what the criminal violation is. The boy was clearly in violation of school regs, so the school can do what they please under the educational code. If expulsion is the decision, so be it.

In terms of criminal offenses, possessing an airsoft "in a public place" is an infraction (first and second offense) - carrying it openly in a car would probably qualify. But that by itself won't likely land you in jail.

I don't think the school district lawyers are too worried - the school didn't do anything, apparently not even call the police. Someone else called the police, and the school simply followed procedures from there. But I am curious what the boy is being held for.


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Posted by mjm
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 30, 2010 at 8:25 pm

For information on the dangers of toy guns and police action, see the following website.

Web Link


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Posted by Bru
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 30, 2010 at 8:55 pm

It would be interesting to know the attitude of the student involved. Whether he thinks it was a stupid joke and is belligerent towards to the school and the police or whether he realizes he did something wrong and did not show good decision making, and is contrite.

Maybe he should figure out his own punishment and offer something to the school as an apology. This is an important situation, though basically a misunderstanding that affected many people and could have led to larger problems.

it is really quite a learning experience for the school and even the city about thinking and being considerate of the possible affects of your actions. I would hate to see the city/police and the school do nothing, just as I would hate to see them over-react. It's important that this not be laughed off or for the city/police to look they can be bullied around for doing what they had to in order to protect the public safety.

It's a tough call, and making light of it or saying the student/family can sue for false arrest is really not helpful. I would not want to be associated of go out of my way for a family or student that took such an action over an incident they basically caused. I hope calm heads prevail and there is a rational action taken.

What do readers think? What would be an appropriate reaction to this situation. Maybe the student himself could be sentenced to research the incident and write a paper on what he learned and get it published in Palo Alto Online for an even more enlightening discussion?


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Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Ventura
on May 30, 2010 at 8:55 pm

It is ILLEGAL to posses these guns in Palo Alto:

The Palo Alto Municipal Code, 9.08.010, prohibits adults as well as minors to possess, discharge or fire an air rifle, air-gun, BB gun or pellet gun by means of elastic force, such as sling shots, by air, gas or any explosive substance. These weapon replicas are all referred to as "firearms."

Check out the picture of this so-called "toy":
Web Link

Scary!


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Posted by paly alum
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 30, 2010 at 9:26 pm

Every reasonably educated student, or one with a baseline level of common sense or — even if those two criteria do not apply — one with merely a limited understanding of the school code knows you don't bring guns, knives, gun look-alikes, etc. to school. If you inadvertently do so, logic would dictate you should immediately hide it upon discovery and then a) take it home right away, or b) wait until school is over, then take it home. Really simple, yet this student was playing with an airsoft rifle in the front seat of his car which also included a hatchet and other weapons.

It's hard for me to think this student should get anything other than expulsion. If the school district does not expel him, the precedent set would be a nightmare. Imagine students trying to play on subjective arguments (I'm a senior and so close to graduating) and then getting away with them in light of explicitly clear policy barring such actions. There should be no questions on punishment. Playing with a gun look-alike in the front seat of a 2000+ student high school parking lot is idiotic and unfortunately an exceedingly dumb mistake that merits consequences as outlined in the Gunn student handbook.

Andreas, you clearly do not understand the situation/California Law. I think you would be hard pressed to find a reasonably competent lawyer who could argue the district is liable for a countersuit. As a previous reader mentioned University of California (a post-K-12 SYSTEM) regulations do not apply to PAUSD (a K-12 system), moreover this action (the arrest) was done independent of the school district.

Everyone except for the student did the right thing in what could have been an unfathomably terrible situation. Props to Gunn high school's students and administrators, and the PAPD and other surrounding police units.


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Posted by Bru
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 30, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Excellent points Paly Alum ... by the way I am a Paly Alum as well. I would leave the opportunity open for a responsible authority to take the student's attitude and reaction into consideration. I would expect these days it would be pretty bad and thus your reaction probably appropriate, but there should be room for a kid to admit his mistake, apologize, and then offer some compensatory public service. Precedent is extremely important, you are right.

The threat of countersuits are really bad judgement and action on the part of someone defending a student who made this mistake. If any judge allowed that it would be extremely disappointing, talking about precedent, we do not need a system that is trying to protect people from the insanity that sometimes occurs in our country to be attacked or punished for doing what we all need it to do.


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Posted by gunnhsstudent
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 31, 2010 at 1:18 am

The students are with Weston. We continue to mistrust the administration. That statement they released to us on Friday was horrible, everyone laughed.


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Posted by Bru
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 31, 2010 at 1:32 am

gunnhsstudent: That is a broad fuzzy comment, can you elaborate clearly and explain your facts and reasoning please. Did someone elect you to speak for all students?


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Posted by gunnhsstudent
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 31, 2010 at 1:39 am

We can wait and have other Gunn students write on this board who disagree with me. Or, come to Gunn and ask students their thoughts.


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Posted by Law check
a resident of another community
on May 31, 2010 at 7:55 am

Andreas,

You said the charges will be dropped and the student should sue because he didn't violate any crime. In reality, he was arrested for California Penal Code 626.10 which he violated in not only bringing the Airsoft rifle to school, but ALSO the knife. That section reads:

626.10. (a) (1) Any person, except a duly appointed peace officer
as defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of
Part 2, a full-time paid peace officer of another state or the
federal government who is carrying out official duties while in this
state, a person summoned by any officer to assist in making arrests
or preserving the peace while the person is actually engaged in
assisting any officer, or a member of the military forces of this
state or the United States who is engaged in the performance of his
or her duties, who brings or possesses any dirk, dagger, ice pick,
knife having a blade longer than 2 1/2 inches, folding knife with a
blade that locks into place, razor with an unguarded blade, taser, or
stun gun, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 244.5, any
instrument that expels a metallic projectile such as a BB or a
pellet, through the force of air pressure, CO2 pressure, or spring
action, or any spot marker gun, upon the grounds of, or within, any
public or private school providing instruction in kindergarten or any
of grades 1 to 12, inclusive, is guilty of a public offense,
punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year,
or by imprisonment in the state prison.

