The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground. —THOMAS JEFFERSON, 1788

Teacher reportedly threatens student with fake gun

Kari Austin

This column has taken a dim view on schools that take a dim view on the use of imaginary weapons by students. Among the accounts that have deservedly been ridiculed in this space was one in which administrators in a Pennsylvania school district threatened a 10-year-old with expulsion for shooting a pretend arrow at a classmate.

A story today, reported by West Tennessee ABC affiliate WBBJ, suggests that not all fake weapons attacks are equal. This time, the “weapon” — a toy gun — was in the hand of a teacher. The person at whom the gun was pointed was a student in her math class named Lauren Austin. In a moment of exasperation, the teacher, Claire Wilder, pulled the trigger and allegedly said something along the lines of “I wish this was real.”

After learning about the incident the girl’s understandably concerned mother, Kari Austin, told reporters:

I could not breathe. I was beside myself with anger that a teacher would do this to her in front of all those kids.

Chester County Director of Schools Cherrie Pipken told the station that administrators are aware of the situation and added in a brief statement that “appropriate action was taken and the teacher has been disciplined.” A video accompanying the news report indicates that the teacher was “placed on leave.” But since the incident occurred right before the Christmas break and the teacher was back in the classroom when school resumed, the family is now calling shenanigans. They have taken their daughter out of the classroom, and say they will not allow her to return until the school board removes Wilder. Said Kari Austin of the situation:

You just can’t even imagine how upset I am about this. Had Lauren done this to Ms. Wilder she wouldn’t be back in school. They wouldn’t let her back in school.

She has a point.

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Howard Portnoy has written for HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.

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  • Gal Spunes

    This is more than a firing offense, this should result in criminal charges.

    Threatening somebody’s life – even with a toy gun – is an arrestable offense.

    Parents should call the police.

    • crustyone

      The teacher should face the charges. A felony conviction would move the individual, following her sentence, from teaching in a classroom to a job more suited for her, such as cleaning toilets in public facilities, etc..

      • brewby

        Face criminal charges my ass! Anyone who stands up for a miscreant child who is disrupting a classroom and thereby depriving other students of an education ought to face criminal charges along with their child.

      • ginger

        The child is ten years old…and the article did not say what the supposed offense was …just that the teacher was “exasperated”..could be the child wasn’t understand the problem . or asked a question….doesn’t say…but the response from the teacher was beyond wrong…and why did she have a toy gun when the kids aren’t allowed to have them???

      • garysvent

        Given the repeated stories here and elsewhere about the ridiculous responses of school districts to pizza guns, biscuit guns, pencil guns, finger guns and completely imaginary guns, the journalism here is NOT suspect. We don’t care what the kid did, because that’s for parents to figure out and punish, if necessary. She’s not your child, people; mind your own business.

        What we do care about is the repeated imbecility of school officials who are taking our money and wasting it on trying to turn “boy-things” — like guns and bows and arrows and noise and dirt and rowdiness — into something worse than devil worship or pederasty, drugging them into sullen, dull-eyed little robots who don’t measure up to “girl-things”. At the same time (as illustrated by this piece of journalism) they are not adhering to the same rules they set up for everyone else in the school, typical leftist hypocrisy.

        The school boards that allow this double standard to continue are only making it harder for people to believe that it’s safe to send their child into this maw of ideological insanity. And it goes without saying that the unions should be disbanded and made illegal. No one who gets even a tenth part of their income from taxes should be able to join a union. Or vote.

      • LiuD

        bravo! Gary, you are so right and frankly I too am sick and tired of the deliberate vilification of the “gun” by school officials to beyond the point of absurdity. A momnent such as this would never have been elevated to this much public attention if it was anything else, but because it’s a “gun” (even a fake one) all the liberal panties are all tied up in knots… grow up people! Where is common sense any more! Where are the adults anymore!

      • ginger


      • Mark

        Kids aren’t even allowed imaginary guns.

      • bull57

        Yes, I would like to know what little princess was up to. That does not excuse the teachers actions! The teacher was not threatened with deadly violence. I have a conceal licenses and the only way I would pull my gun is if my family was faced with deadly violence!

      • brewby

        I am not really defending the teacher or her actions, but I am accusing a parent of not asking the right questions first.


        GFY. It is not your child.


        Great English: I have a conceal licenses… ????

      • bull57

        That’s your best response? You still got the point!

      • JobRon

        brewby: All the facts are not shown; however, the fact that this STUPID teacher had a TOY gun and pointed it at this student is beyond imagination. Whether it is a real or toy doesn’t matter, the student was threatened! That constitutes an offense (I believe assault with a deadly weapon is the proper category) that if handled properly should put the teacher completely out of the education system and away from children of any age for the rest of her life.

