Actor Joseph C. Phillips: Teacher Threatened My Son, Questioned His Mental State Over Photo Of BB Gun

In California, gun hysteria has reached such fanatical heights that teachers now feel empowered to confiscate student property, disregard their privacy, question their mental state and threaten police action – in front of other students. All have happened to the son of actor and entrepreneur Joseph C. Phillips, at El Camino Real Charter High School in Woodland Hills, CA.

Phillips, best known for his role as Lt. Martin Kendall on The Cosby Show, lives with his wife and three sons in the San Fernando Valley. In addition to being a regular fill-in host for Larry Elder on KABC radio in Los Angeles, he owns Daddy J’s Wingshack, where his 15-year-old son works and earned the money for an Airsoft bb gun. Last week his son brought a digital camera to school to show his friends a picture of the Airsoft.

On my radio show Saturday, Phillips explained that as his son was showing off the single photo, his Social Studies teacher, a Mr. James DeLarme, walked by. As his son described the incident, DeLarme “snatched” the camera out of his hand and asked him about the photo. When his son explained that it was a picture of an Airsoft bb gun, DeLarme declared the police would have to be notified and promptly left the room to confer with another teacher. The two teachers scrolled through all the photos on the camera, finally handing it back to the boy. Then, in front of all the students, DeLarme asked him, “Do you have any animosity towards your classmates?” and “Are you angry at anyone at school?”

Listen to the full interview here.

The school never notified Phillips or his wife. He learned about the incident from his son five days later. Phillips is livid:

…I’m not sure he’s qualified to teach social studies. He certainly isn’t qualified to psychoanalyze my kid. Looking through the photographs…what are they looking for? What are they qualified to determine by any other images on this camera? Tony, it is ridiculous.

It turns out that DeLarme has been public about his opposition to gun ownership. In an interview with the school paper, The King’s Courier, in the aftermath of Sandy Hook, he said “…our country’s position on gun control and violence is what makes such situations probable.”

Phillips spoke of the current anti-gun hysteria:

You see, Tony, and this is the reason I called you… I know there is sensitivity now about children coming into the school, shooting up their classmates. I get that. But at a certain point, people have to stand up and say “Enough with the hysteria! Enough is enough!” We are not going to sacrifice the dignity of our children, our own dignity… What they (the school) did is not keeping anyone safe.

Furious at the way his son had been treated, Phillips wrote a letter to the principal, Mr. David Fehte:

It may come as a shock to Mr. DeLarme, It may even be news to you, but my son is not the only boy in Woodland Hills with a BB gun.  There are quite a few boys attending your school who not only own BB guns, but own real guns as well. (Some of them play air soft with my son!) Their fathers, mothers, and brothers also own guns and shoot regularly.  Owning a gun is NOT a sign of mental illness.  Owning a BB gun is NOT an indication of mental instability! Certainly, showing friends a photograph of a gun is NOT a warning sign that a student is a potential danger to his classmates! I object, in the strongest of terms, to my son being treated as a potential danger and to his being threatened with law enforcement.  I further object to not being notified!  If Mr. DeLarme truly believed my son presented a danger, both my wife and I should have been notified immediately!

Rather than respond himself, Fehte dispatched a vice principal to answer Phillips’ letter. The vice-principal claimed, according to Phillips, that the teacher had done the right thing to, “secure the safety of the 3,000 students and the 250 faculty members at the school.” Secure their safety from what? A photo?

One wonders how many other El Camino Real High School students are being threatened and humiliated by their teachers, and how many parents are likewise uninformed.

About the Author
Tony Katz is the host of The Morning News with Tony Katz on 93.1FM WIBC (Indianapolis.) Working his way through current events and pop culture, Tony entertainingly exposes media hypocrisy and makes the complex easy to understand. Different than other talk show hosts, Tony focuses on right vs. wrong, instead of right vs. left. Follow him on Twitter @tonykatz. Listen to Tony Katz Monday - Friday, 5-9am on 93.1FM WIBC and

57 comments on Actor Joseph C. Phillips: Teacher Threatened My Son, Questioned His Mental State Over Photo Of BB Gun

  1. George Orwell says:

    Looking on from up north of your country what is obvious to me is paranoia has gripped your society. You now fear your neighbors. Someone had better root out and expose the architects behind this social re-engineering and do it soon!