So as you can see, the knife having a blade length of over 2 1/2 inches AND the instrument that expels a pellet through the force of CO2 pressure are both violations. The charge can either be a misdemeanor (punishable by a fine or county jail) or a felony (punishable in state prison.) If the student doesn't have a criminal record most courts will prosecute him for the misdemeanor section.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 31, 2010 at 8:42 am

What strikes me from these posts is that we really have a lot of students who seem to act first and think later in both our high schools. From the egg wars, to student pranks to this episode, we have students making poor judgment calls and others who will back them up and stand by their peers, while the adults just forget what it is like to be young so lay blame and demand penalty.

The strange thing is that even parents and administrators are suprised by this and don't expect students to do things that could, with hindsight, be called stupid. However, teenagers have been doing this for some time and even in our generation we can remember ourselves or our peers doing things without much forethought.

Parents are expected to both prepare and warn their offspring for any and every eventuality and yet give them independence and privacy. Where one ends and the other begins is a very fine line and one of the biggest problems parents face. Most parents are unprepared for this through study or experience and doing the best job they feel they can.

The trouble nowadays is that there are so many consequences and potential disasters with any irrational action by an immature teenager (and yes 18 is still a teenager). What used to be a prank now draws severe criticism, and poor judgment now gets a teen thrown in jail.

We are expecting our young people to grow up without being able to make adolescent mistakes. We are expecting a code of behavior which is very different to what we ourselves did back in our youth. We are expecting our kids to grow up without going through the difficult years of youth, a time of stretching the boundaries, feeling invincible, and experimenting with independent ideas.

So who is it really that is making the big mistakes? On the one hand, we want our young people to become the movers and shakers of the next generation. We want them to be leaders, free thinkers, innovaters and responsible adults raising their kids to become the same. But, we also give them so many rules, protect them from any possible threat of bodily harm to themselves or others, and end up taking away so many of the opportunities for them to learn from their mistakes or take a few chances in life. Much of this is probably the right way to do things; driving restrictions for rookie drivers is a good example of this. But we must ask ourselves to what extent we are becoming over protective?

Airsoft guns, lazerquest and paintball, in the right venues with the right parameters, are ways in which young men in particular can use some of their inherent hormonal fighting instincts in a safe manner. Likewise, video games and bumper cars. Fighting in the playground used to be the place to do this but now we, in our wisdom, frown on this and do all in our power to prevent it. Old values of survival of the fittest and standing up for oneself have been taken away with concerns about bullying and replaced with talking it out solutions. Even replacing pickup sports games with well orchestrated youth leagues takes away the kids' abilities of solving their own problems. The movie "The Sand Lot" about a group of kids growing up through solving their own baseball game problems just could not happen today.

All of this may make a lot of sense, but at the same time I wonder what sort of adults this generation is going to become. Are we raising a generation of weak individuals whose only solution is to lay the blame elsewhere or resort to the power of lawyers and checkbooks? Are we allowing ourselves and subsequent generations to be meekly devoid of all self survival instincts? Are we protecting our kids from life?

In this age of horrific terrorism and its consequences, it seems right to bring in more and more rules to protect society as a whole and this is the wise thing to do. But it does seem that the innocence of youth is forgotten and punished in a way that would never have happened to us. Learning through our mistakes is no longer a reality. A small mistake can become a crime and better luck next time will no longer be possible.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 31, 2010 at 9:15 am

Law Check -- glad to have some expert advice here. So, you are saying that if a family picks up their child in the parking lot/pickup line on the way to a picnic or barbecue and happens to have some kitchen and/or steak knives in the trunk, the mommy/daddy are guilty of 6-7 (count the knives) felonies and should get 25-life? How about a boy scout troop that meets in the high school parking lot before going camping and they happen to have hunting knives, hatchets, etc. All those boy scout leaders guilty of countless felonies? I haven't studied the law, so, I'm not sure how it works, but, it sure sounds like every parent, sooner or later, commits this same felony. Maybe I'm missing something.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 31, 2010 at 11:26 am

According to Gunn Parent, a resident of the Ventura neighborhood, 14 hours ago:

"It is ILLEGAL to posses these guns in Palo Alto:

"The Palo Alto Municipal Code, 9.08.010, prohibits adults as well as minors to possess, discharge or fire an air rifle, air-gun, BB gun or pellet gun by means of elastic force, such as sling shots, by air, gas or any explosive substance. These weapon replicas are all referred to as "firearms.""

************

Gunn Parent:

We need some legal experts to weigh in here, but, *as I read the code*, what you wrote is clearly incorrect. It is legal to possess such items *at your residence* (or business) and transport them (if done legally-- this is governed by state law for real weapons- and, by state law, a locked trunk is a good place to transport an unloaded weapon as I read the law) to a place where it is legal to discharge them. The only place within the city where it would be legal to discharge them would be at a firing range (if there is one within the city- I'm not sure).

I'm not a lawyer, and I don't play one on the Internet-- this is not legal advice!! -- we need some real legal advice regarding this. So many kids around here go airsofting around here, that we really could use some clarification on this.

Experts, please weigh in.






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Posted by paly grad
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 31, 2010 at 11:42 am

anon - Those are entirely different contexts. If this kid left these things (primarily the airsoft gun) in the trunk and then drove home, we wouldn't be having this debate, the police wouldn't have been called, and thousands of taxpayer-funded dollars wouldn't have been wasted...Yet instead he had the audacity to play with a firearm in the front seat of a car during school hours. I have no sympathy for him.

