RENO, NEVADA — An eighth grade student has filed a lawsuit against the Washoe County School District after he was punished for wearing a pro-gun shirt that officials said violated the district’s dress code.

The federal lawsuit, filed Tuesday morning in U.S. District Court in Reno, alleges that the school district’s dress code, which prohibits depictions of “anything that promotes weapons,” is a violation of the student’s First Amendment rights, The Reno Gazette Journal reports.

“This lawsuit challenges, at its core, the school district’s policy which we believe is unconstitutionally overbroad and violates the First Amendment on its face,” said Brandon Combs, president of the Firearms Policy Coalition.


The Washoe County dress code prohibits depictions of “anything that promotes weapons … or violence,” according to its website. In the lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday morning, the student – identified as G.M. – said the school district was violating his First Amendment rights.

“This lawsuit challenges, at its core, the school district’s policy which we believe is unconstitutionally overbroad and violates the First Amendment on its face,” Brandon Combs, president of the Firearms Policy Coalition said to the Reno Gazette Journal.

The student, who attends Depoali Middle School, is identified in the lawsuit only by his initials, “G.M.,” but a press release from the Firearms Policy Coalition identifies his mother as local police dispatcher Audrey Guardanapo and his father as former law enforcement officer and U.S. Marine veteran Shaun Guardanapo.

FOX News reports that in the initial incident, G.M. was wearing a shirt from a local gun store, Spark Black Rifle, which depicted the store’s logo of a rifle and handgun silhouette, according to the report.


The second time, G.M. was disciplined for wearing a shirt supporting the Firearms Policy Coalition. The T-shirt featured a coiled rattlesnake with the words “Don’t Tread on Me,” as well as references to the Second Amendment. However, the shirt itself did not include any imagery of guns.

According to the lawsuit, a teacher told the student to cover the shirt. The student allegedly replied that he could express himself through how he dressed. G.M. claimed he then was warned of further disciplinary action if he wore the clothing item again.

“The shirt did not promote or advocate illegal activity; it contained no violent or offensive imagery; nothing on it was obscene, vulgar or profane … And yet (the student) was prevented from wearing his shirt based on school officials’ disagreement with the message they believe it conveyed,” the lawsuit stated.

The lawsuit reportedly was filed by G.M. through his parents, identified in the suit as mother Audrey Guardanapo, a local police dispatcher, and father Shaun Guardanapo, a former law enforcement officer and U.S. Marine veteran. The Reno Gazette reported the nonprofit organizations Firearms Policy Foundation and the Firearms Policy Coalition backed the student’s lawsuit.

School District spokeswoman Megan Downs said school officials were reviewing the allegations but did not have any immediate comment.

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