TUPPER LAKE — The Tupper Lake Sports Club has decided to pull its advertisement from the Tupper Lake High School’s yearbook after the school rejected its Second-Amendment-based ad on the grounds that it was too partisan or controversial for a yearbook.
The half-page ad, from the sports club, formerly the Tupper Lake Rod and Gun Club, according to school district Superintendent Seth McGowan, read, “Congratulations Class of 2019. Second Amendment” and then stated the Second Amendment: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
A Facebook post by Sports Club President Dave McMahon collected 185 comments, 155 reactions and 75 shares by Friday evening.
“We felt it wasn’t political at all,” Sports Club Treasurer Martin Brown said in a phone interview.
McGowan said he gave the club a rewritten version of the ad which read: “Congratulations, Class of 2019. From your friends at the Tupper Lake Sports Club, proud supporters of the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights.”
Brown said the club’s board wanted to run the original version, not the revised one, and ultimately made the decision to pull the ad altogether.
“There’s nothing political or partisan about the United States Constitution,” McGowan said.
However, there is school board policy on advertising in schools, which he said is rooted in New York state law. He said the ad was determined to be a “promotion of debate from one side of the issue.” He said the board ultimately did not make the decision to approve or disapprove the ad. The action lies with him, specifically, but he said he is just enforcing the rules.
“Personally, I fully understand,” Brown said. “They have to follow the Board of Regents’ rules.”
McGowan said he respects the club’s advocacy for the Second Amendment, but the yearbook was not the right forum.
“It was clearly a departure from every other ad that we’ve ever seen in the yearbook,” McGowan said McGowan said he looked through 20 years of yearbooks for something similar and couldn’t find anything.
While debate heated up on Facebook, Brown and McGowan referred to the conversations they’ve had together as being “professional.”
The school and club have worked together for years with joint archery classes. McGowan said the school’s archery team is going to a state competition next week.
McGowan said if the school allowed one ad, determined to be supporting a debate from one side, it would open the door to countless more in the future. He said next year someone could try to print an anti-Second Amendment ad, and if they were rejected that could be grounds for a lawsuit.
“In and of itself — the Second Amendment, the Bill of Rights, the U.S. Constitution — zero controversy about it. However, it has become politicized,” McGowan said.