Re: your counterexample, I'm fairly certain boy scouts are monitored with whatever knives they may have...Prosecutors aren't dumb, nor are they unable to discern different contexts. They can tell the difference between a student brandishing a real gun look alike in the front seat of his car DURING SCHOOL HOURS, and a boy scout troop with measly Swiss army knives or a family with some meat knives (usually people bring plastic anyway) to a barbecue, which almost always would take place at parks anyway...I'm all but certain, in fact, that prosecutors would reasonably be able to discern those groups would a) not likely be on school grounds during school hours in the first place, b) not hold any weapons that any person could perceive as a threat to the school populace

Again, stupid point..and this isn't a generational argument. This kid not only brought all these firearms/knives to school in the 1st place, he then had the stupidity to display one of them (as I said, a gun look-alike) in the front seat of car near the end of school. If you do not advocate anything but expulsion, I cannot dare but wonder what kind of perils you will put future Palo Alto children in ("Johnny didn't mean to carry the gun onto campus...he only took it out to show his friends what he got for his birthday"). Imagine those arguments trying to fly...bringing a gun, or a gun look-alike on campus is a serious crime and one which when sinister people are behind it has literally ruined communities and schools. The right protocol is in place here, now the appropriate consequences need to be given out.


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Posted by robit noops
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 31, 2010 at 11:51 am

It seems from the comments that all these kids are learning is that you can do anything stupid you want without repercussions as long as you lawyer up. I say expel this kid simply on the principal of the matter. I don't feel like spending my tax dollars on a legal staff for a school to defend its actions against some privileged kids.


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Posted by robit noops
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 31, 2010 at 12:06 pm

To Parent. I am not forgetting the adolescent crap I did in my youth. I may have exercised bad judgement, but I was smart enough not to be blatant about it. And when I was young, I wouldn't brandish a toy gun because crack was big in EPA and violent crime was up so we had common sense enough to avoid being mistaken for someone involved in that set.

I saw plenty of handguns on campus in the 80s, so for every stupid kid that brandishes an airsoft rifle in the parking lot, how many kids do you think actually have concealed firearms on campus?


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Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 31, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Essentially those "legalistic" minds that are techically picking at the law about this are ending up undermining the safety of the public. The law for whatever reason is full of holes, fallible and incomplete so they seem to be arguing that whatever bad effects may happen from people carrying toy. replica, or game type weapons is fine and dandy as long as there is no special area of that law that deals with it.

This is indeed our system, and lots of people like it that way, because it means if you can get a good lawyer who knows the ins and outs you need not obey the law or can escape the consequences if you are criminally charged, and there is lots of money to made off the ambiguity.

When our system becomes so complex and top heavy that a clear incident like this cannot be quickly and efficiently put to rest without major foolishness about challenging the very idea of the law, then we have a much bigger problem ... and I submit that is true. Look at all the major screwups in the country and they can all be perceived easily to have a fairly large intersection with what is at this point in history a bad legal system. A bad legal system encourages crime and disrespect, and when one of the first things we see in any posting about crime is how the legal system does not work it's pretty demoralizing ... but I guess not demoralizing enough to let the little criminals go or escape living in terror.

Anyway, attacking the law on this is always possible and often done, but it is not what any of us should be rooting for, unless the results of the law are a travesty, then we'll have kids carrying guns/toys to school for the sheer amusement of testing just how absurd our society has become. Comparatively do students learn more from a dry boring lecture they cannot relate to, or an exciting clearly relevant lesson of social failure like that?

And when the legal questions of the day are driven by populist outrage or corruption is it any wonder we have the Supreme Court that we do and the off the wall decisions that come out of it?


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Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 31, 2010 at 12:16 pm

>> Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

I doubt any lawyers will weigh in here, certainly not by name, if not simply because they believe in nothing but whatever they are paid to believe in. The law has become a political issue, if a lawyer can find that sweet spot between oversimplification and emotional outrage they just have to press the button. Like the guy who lost his temper at the kids who bounced a soccer ball (as it?) off his house and it became a major racial issue. Kids are used to by their parents to flip the bird at the rest of society because of their own unresolved infanticism. I guess it depends on the character and bankaccount of the parents in this case whether we all do this the easy way or the hard way! ;-)


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Posted by robit noops
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 31, 2010 at 12:22 pm

PS. as a kid I didn't play with toy guns, I had a job. I didnt lawyer up and say child labor is unfair, I was more concerned with buying food.


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Posted by Bru
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 31, 2010 at 12:27 pm

> Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
>> The movie "The Sand Lot" about a group of kids growing up through
>> solving their own baseball game problems just could not happen today.

I really found that long sentimental rambling post amusing for how emotional
and kind of dishonest it was. I know you mean well by harping on those
nostaligic feelings of an era gone by ... but remember, the movie "Sandlot"
itself was not real, it was another cinematic nostalgic fantasy designed to
release people from their money in the moviehouse or sell soap.

I did not experience much bullying as a kid, but I had my share, and one or
two experiences of that was watching a fellow student get his face kicked by
another student who happened to be trained in martial arts at a young age.
I don't think anything was learned by anyone except that the aggressor learned
he could use force in situations without an bad effects and instill fear in his
fellow students, none of whom even turned to look at what was going on.
No, those days may have been romantic to you, or maybe you are female and
don't live in that world of male aggression of think it is cute, but I think, I hope
most disagree with that. There is nothing positive in that at all.

I often think back on that event that I still remember vividly to this day, and
I like to think that if I had the sense I have today that whatever the cost I would
have raised a ruckus and jumped on that kid to stop him. I had never seen a
person behave like that and I was stymied. It was like "Lord Of The Flies" for a
split second, and that is why we need to protect kids from the evil inner beast
in man that needs to be tamed, not romanticised - at least not outside of
movies.


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Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 31, 2010 at 12:30 pm

LOL

>> PS. as a kid I didn't play with toy guns, I had a job. I didnt lawyer up and say child labor is unfair, I was more concerned with buying food.