      • brewby

        I can explain it for you, but I cannot comprehend it for you. – Ed Koch

      • anoesis

        The toy gun is not the problem nor the fact that she had it, the STATEMENT she made that she wished it were a REAL gun IS. She in essence said that if it WERE a real gun she would shoot that child. I know some snotty little 10 year olds but NO grown person, especially a teacher IN THE CLASSROOM IN FRONT OF OTHER STUDENTS, should be allowed to threaten this child and get away with it no matter what the child was doing that got on her last nerve!


        The strongest union in the country, the NEA will protect the teacher.

      • Gal Spunes

        The toy gun is almost irrelevant.

        She “wished” it was real, thereby revealing a desire/intent to cause deadly harm to a child.

        Go to jail. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200

        If that had been my child, I regret to say I would have given her a lesson in what it feels like to stare down a real barrel and hear the trigger click. I say “I regret” because I know it would be wrong….but the red mist would descend.

      • garysvent

        ” … such as cleaning toilets in public facilities, etc..”

        Maybe Obama can get her on the Supreme Court with the other two Merry Maids. They can all three clean Clarence Thomas’s washroom; it would probably only take twice as long with three as it would with two when you’re dealing with this kind or irresponsible dolt afflicted with stunted maturity.

  • smogdew

    I’ve read more than one article about children being dismissed, suspended etc. – one was a 6 yr. old boy being dismissed when the Pop Tart he was eating took the form of a gun. Unbelievable.
    Now that Obama/Holder have issued a warning that teachers be more lenient with the disrupting black students, the school systems should really fall apart.
    The Teachers’ Union is such a power house, it will make sure there’s NOTHING a teacher does that is wrong.
    The Country is doomed, our educational system (common core) is doomed and our children are doomed. All because of ONE MAN – you got what you asked for…….Idiots.

  • burtfisher

    Liberals commonly use this language freely, jokingly, such as “I’ll kill [someone]”, following their Hollywood heroes and violent antisocial behavior. It’s another case of a double standard, applied differently to the liberal elites, versus the rest of us who actually work for a living, pay taxes, and raise our families.

  • jimchambers

    While I don’t condone this type of behavior by a teacher I am, however, left to wonder just what spurred this incident. The article doesn’t tell us whether the child involved was another of those kids who go to school but don’t want to be there and do what they can to disrupt and cause trouble. We aren’t told if the teacher was goaded into the incident, was assaulted by the young girl or anything else that led up to the event so poorly described.

    This is an example of very poor reporting in that we are given the parts of the story that would lead us to believe that the teacher is unprincipled while the poor little darling student was entirely without blame.
    In stories like this where we are only given enough information peak our interest but not enough to make an informed judgement does a disservice to the readers here. Good work, Heather Mathis and to you, Howard Portnoy, for not requiring more of your sources. This is the kind of story that gives journalists a bad name and the kind of work that liberals are famous for.

    • Howard Portnoy

      I understand your point, but I for one have a tough time getting my head around the notion that there is a reasonable level of exasperation that would justify a teacher’s doing what this one did. Perhaps you can enlighten me on where that line is drawn.

      • jimchambers

        I have to assume, given that you replied to my post, that you did read it. I stated at the beginning that I do not condone the behavior exhibited by the teacher.

        My quarrel is not with you so much as it is with the author who submitted such a weak article that was so bereft of facts that would give us a clue into why the teacher would resort to a such dire action. Your crime is passing it along without doing that leg work yourself.

        We are in the dark as to whether the student threatened or assaulted the teacher, if the student was armed or if the student was inciting others to harmful action against the teacher. That kind of information would have been rather helpful, don’t you think?

        If you want to be a journalist you should do the work of a journalist. Get the facts and all the facts. A journalist’s job is to inform not to sway opinion. The responses here prove that you accomplished the second while doing a very poor job of the first.

      • Gal Spunes

        It’s unusual to read such excellent career advice on the Intertubes. Typically, people are extremely reserved in their opinions of others’ work – but you certainly break that mold.

        Perhaps it will catch on? One can only hope….

      • Howard Portnoy

        If the student threatened or assaulted the teacher, then the teacher’s response was doubly inappropriate, not to mention woefully inadequate. The correct thing to do in that case is to report the student’s behavior to the administration, who likely in the case of an assault will report the matter to authorities. Again, I understand your point, but I still can’t fathom a circumstance that would warrant the teacher’s actions.

      • jimchambers

        Again you take away the wrong presumption. My reply has to do with the lack of information in the article.

        The author did a very poor job of informing the audience. I did not present those scenarios, though, as justification for what she did, only as an example that would have led us, your audience, to understand the circumstances better.

