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What They Think: Crookston board’s decision not right

Good for the Crookston (Minn.) School Board for making a decision that members hope will erase any gray areas in district policy regarding senior pictures and guns. Unfortunately, we don’t believe it was the right decision.

The board recently decided students cannot be pictured in the high school yearbook posing with firearms of any kind.

This isn’t an issue with underclassmen, who are pictured in generic photos while on school property. But it can be an issue with senior photos, which no longer are simple portraits but instead are customized to display the taste, interests and creativity of students.

The Crookston controversy arose when Riley Schultz, a senior, submitted a photo of himself on a pickup truck and holding a gun. The board decided no photos of students with guns will be allowed in the yearbook. However, the board amended the decision to allow members of the school trap club to pose as a team with their shotguns.

This isn’t an issue unique to Crookston. One case that drew national attention happened recently in Nebraska, where the Broken Bow School Board decided to allow guns in photos, as long as the images are tasteful.

Originally, school officials felt posing with guns was promoting violence, but upon consideration, they allowed it because they realized hunting is an integral and popular pastime in the community.

Adding to the controversy, of course, is the sad trend of school shootings. Coincidentally, the Crookston decision came just before a school shooting in Kentucky, which left two students dead and 18 injured.

Does posing with a gun promote violence? We don’t believe so, and especially not around these parts, where so many people have deep family and community ties to the outdoors and hunting. Some kids don’t play football, or participate in debate, or sing in the choir — or any of the myriad other activities that can be depicted and portrayed in a senior photo.

Some kids just like to hunt — safely and responsibly with firearms.

When the Crookston School Board made its decision, we believe it erred by disallowing Schultz’s photo but allowing the trapshooting team its opportunity. For all we know — and we are simply viewing from the sidelines — Schultz is just as trained and responsible with a gun as those fine kids on the shooting team.

We understand the board’s thinking and its wish to erase any future gray areas regarding photos with guns. Since determining tasteful photos can never be completely objective, it also can never be completely consistent. That eventually will lead to trouble and more controversy sometime down the road.

Don’t be hard on the Crookston School Board about this. These are citizen lawmakers, trying their best to govern fairly and consistently.

But we feel the board should have said yes to Schultz and the trapshooting team. Or no to both.