Yeah, I bet.


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Posted by robit noops
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 31, 2010 at 12:50 pm

yes I had a job. I was not living with my parent at 18, so I had to exercise more common sense.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 31, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Paly Grad,

Several people have made the claim that the Palo Alto ordinance unequivocally prohibits possession of airsoft devices, even in a locked trunk. But, the law doesn't read that way to me-- so, I wish people would stop making unsubstantiated legal claims. We need professional legal advice on this. However, I find it odd how many people assert that the law must be enforced in the most harsh and draconian way for a student, but then, when they realize that it might apply to them also, suddenly assert that the prosecutors would surely know the difference between a *real* violation, and, their own minor indiscretion.

I also see that a lot of people have already tried this case in their minds, convicted, and posted the results. Is that "teaching good judgement" ? For example: "Yet instead he had the audacity to play with a firearm in the front seat of a car during school hours. I have no sympathy for him." The rumor I heard was quite different. I wonder what the facts really are?



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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 31, 2010 at 1:03 pm

By robit noops, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood:

"PS. as a kid I didn't play with toy guns, I had a job. I didnt lawyer up and say child labor is unfair, I was more concerned with buying food."

I'm sorry that you had such an unforegiving childhood. I had time to play myself-- thank goodness-- including with toy guns.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 31, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Bru,

I actually had an upbringing like in that movie. It is too bad that it is quite impossible today. The parents would be hauled into court for neglecting their children -- they should have be at Kumon Math instead of playing in the sandlot.


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Posted by robit noops
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 31, 2010 at 1:18 pm

anon- Im talking about high school. If you were still playing with toy guns, sounds like you had some growing up to do.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 31, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Posted by the Anon. who is a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood:

"Essentially those "legalistic" minds that are techically picking at the law about this are ending up undermining the safety of the public. The law for whatever reason is full of holes, fallible and incomplete so they seem to be arguing that whatever bad effects may happen from people carrying toy. replica, or game type weapons is fine and dandy as long as there is no special area of that law that deals with it."

Obviously you think that neither you, nor anyone in your family, will ever make such a mistake. But consider for just one second that maybe owning a toy gun and a camping/hunting knife is not that big a deal-- Is it possible? You know, it used to be that way some years ago, and nobody thought that it undermined the safety of the public then-- in fact, many of the kids holding the toy guns imagined themselves to be policemen when they grew up.

One problem that we have as a society is that we seem to be giving up *"teaching good judgement"* and instead apply blind formulas with "zero tolerance" and "three strikes". I feel like Rip Van Winkle myself -- I fell asleep in the 1950's, and now I am seeing a "Code Red" called for a kid with a toy gun and camping gear. These things creep up on us slowly -- I imagine a cop from the 1950's witnessing the events at Gunn on Thursday -- he would, frankly, find it preposterous. And, I'm imagining a prosecutor and a judge from the 1950's. Even a "hanging judge" would laugh at this. Standards change, I know -- now, I'm sure you feel safer than you did in the 1950's, but, I don't.


At this point, what I'm really concerned about is that the process used on Thursday demonstrates that the known facts-- critical information about what actually was known to have happened, was never communicated to many officers who showed up, and when false information was communicated (gunfire, hostage), situations arose that endangered the students that were supposed to be being protected in the first place. **That communication process has to be improved.**




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Posted by hunter
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 31, 2010 at 1:50 pm

a kid with a gun a knife and a shovel. you could draw the conclusion that he was going to shoot someone, cut up the body, and bury it.


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Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 31, 2010 at 2:25 pm

> Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
>> But consider for just one second that maybe owning a toy gun and a
>> camping/hunting knife is not that big a deal-- Is it possible?

What gave you the idea that I think owning a gun, toy gun or camping equipment is a "big deal". I think none of this is about "owning" anything, it is about responsibility, judgement and mismanagement of "special" items of concern.

Here is my problem ... with comments like yours and that "grinding the axe" attitude the student who did this is liable to get the wrong idea, and really not learn the lesson he should have by this incident. Maybe he'll end up going through his life like you trying to prove something that does not need proving by a responsible honest person of goodwill and integrity.

Yes, everyone makes mistakes. I showed up the airport with something I should not have on a flight one time. It was a minor thing, and not an issue, but I could have taken center stage and whined about it, and cried out how it was silly or unfair, or how I would sue - and made it worse for myself and everyone else. Instead I just went with the program - because I "get it". Some people out there just do not get it. That's sad enough, but when they pass that on and make a big grandstanding issue out of fighting something that everyone is making a best effort to try to get right for the benefit of all, those people are being counter-productive and not helping anyone at all. Maybe they just seek attention.

I have to repeat that just another one of your mind games comments is to frame this as "someone called the police on a toy gun". Guess you just do not get that if it was known to be a toy gun or being managed responsibly, no one would have called the police, and no incident. Nothing for you to get on the soapbox about too ... how sad. ;-)


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Posted by robit noops
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 31, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Maybe he just needs a hug. Its hard being an 18 year old adult male and not acting like a child.

Sure, owning this stuff is not an issue. But displaying it in a matter that can be construed as threatening is poor judgement. He could have even brought a real gun to school if he had the good judgement to keep it in a backpack and not flash it in front of someone. Good judgement would be to not act like he was filming a rap video as he drove into the parking lot with his toy gun in his lap in his convertible.

I did some illegal stuff in high school that was not in good judgement, but I did have judgement and common sense enough not to get caught.


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Posted by mjm
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 31, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Hunter,

Thanks for thaking this down a notch--I needed a good laugh. And this discussion was getting a bit personal. It might be good to get back to Bru's original question:

"I think the question asked in another forum of what should the Gunn student (with the airgun in his car) have done is a very good one, and a discussion and exploration of that would be very benficial for everyone."


