Over the course of the stay-at-home order, both my son and my youngest daughter had to complete various school assignments on the computer, and some of that work included classroom Zoom meetings every week. In addition, my son also took group piano lessons via Zoom. And on Tuesdays and Fridays, he was joined by classmates from all over the world. It’s certainly a pretty useful and innovative technology. But as we all know, anything like this can have its downfalls. (I’m not talking about a fictional Skynet-level event. I mean anything from navigating Wi-Fi glitches and figuring out muted microphones to witnessing wardrobe malfunctions and wondering who might be spying on your “private” conferences.)
One such downfall occurred when the parent of a first grader in a Zoom classroom meeting noticed that in one of the video windows there was a firearm present. Of course, it should have been none of that parent’s business … but that didn’t stop her from immediately reporting to the school that one of the children in the meeting was in an “unsafe environment.”
I can’t imagine how upset and astonished the parents of this young man were when the police showed up at their home and inquired about the incident. What an invasion of privacy! Especially since the weapon the meddlesome parent spotted was none other than a cap gun — a toy — a favorite, brand-new plaything that was simply set aside instead of placed inside a toy chest, a drawer or a basket.
As the news story reported, the family in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, were shocked to answer a knock at the front door only to see the police standing there. “Earlier in the day, [their] 7-year-old son had completed a Zoom video call with his classroom. … Moments after the class ended, [the mother] had gotten an ‘urgent’ email from her son’s first-grade teacher.” And law enforcement showed up to interrogate the parents about the accusation.
It seems the anti-gun fanatics are actively going after people in their own homes now. They’ve moved on from punishing and suspending kids at school, like the second grader who chewed a breakfast pastry into the shape of a gun or three 6-year-olds who were playing with finger guns. Should we all be on the lookout for the wayward butter knife left on the kitchen table, still covered in grape jelly? Or what about an errant box of matches, used moments before to light a eucalyptus-scented candle? Surely children in those homes would be in dire need of attention and care … and supervision from a complete stranger who just happened to spot the “dangerous” items on the tiny screen of a classroom video meeting. But I digress….
Since some states have enacted laws designed to prevent children from accessing firearms (and will impose criminal or civil liability as a result of negligent storage), I looked up Child Access Prevention (CAP) laws in the state of Pennsylvania. As far as I can tell, Pennsylvania does not currently require that all firearms be stored with a locking device, nor do they penalize people who have stored a firearm where minors could gain access. So I’m not sure what the tattletale was hoping to accomplish.
Eventually, the officer left the boy’s home, realizing that he couldn’t cite the parents for a toy. (In fact, there weren’t even any real guns in the home!) And ultimately, the family decided to opt out of any more Zoom meetings.
If you learn anything from these crazy circumstances, definitely make a mental note about red flag laws. This is an example of what can happen. If red flag laws continue to pass across the nation, these are the kinds of incidents that will be commonplace — people fingering others for being “unsafe,” whether they have any clue about the reality of the situation or not!
About Beth Alcazar
Author of Women’s Handgun & Self-Defense Fundamentals and associate editor of Concealed Carry Magazine, Beth Alcazar has enjoyed nearly two decades of teaching and working in the firearms industry. She holds degrees in language arts, education and communication management and uses her experience and enthusiasm to share safe and responsible firearms ownership and usage with others. Beth is certified through the NRA as a Training Counselor, Chief Range Safety Officer and Certified Instructor for multiple disciplines. She is also a Certified Instructor through SIG Sauer Academy, ALICE Institute, DRAW School, TWAW and I.C.E. Training and is a USCCA Certified Instructor and Senior Training Counselor.