    The speed at which America is throwing away freedom is frightening.

  2. michelle says:

    These types of incidences need to be taken to court for harrassement. How dare they do this to our children! What kind of offense have these kids committed? They have done nothing illegal. They have made no threat, nobody has made a complaint. I would get my child a lawyer.

  3. JKB says:

    I suspect the parents weren’t notified because the goal is not safety but to demonize guns. Otherwise, why would schools freak out over pictures, drawings, or pop tarts bitten nibbled into a gun shape?

    Try just suggesting that we should have mandatory “gun proofing” of children. Just a program to teach kids how to identify real guns and how to handle them if they must move one found, perhaps, thrown away by a criminal or left in a bathroom stall by a police officer. Not how to shoot, just the differences between real guns and those they are inundated with on TV, in movies and video games. Just the first 3 rules: all guns are loaded, never put your finger on the trigger until ready to fire, never point it at anyone or anything you aren’t willing to destroy. Besides empowering kids to handle situation where they encounter an unattended gun, it also is the first step to safely enjoying the 2nd Amendment.

    You’ll find that the Left, Progressives, whatever they are called, come out of the woodwork over the very idea a gun might be treated as something other than the devil.

  4. jan says:

    This has GONE too far!

  5. Isn’t being black in Woodland Hills with a picture of a BB gun pretty much a de facto felony out there? Sort of like BBBH? (Being Black in Beverly Hills, per the BHPD.

    You should ask around the other parents. This sort of bureaucratic bullying is NOT rare. It’s an easy way to look like you’re doing your job without doing your job.

    This week in Florida three students tackled and disarmed a gunman on their bus. They were suspended.

    They want us hesitant, afraid, intimidated. Passive victims are easier to govern.

  6. Dave Carter says:

    Something very similar to this happened at my sons’ school. Everyone is over-reacting and treating adolescents and teens as terrorist in this knee-jerk to other incidents. Guns are not evil. People are evil. Having a pastry shaped like a gun, drawing a picture of a gun and having a photo of you holding a gun do not make you evil. Using a gun for evil makes you evil.

  7. Tamminator says:

    Absolute lunacy.

  8. cris conner says:

    Mr. Phillips should immediately remove his son from this school and forego any and all Public school systems. They are not educating. They are re-educating with a socialistic fury and a collective mentality.

  9. Rex May says:

    You can’t make stuff like this up. When I was a kid, you got a BB gun for your 7th birthday. I’ve quoted from this and linked to it with commentary here:
    BB Afraid! — BB VERY Afraid!

  10. George B says:

    It is time to start sacking administrators of these schools. They are so blinded by their ideology that they have lost all sense of reality.

  11. Doug Long says:

    Would like permission to repost on my blog. Will give full attribution.

    This story is, unfortunately, all to common. The silent majority must stand up and put the fear mongers in their place and make it clear we will not stand for the trampling of constitutional rights on the whim of any authority figure.

  12. Pablo says:

    the only mental disorder here is liberalism!

  13. banshee says:

    We have entirely too many brainless bureaucrats in our schools. Get rid of them.

  14. banshee says:

    What the teachers did sounds like assault to me.

  15. Chelsie says:

    Guns are not an issue in this country. It’s moral decay. Parents are so uninvolved with their children. They are lacking a sensitivity and crucial relationships when mothers send their 6 week old to a day care while they go work to help pay for their 3 cars, cable, iphones and other junk. People use the excuses “not everyone has that option” or “we have bills to pay”. It’s not an excuse. If you can’t afford to have all those things while raising your children-don’t buy them. Since when did it become okay for children to be sent to a daycare to be raised? Since when did women start leaving their 4-6 month old babies in their cribs to “cry it out” because they want to sleep at night and make their job easier? I think a lot of the “moral decay” is coming from parents not adequatly raising and bonding with their children. Therefore, we get more and more people who have no sensitity towards other human beings. That’s my theory.

  16. Daniel says:

    Well, to the untrained eye, it looks like a bona fide AR. i don’t blame the teacher at all. erring on the side of caution never hurt anyone.

  17. Judy says:

    I guess these teachers are related to the students in Arizona who felt threatened by a Chick-fil-a.
    They are certainly equal in brains, common sense. I am very happy my children are past the age of attendance in a public school. I do not think I could remain calm in the face of such blatant idiocy!