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Posted by Gunn Student
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 31, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Everyone at Gunn High School supports Weston and does not believe he should be expelled, or charged with a felony. The newspapers are making him out to be a monster, and showing no side of what a good kid he is. Parents and community members can voice their opinions, but this affected Gunn Students more than anyone, and while the Code Red may have been scary, and we may have been mad, no one thinks Weston's life should be ruined by this. It was a little mistake, and it shouldn't ruin the rest of his life. There will be even more anger than their is now if things get ruined for Weston.


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Posted by hunter
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 31, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Gunn student. He isnt a monster, he is just stupid. Expulsion and a felony arent the end of the world. He can still get employment at gas stations, fast food establishments, janitorial services, toll booths. I dont know how this would effect his elligebility for the armed services, but this could be a good time for him to enlist and be shipped overseas. Getting kicked out of school could open up many doors for him, and I am sure he will learn to USE BETTER JUDGEMENT!


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 31, 2010 at 3:34 pm

The Anon. who is a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood:

"What gave you the idea that I think owning a gun, toy gun or camping equipment is a "big deal". I think none of this is about "owning" anything, it is about responsibility, judgement and mismanagement of "special" items of concern."

See the comment from Gunn parent (and others) above. Quite a few people seem to think it is big deal.

"Here is my problem ... with comments like yours and that "grinding the axe" attitude the student who did this is liable to get the wrong idea, and really not learn the lesson he should have by this incident. Maybe he'll end up going through his life like you trying to prove something that does not need proving by a responsible honest person of goodwill and integrity."

Here is my problem -- it appears that due to some combination of miscommunication and over-reaction, a minor incident blew up into a massive, dangerous wargame. If everyone pats the school administration and the police on the back about this, nobody will go back and re-examine whether or not this played out the way it should have. Based on what I have read so far, it seems very likely that school-police and police-police communication was grossly inadequate.



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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 31, 2010 at 3:50 pm

I used to bring a bong to school in my car everyday and I never got caught because I put a blanket over it while I was driving or on school and I didn't flash. At 18 he should be trying to score girls and toy guns don't help with the ladys.

No felony, but lots of community service and probation and grounded for the summer. And his parents hella shouldn't let him play with airguns anymore (especially since he is 18).


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Posted by student
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 31, 2010 at 4:06 pm

"He can still get employment at gas stations, fast food establishments, janitorial services, toll booths." ...do you REALLY think Weston deserves that?

This kid was heading to Cornell.... you say this incident will help him have better judgement in the future, but this isn't a kid who's an idiot now!! He doesn't habitually make bad decisions, and he didn't make the conscious decision to mess up, he didn't even think about it. Taking away his life and causing him to have his future ruined over something that could have easily not happened is ridiculous. This incident isn't characteristic of who he is, and his character isn't flawed in any way. He's a good kid who has never caused anyone any harm, and will continue to be a good person. Charging him with a felony will not help anyone, it will just ruin a good kids life.


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Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 31, 2010 at 4:18 pm

> a minor incident blew up into a massive, dangerous wargame.

I don't know if that is a fair description of the situation at all. Unnecessary, yes, luckily as it turns out. With the stuff that is going on with the kids in Palo Alto I think better to be safe than sorry.

Whether than to try and second guess what is going to happen to the kid ... this is not done for every misunderstood or confused kid that gets in trouble, let the chips fall where they may. Again, I think this is a great opportunity for the kid if he says the right thing, it could be the kind of thing he could write about ... lessons learned ... in his application essay if they still do that kind of thing anymore.

Rather than come up with all kinds of reaons to ignore the law and the institutions we have to live under,why not try to give them a chance and then if they do not work fix them.

There is no way a kind with a good education in Palo Alto is going to end up as a janitor.

God there is so much over the top hyperbole in any discussion like this it's really silly.


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Posted by mjm
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 31, 2010 at 4:29 pm

Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
"Based on what I have read so far, it seems very likely that school-police and police-police communication was grossly inadequate."

I don't know what you expect from the school or the police.

An adult calls 911 and reports that he/she just saw a car with 2 males and the passenger is holding with what looks like a rifle enter Gunn HS campus. It is now 2:00 and school gets out in 10 minutes. The car is now somewhere in the parking lot on a campus with 1900 (ok, not everyone has a class last period, so maybe there are only 1400 kids on campus). Oh, and another call comes in with reports of gunshots in the Los Robles area (behind Gunn HS).

The school did not call the police, the police notified the school of the report, called the code red and took control of the situation.

For those who think the police over reacted, I would like to know what you think the correct response should have been? Remember, it was a bystander who called police in Times Square who found the bomb.


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Posted by kmom
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 31, 2010 at 5:46 pm

What I don't understand is why everyone feels that life and school is risk-free, when we face dangers everyday in our cars, at home, at school, at work, on vacation, etc. The fact of the matter is that our own Palo Alto students are not safe at school. They get bullied, verbally abused and physically assaulted. At least my son has had all three of these things happen to him and has seen other kids suffer the same abuses. The administration tells us that safety comes first at our schools and yet that's not true, when they let those things I mentioned occur everyday at Gunn HS. Yet many of you speak as if Gunn HS has no dangers and that bringing this air soft gun was a potentially life threatening weapon that could have been used against your student(of course if it had been real). Well what about their fists or their slicing tongues or their verbal threats. Should they leave them home too-of course they should, but they don't. Their are many weapons in society that can destroy a student population and to be honest an air-soft gun is not one of them. Stop talking about the weapon that "didn't harm anyone and start talking about the weapons kids use on each other every day that "does" continual harm to our students well-being.


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Posted by A Palo Alto parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 31, 2010 at 5:49 pm

The fact that so many adults have no idea what the rules are about conveying bb guns in Palo Alto tells me that the city needs to have a clear educational statement on the PA website that everyone can understand. When a friend transports his son's bb guns to friends' houses or camp for target practice (part of Eagle scout badge work), he keeps them in gun cases, unloaded, in the trunk. Any adult who teaches a kid about gun safety needs to include the rule of not carrying any kind of gun in a public place.


