LETTER: Columbia Falls Suspension Inappropriate

By Beacon Staff

I have followed the curious case of Damari DeReu, the Columbia Falls High School student who forgot her hunting rifle in the trunk of her car and was suspended the week following hunting season. I was amused by the whole issue when I remembered my own high school days.

I remember parking my vehicle in Flathead High School’s parking lot with my rifle, ammunition, hunting knife and a change of clothes clearly visible in the backseat, so I would have an early start immediately after class was dismissed. I was not alone!

I remember pickup trucks with rifle racks in the back window containing numerous rifles and shotguns, and try as I might, I don’t remember a single theft or murder occurring as a result.

But, let’s leave ancient history. For nearly two decades I taught at a rural school near here. My students would arrive carrying pocketknives, which was against the rules. They had chores to do before class and then again right after school got out, most involving cutting twine on hay bales and feeding livestock. My standing rule was to place the knife in my top drawer before class and to pick it up on their way home. I believed this to be a common sense approach. Not one knife was ever stolen from my desk, and no one was ever stabbed during my tenure.

According to the Columbia Falls school board, their hands are tied. They have to follow the federal law and the recommendations of the Montana School Boards Association. I guess they have forgotten that the state Constitution guarantees hunting as a right and that this is not Detroit or L.A. Perhaps, the one-size-fits-all mentality of MTSB and the federal government needs to be questioned and in this case challenged.

Richard Funk

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