  18. Doc Killian says:

    The very first thing (out of MANY) is why the teacher “snatched” the camera out of his hand…You can’t go to the principals office and call the parents ??? THATS the first of MANY questions I have !!!

  19. David Rubell says:

    I suppose the next great panic in this country will be over camera control

  20. Denise says:

    Sadly, educators have a one size fits all mentality and hence their ability for independent thought has vanished. I am proud to know how you handled this matter and there are an estimated million people across this land who stand with you. The next challenge would be to actually force the teacher and the school elites to teach the actual history of the 2nd Amendment. It would likely be a real shocker to them and for that matter every lawmaker across the land. Well done sir and best wishes to your son.

  21. James says:

    Ha, well, he wasn’t suspended, expelled, or the cops called. Shouldn’t we be thankful for small favors the government protected goons grant us? Good thing he wasn’t eating a poptart at the time or pointed a finger at someone. It’s hard to believe what we have become.

  22. Cyndi says:

    This is getting out of hand. I raised two children and many more stayed at my home. I am a retired police officer of 30 years. Not one time did my children or any other child touched my guns. You have to talk about them and what can happen with them. Obama is using the Shooting at Sandy Hook to get the Country in a up wore to take the watchful eyes of Americans how he is destroying the United States. A child speaking of a BB is not something that needs media attention.

  23. Joy Schrier says:

    The country has gone crazy. If anyone is showing signs of mental illness it was the teacher, along with the school principle and vice principle. Why does everyone going way to far. Our poor children. There’s as much damage being done with Big Brother watching as a gun tooting sick person. This has got to stop.

  24. Bob says:

    the teacher had done the right thing to, “secure the safety of the 3,000 students and the 250 faculty members at the school.”

    Protect them from a photo, or prevent them from having unapproved thoughts? Do they give these educators an IQ test and disqualify them if they score too high?
    Some of us thought Orwell’s 1984 was a warning. It appears that the liberal left thinks it’s a set of directions. You and other parents need to be in front of the principle and school board vigorously complaining about things like this.

  25. Tony Katz says:

    I appreciate the attribution. Thank you.

    – Tony

  26. Walter says:

    What next? Outlaw cowboy and police shows on TV? Ban staple “guns”? Make calling someone a sonuvagun a felony?

    I suspect the limp-wristed teacher couldn’t tell an airsoft bb gun from “an assault weapon” (that’s what all guns are, right?), peed himself when he saw a picture of a toy, then ran away to do what he thought was the right thing. But it’s people like that, with a phobia for firearms and a belief that badness can be legislated away, that drive the hysteria to disarm law-abiding citizens which, ironically, makes the society safer only for the bad guys who can now rob and plunder without fear.

  27. Spurwing Plover says:

    A liberal leftists teacher and no doupt a memeber of the leftists NEA

  28. Walter says:

    That being said…

    In one sense I can’t blame the school for being cautious – it’s hard to know when you overdo it but you know immediately (after the fact) when you fall short. No school wants to be the next Sandy Hook.

    But SH was a continent away and that shooter is dead. Bad news is a virus. Did they over-react? I think so, especially in front of the other students. Was looking through all of his pictures a violation? That I don’t know. Depends on local laws and school rules. Should the parents have been notified? ABSOLUTELY!

  29. raynebc says:

    These teachers are so paranoid that they can’t think or act like sane, logical people, yet they question their students’ mental states? I’m glad I’m not a student anymore, I don’t have to worry about all this liberal brainwash affecting me.

  30. E c Fulcher says:

    That is WAY over the line. I hope you legally go after that school and teacher with all fevor. That’s terrible. I’m with you on this. The gun ciontrol thing is way out of hand and the 2nd Amm is being destroyed..

  31. Sal Acosta says:

    Mr. Phillips should not let this go or accept the admin’s ridiculous reaction to his letter. Instead he should march into that principals office (don’t bother trying to set an appointment as they will just try to dodge) with his lawyer and threaten to file a lawsuit against the school and specifically that teacher for aiding and abetting civil rights violations, felony theft, physical and mental abuse and invasion of privacy (all felony offenses). He should also threaten to make all of this VERY public. Speaking from personal experience dealing with the L.A. public school system, I guarantee those authoritarian bullies will change their tune immediately especially when they learn how much airtime access Mr. Phillips has to public radio.