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Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 31, 2010 at 6:50 pm

>> why everyone feels that life and school is risk-free

No feels that life is risk-free and no is is making that argument or saying that.

>> Stop talking about the weapon that "didn't harm anyone and start talking about the weapons kids use on each other every day that "does" continual harm to our students well-being.

That's an important issue, just not the one that is being discussed here. ;-)


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Posted by gunnstnt
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 31, 2010 at 10:45 pm

isn't the district attorney running for re-election? i think a letter should be drafted and students can sign it. i'm going to ask mr. lira in the academic center if we can put the letter in there and have people come in and add their name. if the DA charges weston with a felony, we will all vow to get voters to vote against her. same with the school board members who want to be re-elected.


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Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on May 31, 2010 at 11:52 pm

Perhaps of relevance, or at least to inject some humor into this.

A few years back one of my kids was in a historical re-enactment of Ann Frank. I was helping out and outside for Mr. McGovern. A bunch of former graduates from Paly would return and be the Nazi soldiers for the play. They were dressed in pretty realistic uniforms, had guns which were real but altered ("neutered") so as to be not usable, and were "getting in character" by smoking vegetable cigarettes. About six of them were sitting at a table---uniforms on, rifles on the table, cigarette smoke wafting about.

Now this particular time was in the evening and it was Adult School Night. So adults would turn a corner and confront this site, be taken aback....no one called the police but an explanation was forthcoming for those whose faces bore some resemblance to a trout which just swam upstream into a sewer system.

But one elderly female adult instructor strode up to the table and with a stern look in her eye and a stern tone to her voice recited the law against smoking and insisted all the cigarettes be put out at once. The kids complied with amazed looks on their faces.

As she walked off they said things like "didn't she see the guns" and "what about our uniforms, there probably is a law against wearing Nazi regalia to school" and (my favorite) "what does this lady so if she's driving through EPA and sees some guy using crack alongside a 7-11? Does she pull over and give him the riot act?".

Meanwhile I fantasized about what if they had a Hibachi on the table, real guns with bullets, and saw a pigeon. As the cigarettes were put out one would take aim at the pigeon, shoot it and they would "get in character" by plucking it and roasting it on the table (and violating a fire ordinance).

But no more re-enactments, probably no more egg wars, and now this "criminal act" is being prosecuted?

The kid made a mistake, he should have at least looked around and re-assured anyone who saw (and not running away screaming) to the effect of "this is just an Air-Soft" toy and I'm gonna go play with it after school.".

But once the alarm went off of course the police and school have to assume the worst.

I understand that there is some concern over the perception of an over-reaction by the police, or how they dealt with the kids in general. Sort of like an inflammation in the body out of control. I wasn't there, have heard no first hand accounts, but hope this can be a learning experience (dare I say "teachable moment"?) for all.

The kid should learn a relevant lesson. The police and the school can evaluate the response, both from this Keystone Cops type incident and a "what if" if it had been a real threat.


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Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Ventura
on Jun 1, 2010 at 8:09 am

To Anon- thanks for clarifying the Muni code 9.08.010
The link I posted was a Palo Alto Police press release.

Here is the link to PA Muni code 9.08.010 Web Link

I wonder how many kids ONLY use these guns "at a legal firing, shooting or target range or hunting ground;"?

To All PA Parents,
Please review the code or call PA Police if you have questions about airsoft guns.


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Posted by One Parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 1, 2010 at 11:28 am

As the parent of a Gunn student who was kept in the library during the code red, I find it very troubling that so many are commenting here that Air Soft guns are toys and the police overreacted. This young man clearly did not mean any harm. He is a good kid. But I'm very glad that when someone saw what might have been a dangerous weapon being brought on campus it was reported and treated as the threat it might have been until proven otherwise. When he exposed what looks like a very dangerous weapon on campus, this young man put my son in a very dangerous situation; many police, weapons drawn, ready for anything, and a lot of young people who, in spite of code red drills earlier in the year, did not do the things they had been taught, for instance to not use their cell phones during a code red. My son did not call me because he had been taught not to, yet a lot of students were phoning and texting in violation of the rules. This was a potentially explosive situation and that is why we have these rules where you can't bring such things on campus. Pretending that the police or anyone else should be able to judge whether something that looks like a gun is a toy or not is irresponsible and lame. I'm glad there were responsible adults in charge of this situation and that my son was not hurt. Thank you to all who worked so hard to make the students safe. I'm so grateful. We need a lot more drills in the future so that all the students know what to do in a real code red and will follow the procedures they are taught.


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Posted by midtowner
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 1, 2010 at 11:29 am

If you are going to have an airsoft gun, or going to let you kid have an airsoft gun, then you are responsible for finding out the laws and rules. Just as when you start to drive a car, you are responsible for learning the rules. None of it should be a surprise.

It seems to me that when you or your kid is starting to get into airsoft, it might be a good idea for someone in the house to say - "hey, I wonder what the laws are on transporting this real looking gun around"... the information is easy enough to find. Its not like he had never handled one before and picked it up on the corner and drove into Gunn. It was, I suspect, an interest that grew over time and he had a chance to get informed and his parents had a chance to get informed.

It is one's responsibility to figure out what the laws are in their area... and then to follow the laws... and then when they mess up, and accidently or intentionally break the law, they take responsibility and endure the consequences.


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Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 1, 2010 at 1:17 pm

OK,...but a felony charge?

Did someone think "we earned an arrest after all we went through"?

This is like something from a Beavis and Butthead movie, the guy who caused NY Airport to shut down because he wanted a kiss from his girlfriend, the kid expelled because he bought a pocket knife to school accidentally after a fishing trip.......