        We are still in the dark as to what really transpired leading up to the event. My quarrel with the author is with that dearth of information.

        Quality journalism. That, sir, is the point.

      • Howard Portnoy


      • anoesis

        You’re not going to win. He is the typical liberal. He has very little argument, no legs to stand on and refuses to quit saying “what if”.

      • Xavier

        Jim, while I agreed with you that the article could have been more explicit about the child’s behavior, I think you’re missing the larger issue: that teachers and students should be required to follow the same code of classroom conduct. I think we all realize that if the student had duplicated the teacher’s comments and gestures, she would have been expelled, marked for life, and possibly arrested. This episode is a good example of the “rules for thee, but not for me” perspective that seems to dominate when liberals are in charge.

      • jimchambers

        I did not miss the issue you point to and I have to agree with your sentiments in that regard.
        My reason for writing the post that I submitted was because I was nonplussed by the brevity of the article and the lack of information it contained. So many times we read articles and other pieces that contain innuendo, biases and untruths and the problem seems to be getting worse as I grow older.
        Since the 60’s I have watched news readers and reporters like Cronkite, Rather, Anthony Lewis, and Moyers among others come to think that they had a lock on the truth itself and they needed to push their views and biases on their audiences. Their job was to give us the facts and let us make our own decisions.
        Additionally, in my opinion news people have been getting lazier and less caring about their craft as time progresses. There was a era when a story that was presented in written media could be relied upon to be truthful and accurate. That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.
        It bothers me when people with little knowledge or understanding of the facts make assumptions. People in the south have been lynched because of things like this and once that has been done there is no going back or apologizing.

      • anoesis

        There is NO excuse for a grown teacher to do something like this. You can preach that we don’t know WHAT the child DID. IT DOES NOT MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE what the child did. This grown woman telling her she would kill her if she had a real gun is a Federal crime in the fact that it is a Terroristic threat. You are making the lack of information into the main topic here. IF all these things you have named had actually happened I’m sure they would have been reported or at least alluded to. You have written a completely different article from the original, which was, that if it is WRONG for a child to even mention a gun in school it should be even MORE wrong for a teacher to threaten a child with a gun in a classroom even if the gun IS a toy.

      • jimchambers


        Madam, I do not disagree with you in the least and empathize with your stance regarding the teacher’s conduct.

        I did, however, want to understand the situation and what brought the events about. The spartan volume of information in the article frustrated those attempts. I was merely expressing my displeasure with that frugality of facts and the seeming lack of competence of the author, Ms. Heather Mathis.

        You make the statement: “IF all these things you have named had actually happened I’m sure they would have been reported or at least alluded to.” My question to you is how do you know that to be the case? I need only bring up the media’s handling of the killing of Trayvon Martin or their treatment of the Benghazi scandal or the IRS scandal or the reporting on the OJ trial to prove your statement false. Reporters have proven that they cannot be trusted with the truth any more than can politicians.

        I think that every now and again those who we put our faith in to give us unbiased, unvarnished truth need to be reminded what their job is and that when they do not do that job proficiently they let you and me down. In this case the sin was incompetence and laziness but those traits can morph into something more sinister very quickly (see my examples above).

      • tjtex47

        If I read the story correctly the little girl involved was 10 and the teacher was an adult – exactly how much of a threat could the little girl be?

      • jimchambers


        In the first place nowhere in this story does it say that the child in question was ten years old so you did not read the story correctly.

        In the second, we cannot assume that the teacher is, indeed, an adult having committed this act.

        In the third, my quarrel was with the author, when I replied to this piece, for the paltry amount of information contained in the article (which you point out here quite adroitly) and had nothing to do with what threat the child posed. Your statement proves that either your reading skills should be updated or that you may have a problem comprehending the written word.

        Try rereading the text of the article and my several posts stating my argument and my explanations to those others like you who need remedial schooling.

      • tjtex47

        my mistake – she is 15 – still not a threat to an adult – if the teacher felt threatened she would not have reacted the way she did she would have been screaming for the cops

      • tjtex47

        Additionally if you want to start name calling you’ve just demonstrated the old liberal standard.

      • jimchambers


        Gawwd, I give up.

        Reread the comment I made. I am not dealing with whether or not the child was a threat or the teacher was out of bounds (which she was). I was dealing with the lack of information in the article.

        Your first reply was, as this is, a non sequitur.

        By the way, I did not call you any names. I did, however, point out your reading deficiency and ability to comprehend.

      • brewby

        Hard to say where to draw the line, but after a long day to be confronted with a 6th period and a recalcitrant student, probably a repeat offender would be a good place to start looking.

