October 09, 2018
By David Codrea
“The Kent Campus will be the site of an open carry walk, organized by an outside group, on Saturday, Sept. 29, from 2-5 p.m.,” University Communications and Marketing advised students, faculty and staff. They were warning them about an event organized by the Liberty Hangout group with recent KSU alumnus and RKBA advocate Kaitlin Bennett. The “Gun Girl” attracted media attention over the summer with a photo that went viral in which she was carrying a slung AR-10 on campus for her graduation photo.
That’s something campus policy would have prohibited her from doing while still a student. Ohio law allows them to impose total infringements on students and employees and against concealed carry for all (all that are “law-abiding,” that is) if so dictated by a college’s board of trustees. Open carry by visitors on “public property” is “legal,” creating an unequal protection situation that should rightly be considered intolerable. The demonstration was intended to increase awareness, invite dialog and press for reforms to allow for lawful campus carry.
The university threw a wrench in Liberty Hangout’s plan to hold a rally with speakers by advising it would not be allowed due to a variety of bureaucratic excuses, including reservations would require a four-week notice, Liberty Hangout would have to pay for security costs, and university policy prohibited weapons at the planned campus site for the event.
The gun owner rights advocates threw the wrench right back with top spin. Bennett saw their policy and raised the law. The event would proceed as a walk because visitors can open carry. Despite its posturing, she called the university’s bluff.
This is No Drill
“Social media activity indicates that a significant number of supporters and counterprotesters may come to campus,” KSU’s alert continued. “The university is taking steps to manage the potential interaction of these groups and will have measures in place to maintain the safety of our university community.”
They weren’t kidding about measures. They closed the student center and library, and secured residence halls. They blocked off the main drag on the south side of the campus with trucks and Ohio State Troopers. To the casual visitor, it looked like there was no way in and trying would result in an interaction with a serious law enforcement presence, a factor that may have discouraged unknown numbers of outsiders unfamiliar with the campus from pressing onward.
Let me make this personal.
I decided, as I have on other pro-gun events I’ve covered, that I was going to do so as a chronicler, not as a demonstrator. I also decided that I would focus on my impressions – plenty of others would be interviewing participants on both sides. Aside from talking to a few troopers when I was trying to locate where people were congregating and how to get there past the roadblocks, I purposely limited brief conversations to two people, which I’ll get to at the end.
Being an alumnus myself, I know how to get around the campus. We also had political divisiveness in those days, as the words “Kent State” practically scream. That’s a bit of cognitive dissonance from “progressive” academia today that makes no sense to me: Unarmed students were shot by government troops, yet the students opposed to the Liberty Hangout activists were there to demand that everyone be disarmed under force of government arms. What could be a more egalitarian power-sharing arrangement than the right of the people to keep and bear arms?
That they’re against that is a pretty good sign that what we’re really dealing with are fraudulent control freaks and budding totalitarians, that is, those who dream of being able to send troops out themselves.
Long story short, after wending my way through and around the campus, I reached the parking lot where the Open Carry Walk was assembling. At this point there were no opposing protestors, but then I noticed why. At the edge of the lot and standing in formation were dozens of Ohio State Troopers wearing black riot gear.
I juxtaposed that against the citizens who came to support the Bill of Rights, some armed, some carrying flags and signs, and my immediate thought was they didn’t need these cops because of the freedom marchers.
I walked around taking pictures wearing a “PRESS” badge I’d received on another assignment. I soon noticed the “Gun Girl” herself, Kaitlin Bennett talking to media and then giving the marchers some encouraging words about showing who they are by example and trying to establish a dialog as they prepared to venture out of the parking lot.
I hesitate to build any personality up, because this shouldn’t be about that, but I’ve got to admit that is a dynamic young lady. She’s a natural for media, attractive, articulate, confident, engaging and versed in her arguments. I also noticed a readiness to smile and an air of unflappability. Too many activists can be seen as humorless because that’s how they come across, so add “likeable” to her qualities list, which is important. And naturally, leave it to those opposing what she stands for to smear her as crazy, hateful and worse.
The walk commenced with troopers leading the way, crossing the street to enter the main campus. There, “counterprotestors” began converging, walking quickly, looking for all the world like stalking predators preparing to attack. I saw black hoodies and bandanas. The troopers picked up the pace.