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Posted by Moira
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 1, 2010 at 1:19 pm

I am a Gunn parent and I find the way the situation spun out of control, ridiculous and a bit frightening. I got a text from a fellow parent saying "Code Red" at Gunn, boys with guns on campus. I had a very scary 10 minutes until I heard on the news radio that everything was ok and noone was hurt. A supposed gun spotted in a car is alot different than kids "toting" guns on campus and should have been reported as such. Why didn't the observer watch the guy park the car and see if he left with the gun before calling police? Since noone was in the car anymore, why didn't someone at the school go take a look at the gun and see immediately that it was a toy rifle (gun couldn't shoot on it's own so noone would be in danger) and make a PA announcement for the owner of the car (without mentioning the gun) come to the office (police could be there at this point). 5 minutes later, student would have explained, parents called, but no need for Code Red. Obviously the inaccurate report of gunshots heard compounded the overreaction.

I don't blame the police for their actions once the chain of events occurred, but I think the response initially was illogical. I agree that "zero tolerance" can lead to the suspension of common sense.


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Posted by Anonymouser Than Thou
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 1, 2010 at 1:21 pm

>> This is like something from a Beavis and Butthead movie

Not really, but you should upgrade your literary references if you want to be taken seriously.

But ... where has it been stated there is a felony charge? Did I miss that or were you just hyperbolizing?


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Posted by One Gunn Mom
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jun 1, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Moira,

The "observer" was on Arastradero Rd and saw the car turn into the parking lot at Gunn. If the person was on foot, he/she would have to follow the car to the back parking lot. If the person was in a car, there is only one way in and the same way out. That is an awful lot to expect of someone--to put themselves in danger just to avoid having the police come onto campus. I for one would not follow a car with two 18 year old males and what looked like a rifle being held by the passenger. The "observer" did the right thing. If it had been real, we would be calling this person a hero.

The school did not call the police, the police notified the school and the police decided it was dangerous enough to call the code red.

Law Check posted earlier....
"...California Penal Code 626.10 which he violated in not only bringing the Airsoft rifle to school, but ALSO the knife.........
stun gun, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 244.5, any instrument that expels a metallic projectile such as a BB or a pellet, through the force of air pressure, CO2 pressure, or spring action, or any spot marker gun, upon the grounds of, or within, any public or private school providing instruction in kindergarten or any of grades 1 to 12, inclusive, is guilty of a public offense, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by imprisonment in the state prison.

So as you can see, the knife having a blade length of over 2 1/2 inches AND the instrument that expels a pellet through the force of CO2 pressure are both violations. The charge can either be a misdemeanor (punishable by a fine or county jail) or a felony (punishable in state prison.) If the student doesn't have a criminal record most courts will prosecute him for the misdemeanor section."


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Posted by hunter
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 1, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Im fine with the action. Better safe then sorry. It still seems like common sense that you dont drive into a school with a gun, airgun, airsoft gun, toy gun, or whatever. If you were driving on the freeway and a car came up on you and you saw a realistic weapon pointed at you how would you react? If you give someone the perception that there is danger, than they have a right to react. And since so many of the headlines in the Palo Alto daily are about the pressure that Gunn kids are under and how hard everything is on them then you give an added perception that they are likely to pop and go crazy at school with a weapon.


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Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 1, 2010 at 3:08 pm

You might have missed it.

Web Link

The PAPD officer states that it is a felony offense. Not sure if that is what he was charged with.....but with the shrill voices here and the quoting of various laws..

Let's give everyone the benefit of the doubt here and imagine how it probably came down..

Kid in a hurry and frazzled getting to school, at the last minute is told he has to drop off a younger sibling at a middle school, that kids says "yeah I put your Airsoft gun in the car" and the driver thinks by default it's in the trunk. He arrives and notices (expletive) that it's in the car and quickly puts it in the trunk. He's in a hurry and it's near graduation so doesn't think about the visual impact potential. Someone notices from a distance, freaks and calls are made. The police notifies the school and sends an armada trained and ready for the worst. Pandemonium breaks out.

Really just replace the driver and the sibling with Beavis and Butthead, put in the principal from the same comic, add Mr. Buzzcut and Mr. Anderson and this would be a classic scene. You think Shakespeare would write a play about this?

Objectively this is not funny, lots of people got freaked out. And the kid who made a mistake will probably have to pay a big price or at least suffer the death of 10,000 meetings. But people in Maine to Florida who would hear about a kid bringing in an Airsoft in a convertible, locking it in his trunk, and then the mayhem breaking out. Surely there will be chuckles. And Gunn has already got a bit of national attention. "At the same school where...."


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Posted by Sue Dremann
Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
on Jun 1, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Sue Dremann is a registered user.

I have just spoken with the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office. Weston Healy has not yet been charged with any crime and the DA is reviewing the case. We will keep you posted of any news regarding his case.


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Posted by Parent of a Gunn Student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jun 1, 2010 at 8:29 pm

A Noun Ea Mus, since when do you "know" that the student with the very-realistic-looking toy gun had "dropped a younger sibling off at middle school" and was "frazzled about getting to school?

This incident occurred at the END of the school day - in fact, my own child made it to the bus stop and got on the bus home just as the lockdown was occurring.

Someone from a distance sees a very-realistic-looking toy weapon (note the image link in a post above comparing an Airsoft with a real gun - visually, they are virtually identical), obviously the responsible call is to inform the police. If it had turned out to be a real gun, NO ONE be would accusing the observer of "freaking out" and making apologies for the student with the gun.


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Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 1, 2010 at 11:49 pm

I didn't say I "know" anything about the details of how it came down. I merely was trying to paint a picture of how a reasonable and informed person could have a "bad hair morning" and things could go wrong. It's called imagination. Go back and read what I wrote.

So if this occurred at the end of the day...does that mean that the Airsoft toy gun was sitting out in the convertible all day, and only at the end of the day did he put it in the trunk? (why bother at that point, just cover it and drive away).

