Folks in the rural community of Willows, Ca., remember the days, not long ago, when teenagers went duck hunting on autumn mornings and parked their pickup trucks on the high school campus with shotguns displayed in racks, says the Sacramento Bee. That’s why residents were upset when school officials in November expelled Gary Tudesko, 16, for parking his pickup on a street next to campus with shotguns in the back seat after hunting waterfowl. Tomorrow, the Glenn County Board of Education will hear an appeal in Tudesko’s case, with local supporters and out-of-town activists expected to attend. A prominent gun-rights lawyer represents the teen, and the National Rifle Association supports him. The case has attracted national attention, and it may end up setting legal precedent.
“This is a conservative, redneck hunting town. I’d say 99 percent of people in town support Gary,” said chiropractor Eric Wunsch, a 1985 graduate of Willows High School. He remembered his school’s parking lot filled with firearms. School officials and Willows police say the days when the town’s students could bring guns to school are gone, a result of the post-Columbine reality in which safety is paramount. “Times have changed,” said Assistant Principal Jerry Smith, an avid waterfowl hunter and NRA member. “I wish it was still 1955. I think a lot of us do, but it’s not. “Gun rights are one thing, but guns don’t belong anywhere near school,” he said.