By Charlie Keohane, Staff Writer
// An airsoft gun was found in an Acalanes student’s locker on Feb. 14, resulting in a police investigation on the same day that the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida took the lives of 17 people. The Acalanes administration was notified of the airsoft gun after two students saw a photo of another student with a gun and reported it to the administration. The police were called to campus, and upon a further search of the student’s locker, the airsoft gun was discovered.
In an email addressed to the “Acalanes Community” and delivered on Thursday to parents and staff, Principal Travis Bell said that police removed the student from campus after discovering the airsoft gun. Depending on the severity of the situation, bringing a weapon to school can result in a student’s suspension or expulsion. However, Bell declined to disclose any information regarding the disciplinary actions taken against the student.
The student involved did not respond to Blueprint’s attempts to contact him.
According to Airgun Depot, a company that sells airsoft guns across the country and is a partner of the National Rifle Association (NRA), “airsoft guns were created with realistic looking weapons in mind so that players could participate in military or police scenarios without risk of getting seriously injured.” An airsoft gun shoots smooth ceramic or plastic pellets at speeds up to 700 feet per second, according to the Kirkland Police Department in Washington.
According to Bell, an orange piece was not located on the student’s airsoft gun, which was shaped like a handgun. A United States federal importation law states that airsoft guns are required to have barrels with at least a 6mm wide blaze orange tip so they are not mistaken for real firearms. Without this orange piece, an airsoft gun can resemble a real firearm to an unsuspecting student.
Because the student did not return Blueprint’s attempts to contact him, the reason as to why he brought the gun to campus is unknown. Bell also declined to comment on the student’s intent, stating that only the student could accurately divulge that information.
In the email, Bell said that the situation was handled appropriately by both Lafayette Police and Acalanes staff, and that the school will continue to respond quickly in future circumstances.
Given the same day’s events in Florida, Bell feels that the airsoft gun on campus was an unfortunate coincidence.
“The timing of it was awful. I got the report about what happened in Florida followed by a text message like ten minutes later about the airsoft gun because I was at a meeting at the District Office,” Bell said. “My greatest concern was that people would feel overly anxious about everything that was going on in Florida.”
This event has elicited a variety of reactions from students, ranging from dismissiveness to worry.
“I’m not concerned for my safety,” sophomore Rayce Walton said. “I think it was an overreaction—we had to the whole Lafayette Police come to school over an airsoft gun.”
Meanwhile, others are relieved that Acalanes is taking these precautions.
“I’m glad that the school is taking the situation seriously, and treating the airsoft gun as if it were a real gun,” sophomore Mila Mathias said. “Students need to realize that there are some topics that should never be joked about, no matter the situation.”
This event has served as a reminder to Bell to respond quickly and treat every situation with the proper precautions, like calling the police early, if it could be dangerous. The administration hopes that students will continue to step up and report any suspicious activity on campus.
“If you see something, say something,” Bell said. “Don’t ever assume someone else has reported it.”