In my imaginary scenario I was also trying to give the benefit of the doubt to whomever saw the Airsoft toy gun. I think if I saw what I reasonably thought to be a real gun on a school I would also "freak". It wasn't meant to be dismissive or suggest that the caller did anything wrong at all. Nor with the school or police in having to assume that the worst may be occurring.

In any event I am glad that perhaps this student will not be charged with any crime, be it a felony or a misdemeanor. I'm sure he feels bad enough about it all already, has learned whatever lesson he needs to. Now the whole thing just needs to be looked at as an accidental drill.


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Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 2, 2010 at 1:25 am

>>> I'm sure he feels bad enough about it all already, has learned whatever lesson he needs to.

I have a real problem with your last post, and all the speculation and confusion that you seem to think is a plus. How much is gained by trying to "imagine" what might have happened, and framing the incident according to one's preconceived notions so that it might be more difficult for you and others who "imagined" along with you to change their minds. This is why they move trials. There is not much to be gain by making up scenarios.

But your last statement is interesting and I think bears looking at. Is it good enough to "imagine" that the kid feels bad? I don't think so. I think the key to this is some authority being able to find the right tools, or person, or procedure ... whatever ... to interview the student and see exactly what was going on with him.

Let's take for instance the case of the BART guard who shot the man in the BART station. I could imagine that the guard made a mistake and felt terrible about it, as I would hope anyone would. But when I looked that this man's bahavior, he went into hiding and I think even went out of state. He was not forthcoming to the police and investigators. The appearance of that is bad, particularly to the community in Oakland where the incident took place. How is someone to make a judgement, or do we just "assume" the best in every case with every suspect, and give them the benefit of the doubt? Who knows, who has access to all of the information and can apply that information objectively?

If we treat people differently, some will want to file suits over that, feeling that perhaps they are being discriminated against; but if we treat everyone the same, for the shooting in Oakland that would mean punishing someone who might be terrible sorry and forthcoming the same as someone who might have been a total racist murderer who thought he could use a police badge to get away with murder. I am speculating here for a thought experiment.

I think these questions are not only hard buy perhaps impossible. What is constant and clear is the needs of the community. The community, Palo Alto, Gunn High School does not have any need to be draconian or vindictive, but they do have a need to make a clear statement, and to have the suspect either apologize and contribute to solving the problem, or receive punishment. I think the city has the need to overcome the tendency of some to ridicule and blame the police for taking the action they did when it was the responsible thing to do.

I would like to see the DA talk to the student and the parents, maybe even interview friends and witnesses to get a sense of what this person is like. A lot of young men who play these games are very arrogant and full of themselves. Who is this person, and what was he thinking.

If he could somehow tell us all, what was his experience and offer both an apology and his point of view, and maybe an idea of how to avoid what happened for others, and some community service, that could be a win-win. Coming down on the kid unnecessarily is counterproductive, but allowing someone to escape the consequences of their action when it is serious, or turned out to be serious, even if unintentional would be worse.


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Posted by One Parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 2, 2010 at 8:44 am

Moira, It's just your sort of comments I take issue with. You are still pretending that the person who saw the gun, the police, everyone can read minds and see into the future. This is unrealistic. I would certainly not follow anyone who had such a thing to find out what he planned to do with it. That would be very stupid. In bringing a realistic looking weapon on campus this probably well meaning young man started a chain reaction that fortunately turned out the best it could have given incidents like Columbine.


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Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 2, 2010 at 10:48 am

"I would like to see the DA talk to the student and the parents, maybe even interview friends and witnesses to get a sense of what this person is like. A lot of young men who play these games are very arrogant and full of themselves. Who is this person, and what was he thinking."

So based on one bad judgment call, one which led to a series of understandable responses-- which in turn led to a tsunami of actions, everyone has to root up this kids behind to get a sense of "what this person is like"? !! Now we've moved from Beavis and Butthead to a take-off of "Take the Money and Run" by Woody Allen. His parents with Groucho Marx nose-glasses being interviewed, next a now-senile former 1st grade teacher blathering on, one of those cheapo family counselors issuing whatever dictate they feel they are mandated to give, ex-girlfriends giggling and all. Virgil Starkwell started his life of crime.......

So this mistake he made is then justification for some sort of "what's he like?" judgment or worth evaluation? Like he's standing before the Pearly Gates?

Perhaps if this "criminal" is charged with a crime it would be proper to move the trial to an area without bias against the supposed arrogant and "full of themselves" nature which is probably prevalent around here.

I upfront labeled my scenario in the hopes that all of us could imagine how perhaps a hectic day with lots in input could lead us to make some mistake--one which might blossom out of control as this one did. One person had a problem with it because he/she failed to read it accurately as an imagine scenario. Now someone else has a problem with it because it is such. I suppose one could also create one in which the "perp" had evil intent to cause such a frenzied incident, but just looking at the facts as now known shows that to be absurd to even consider.

You bring up the BART shooting case. That is a strange case in that the shooter/BART police refused to be even interviewed at all, even by the BART officials responsible for an initial interview and investigation. As you described.

BART police/real gun/killing of a human/refuses to participate in any interview or investigation even with lawyer present/charged with murder

HS student/toy gun inadvertently spotted on campus/understandable alarm issued/understandable response/mayhem and fear on campus/inadvertent drill/arrested for felony crime/disposition unclear at this time...

You really think that an imaginary scenario of the HS kid is worse than comparing him to an armed one--one who took another's life?


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Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 2, 2010 at 11:49 am

A-NEM, maybe you choose to ignore what I wrote, or maybe you have bad reading comprehension skills, or maybe you don't care and just want attention, or maybe you are compelled to type out a piles of words that don't relate to what is being discussed. I started out to explain my post, but I think you can read, you just choose not to participate in a discussion, you only want to jump to wild conclusions ... you can count me out.


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