By most accounts, Wes Ivie is a great kid.
By any account, Wes Ivie did something incredibly stupid.
He took a deer rifle to Evans High School on Monday, Oct. 20.
Then he took a deer rifle to school on Tuesday.
Then he took a deer rifle to school on Wednesday.
Then he took a deer rifle to school on Thursday.
Then he took a deer rifle to school on Friday.
On that fifth day of bringing a firearm on campus, during a "soft lockdown" search involving unrelated drug activity, someone wondered if the cops were going to search cars - and Ivie suddenly remembered the deer rifle he'd left in his SUV after a Sunday hunting trip.
Ivie then did something incredibly smart: He reported the gun to the school, which called the cops.
That's when a Columbia County sheriff's deputy did something incredibly generous: In spite of a stern and straightforward state law that prohibits bringing weapons within 1,000 feet of schools, the deputy did not charge Ivie - not even as a juvenile.
A school system hearing officer went easy on Ivie, too. Though he could have expelled Ivie for a calendar year, he instead gave Ivie long-term suspension with the option to attend the county's alternative school for the remaining five weeks of the semester. School board members upheld that reasonable penalty Tuesday.
Incredibly, after all these breaks, Ivie's mom and the popular student-athlete's many friends and supporters still think he's been treated too harshly. They contend that he should be rewarded for confessing, and that punishing students who turn themselves in will only deter other students from doing so.
Just a couple of problems: As far as anyone can tell, Ivie is the only one to ever turn himself in for having a gun on campus - and even that confession seems to have come only when he was afraid of getting caught. Punishing him won't deter other students from confessing, because they weren't doing it anyway.
Besides: When criminals plead guilt and admit their crimes, the judge doesn't just forgive them and turn them loose. Confession might be good for the soul, but it doesn't negate the offense.
What Ivie's mild punishment might do, though, is let good, solid students like him know that they are expected to obey the rules, too - especially if they have overwhelming support from family, friends, clergy and high school football teammates.
Keep in mind: Neither the law nor county policy say weapons can't be brought onto campus by kids with bad grades or no friends or rotten disciplinary records. There is no "good kid" exception in the law. It says weapons can't be brought onto a campus, period.
That's because intent isn't the only issue - it's availability, too. Ivie's memory about the gun was jogged by cops searching the school. It just as easily could have been triggered by a schoolyard argument. That's why the law aims at keeping guns off campus - even if locked up and unloaded.
Ivie indeed deserves praise for finally owning up to his violation. But the fact remains that he brought a rifle onto a Columbia County school campus for five straight days, yet was neither arrested nor expelled.
It is now incredibly galling to suggest that he deserves even more lenient treatment than he's already received.
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