    • ginger

      No one is questioning that the teacher was upset…the RESPONSE is what is WRONG…if the so-called adult can’t control herself, how can she expect kids to?

      • jimchambers

        Please, re-read the post. I am not defending the teacher I am making a point about the reporting. I have other posts here explaining that to the author.

  • gnrnnr

    The liberal, left wing, socialist, democrats have a dual standard. Rules for us, nothing for them. That teacher should be fired! The student would have been expelled for having the fake gun in her backpack.

  • crustyone

    The authorities should have arrested and hauled the teacher away from the classroom in handcuffs to the jail where she could join the rest of the criminal population.

  • crustyone

    The teacher should be fired for having a toy gun on the school premises in the first place.

  • crustyone

    Was the teacher, Ms. Wilder, know as “wild thing” after that incident?

  • brewby

    The “concerned” mother wold have better served her daughter by asking just why the teacher felt it necessary to address her in such a manner. If I had ever driven a teacher to address me with a threat of anyting, a beating, suspension or a trip to the Principal’s office, my parents would have been far more interested in disciplining ME and seeing to it that I apologized to the teacher involved.

  • Nam1

    Where was the ADULT in the room on that day?

  • garysvent

    I thought that school was a zero-tolerance place when it came to guns. This is typical of liberal slight-of-hand: what’s good for the student is not good for the teacher. Do as I say, not as I do. I’m better than you, so I can do {whatever} while you can’t.

    You know if parents would get together and refuse to pay for a school system run like this, it would change; as soon as the principal got the message that her overpaid fanny was going to get fired too — she’s getting the big bucks, she’s responsible — it would change like Houdini’s best trick.

    Education is the only endeavor where if we fail, we fire the customer.

  • david

    we live in a world where all to many adults say “do as i say and not as i do” i was raised around this and as a child i had no respect for those kind of “grown ups” and to this day my parents still try to do it to their grand kids, its 100 percent useless and equally damaging to the child, but as you can see by this article some grownups just keep the problem alive from generation to generation and don’t figure it out.

  • Mark

    If a young child can be suspended for an imaginary gun, a supposedly adult teacher should be immediately removed from her position for a toy gun.

  • barto

    I don’t think we have heard the whole story regarding this, what did the girl do, how did the teacher get the toy gun, what if anything did she actually say to the girl. Last but not least consider the thought of being a teacher in a classroom wherein the students are not only disrespectful but can be somewhat threatening through actions and words toward you the adult that is supposed to be in charge AND most times very little if anything is done about it…..those little darlings can be very naughty and vile.

  • 9400budlang8406

    I certainly can’t condone what this teacher did. But after being in the classroom myself for almost 20 years I do understand how some students can bring you to the point of exasperation. In some schools discipline is so terrible you eventually get your fill and anger overtakes clear thinking. If parents could be a fly on the wall in some schools they would begin to understand how really nasty mouthed in your face some kids can get. There may be some history behind this no one knows about. And parents, your kids aren’t always the angels you think they they are. Some of the most vicious kids I have seen turn into lovable Cocker spaniels in front of their parents.

  • gavinwca

    School administration no longer performs discipline in the school anymore. When students are disruptive and the teacher takes the student to the administrator they stab the teacher in the back and demonstrate to the student that the teacher has no control over them, once the student tells their friends what happened they begin the same behavior. Then the administrator rides the teachers because they can not maintain classroom control. The main cause here is because there are 4 administrators to each classroom teacher and most of them have no classroom experience but that does not stop these over educated know nothing’s from telling the teachers how to do their jobs. No school discipline at all . Students who want to learn are at a total loss with no way to learn anything in that environment.

  • carlcasino

    All the facts are not in. What caused the teacher to react the way she did? I have been accused of “damaging a youngsters [self esteem] on a couple occasions. I tucked my tail and sauntered away. Both of these DAMAGED teens are now teen fathers with no skills and facing jail time for various felonies. I now cut no slack for my opinions. I was asked the other day by a teen for a job as a Air conditioning trainee. I told him I needed helpers with two arms & hands. His pants were below his cheeks and required one hand and arm to hold his pants up. I guess that makes me a racist ?

  • madmx

    What is a “play gun” doing in the school, in a teacher’s desk, or even the school grounds? How about any laws broken? More than one body needs to go to prison.

  • madmx

    We all need to know more. such as ; teacher, school, town, state,how to contact and a way to follow this up. the reasons are plenty,(see the comments below) with all the crap the “They” shovel to we the people every, tit for tat in in order!!

  • Fat Hubie

    According to some left wing news outlets, most students are heavily armed. She could get messed up badly waving a gun around in front of a classroom full of them.