  32. Cargosquid says:

    I’m just glad I live in Virginia. My daughter’s 6th grade teacher was asking me about guns too…as in what should she get!

  33. Mr.Ripper says:

    Mr.Phillips should contact one of the California attorneys on the site.

  34. Pseudolus says:

    So if this kid had a picture of a kitchen knife, baseball bat, nuclear sub, or death star, would the teacher be securing the safety of the 3000 students and 250 faculty? Same argument!

    “Do you have any animosity toward your fellow student?” No, only Alderaan!

  35. When common sense takes leave of our teachers our children’s safety is at risk. The over reaction to a picture of a gun, potentially, holds the same mental instability in the teacher as is in those individuals who commit to mass murders. Is the teacher mentally stable enough to be among our children?

  36. Tom says:

    There is a difference between gun rights and SCHOOL RULES. When you’re 15, you have no rights, only the privileges adults give you. Showing people a picture of a weapon in school is not a right.

  37. Bll Hom says:

    This is an over reaction on both sides. Everybody step back take a breath. Should the teacher have taken the camera? Questionable, but he did give it back. Could he have used more tact in asking his questions? Absolutely. Should he have notified his parent? Yes, and maybe even before asking those questions so that the parents were present. Have the teacher apologize to the student and parents and call it a day. This is America. We have many freedoms which include the right to bear arms as well as the right to speak out about how we bear them. Both sides need to work it for the better of this country.

  38. Roger T. says:

    It’s to bad common sense can’t be entered in this senerio. It starts at the top. Our Government officials could not effectively prosper a “Cool-Aid stand”. And there is plenty of proof to back it up. Wake-up Americans. They’ve even brainwashed the teachers of our children. I can only imagine what they are teaching. God Bless America.

  39. James says:

    I would have to ask where this teacher went to medical school, and for how long he’s had a license to practice medicine? I mean… if you’re going to be diagnosing a student’s mental health, shouldn’t you have the credentials to back it up?

  40. Jackson TX says:

    What can you say about this incident that could describe the idiocy of it any clearer? This so-called “teacher” needs a lesson of his own. You sir, are employed by we the people to educate our children; not endoctrinate them or instill your twisted values and opinions in them. Get smart or get lost.

  41. JRP says:

    The Teachers that are so anti-gun and pro gun control should move to one of the countries where citizens are not allowed to own guns (for protection and sport)and the criminals and government are the ones doing all of the shooting….

  42. Bat says:


    When my dad was a kid, living on a farm in south east Iowa, he walked the 3 or 4 miles to school each day carrying his .22 rifle. A lot of the other kids did, too. This was so that if he saw a squirrel or rabbit, he could shoot it and bring it home for inclusion in the stew pot. They never had any school shootings in those days. And although there might have been an occasional incident of fisticuffs among boys, it didn’t go beyond that and they usually ended up being friends afterwards.

    It’s not the guns. It’s the sick culture and the abandonment of moral principles being pushed by the Left.

  43. Joyce Garcia says:

    This is the Progressive mentality in the raw! It has no boundaries and is a direct threat of our freedoms! This is about the confiscation of guns, a threat of our 2nd Amendment right to defend ourselves. If it were about keeping our children safe, hundreds of stupid stories like this would not be popping up all over the Nation….DAILY!

    If it were not about a direct threat to our 2nd Amendment rights, American Citizens would not be dismissed and disrespected by US Govt Officials, both Democratic and Republican, in legitimate govt sessions like this one:

    This is a wake up call…PERIOD!

  44. tommy fox says:

    deLarme is a retread from another school. They let him go – he has tenor sp. so this school hired him. Check him out.

  45. Bruce Davis says:

    When I was a kid, when you got a new gun for Xmas or your birthday, you could bring it to school for show and tell. Of course, at that time the teacher could still whack yer ass if you did not behave, and if you were really bad, you got to go see the Principal, and he applied the Board of Education to your bony little backside, A lot of my teachers in JH & HS were WW2 vets, and a couple were ring knockers. It was pretty common to go hunting or out to the range with them, because everybody knew each other. My HS Geometry teacher was a ret. Col,USA. His nameplate on his desk had 2 German bayonets stuck in the ends, and he kept a 1911 in his desk drawer. Try that now.(of course, he used to throw chalkboard eraser at you and call you stupid, but boty, did I learn how geometry, and how to use a slipstick on top of it

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