The procession made it a couple hundred yards up an esplanade to come to a halt at the circle by Bowman Hall (you can call up maps of KSU on the internet if interested). The “progressives” decided to block further progress. The only way past was through, and the cops placed themselves between those who wanted to walk freely, as is their right, and those determined to impose their will and physically prevent it.
About that ‘national conversation on guns’...
The gun-grabbers have lamented that they wish to have a discussion and gun owners just won’t cooperate. Maybe that’s because experience has shown us our attempts to educate and inform are met with closed minds devolving into insults and worse. The intent of those who would mandate disarmament is to lecture, not converse, and to dictate to gun owners the terms of their surrender.
“This is ... an ongoing series, where I will attempt to demonstrate how contentious any discussion on gun restrictions is, and how difficult it can be to engage in civilized, honest, and open conversation,” former Brady Campaign President Paul Helmke complained in his 2007 “Reasoned Discourse” blog column. To “prove” his point he posted cherry-picked comments where gun owners told him what they thought of him, and curiously, rough language by some aside, it’s difficult to find any falsehoods in his critics’ claims.
“The purpose of being here was originally to hold a rally where ... gun rights activists could talk to students and kind of answer their questions for them,”Bennett explained to a Fox 8 reporter. “The students have a lot of questions about guns and gun rights in general, especially with the climate that we have. The original intent of this event was to have a rally so that interaction could happen.”
What kind of interactions were the counterprotestors interested in?
“F*** YOU, KAITLIN!” one “man” screamed.
“F*** YOU!” raged another holding a “HATE PLUS GUNS EQUALS TERORRISM” sign. “TAKE OFF THE (unintelligible) YOU F*GG*T! BITE ME! COME HERE!”
So much for “progressive” life choices tolerance. By way of contrast, someone from the pro-gun side was holding a “Gun Rights are Gay Rights” sign.
“BLACK LIVES MATTER! BLACK LIVES MATTER!” a group of mostly white girls chanted (prompting a woman of color on the pro-gun side to respond “Get a gun if your life matters!”
“NO TRUMP, NO KKK, NO FASICST USA!” a group chanted.
And of course, what anti-gun counterprotest would be the same without the obligatory sign accusing gun owners of having inadequate penises?
This said, there’s an observation I need to share: True fanatics, those who dressed and behaved like hard core, violence-prone radical thugs, were decidedly in the minority of counterprotestors. While that contingent had its share of the impressionable, I had the sense that the level of commitment by most was superficial. The gun owners, on the other hand, appeared dedicated to the last.
Who were the cops needed for?
As I said before, and as Bennett noted to the media, they weren’t needed because of the pro-gunners. There were arrests for disorderly conduct and assault on a police officer, all of ANTIFA types.
At one point, the masked anarchists began shoving at and scuffling with police. I later saw one of their ranks on the ground awaiting medical attention for a wound on his forehead, hands zip-tied behind his back and surrounded by troopers. One of his shrieking masked comrades, a woman, I believe, did a passable impression of Trigglypuff (a screaming Social Justice Warrior you need to Google to believe) as she tried to break through the cordon, shrieking at police who were understandably preventing access to a detainee in need of medical attention.
After a bit the gun rights advocates decided to regroup back in the parking lot where they had begun the walk. Cops went with them and continued keeping the main bodies separated, although I did witness (and record) a telling interaction.
“Right to keep and bear arms advocate, woman of color and Ghanian immigrant/proud American Princess Kuevor is confronted by rude and racist citizen disarmament proponent who insults her, chides ‘Work for the white folks,’ refers to herself as a ‘Field N**** and then calls Kuevor a ‘House N****,’" I wrote as a description to the YouTube video I posted of the encounter. So much for daring to not embrace a stereotype. So much for daring to be an individual, which if you think about it, is something the totalitarian-minded would need to stamp out. So much for freedom advocates being the racists.
I next sought out Bennett for a comment, figuring that was an appropriate way to end my coverage of the event. As it turns out, it’s also an appropriate ending for this report.
“The left came out and showed us who they really were,” she replied.”How much more do [students] really need to see of this before they’re ready to stand up for themselves?”
David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating / defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament. In addition to being a field editor/columnist at GUNS Magazine, a featured contributor to AmmoLand, contributor to Firearms News website and magazine, and associate editor for Oath Keepers, he blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance” and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.