In response to requests from parents, a Nebraska public school board voted unanimously this week to permit graduating seniors to pose with firearms in their school yearbook photographs.
The Broken Bow Public Schools Board, which serves a predominantly rural area located near Kearney, NE, agreed 6-0 that seniors could appear in the school yearbook photographed with guns, as long as it is "tasteful and appropriate," The Omaha World-Herald reported.
Hunting and shooting sports are common in the community of 3,500, where around 50 students will be part of the 2015 graduating class.
"The board I believe felt they wanted to give students who are involved in those kinds of things the opportunity to take a senior picture with their hobby, with their sport, just like anybody with any other hobby or sport," said Broken Bow Schools Superintendent Mark Sievering.
While the district previously had no policy regarding senior photos for the yearbook, firearms had been prohibited due to"national concerns about school violence," Sievering told the Omaha newspaper. The new policy specifies that students may pose with items that illustrate their accomplishments or interests, including hunting, shooting and other outdoor sporting activities.
There was no opposition to the Board's action this week, not even from the group Nebraskans Against Gun Violence, whose director said she had no concerns as long as the photo sessions took place off campus and were supervised.
The Nebraska case was a stark contrast to one occurring in New Hampshire in 2004, when school officials rejected the yearbook photograph of avid senior class shooter Blake Douglass dressed in his shooting vest with his favorite shotgun broken open and perched on his shoulder.
"I don't see anything wrong with the picture," Douglass told the Londonderry News-Leader at the time. "I enjoy shooting trap and skeet, and I believe you should stand up for what you believe in."
But school officials disagreed. Superintendent Nate Greenberg said the photo submitted by Douglass is inappropriate given what he called "an epidemic of school violence that has swept the nation in recent years."
The National Rifle Association and the Gun Owners of New Hampshire agreed to support the young shooter in his case against the school district.