The day after she graduated from Kent State, Kaitlin Bennett celebrated not only the event but her freedom from her school’s restrictions on her Second Amendment rights. She posted provocative photos — she was wearing a short white dress — on her Facebook page showing her carrying an AR-10 semiautomatic rifle and her graduation mortar board, which was inscribed with the words “Come and Take it!”
Now that I graduated from Kent State, I can finally arm myself on campus. I should have been able to do so as a student — especially since four unarmed students were shot and killed by the government on this campus [in 1970].
Not surprisingly, the combination of her pose, her posture, and her position caused her Facebook entry to go viral. On Tuesday she added:
I have no apologies for my graduation photos. As a woman, I refuse to be a victim & the Second Amendment ensures that I don’t have to be.
Although Ohio is an open-carry state, the Kent State administration has declared that the Second Amendment applies only to guests and visitors, not to students, faculty, or anyone doing business with the university. In an oddly worded declaration, the rule reads: “It is the policy of the university to prohibit the possession, storage, or use of a deadly weapon … [which] means any instrument, device, or thing … by students, staff, faculty, third parties doing business with the university, and visitors is prohibited inside any university building, facility, or vehicle, that is owned, operated or leased by the university.”
Everyone else is excluded from the rule, which, as of Sunday, May 13, included Kaitlin. And she took advantage of her newly available freedom. She has been a fearless defender and promoter of freedom ever since she arrived on campus, taking on the position of president of the school’s Liberty Hangout chapter. It may safely be concluded from viewing the chapter’s website that it promotes libertarian and freedom-oriented points of view, along with various tools of the trade, including shirts and hats emblazoned with such expressions as “Don’t Steal: the Government Hates Competition”; “Build the Wall”; “Taxation is Theft”; and so on.
Kaitlin knew exactly what she was doing. She told Fox19 NOW-WXIX on Wednesday: “I was a girl in a white dress with heels on, with an AR-10. That’s not what people picture as a gun advocate.” When asked about the response to her provocative photo, she said she has received hundreds of responses, e-mails. and tweets, not all of them supportive. When asked by Fox19 if she was afraid, Kaitlin responded: “No. I’m armed. I don’t know why they are threatening an armed woman. I don’t know why they are threatening anyone.”
Some of those tweets contain obscenities not appropriate for this venue, but a few that barely made it include:
If I ever saw u id beat the s**t out of u no need for a gun just my fist knocking some sense into ur brainless a**;
Ur so white trash someone needs to take u out … ur disgusting and my new number one enemy;
I hate white people imao [in my arrogant opinion] and by white people you know which white people im talking about; and
I’d rather kill a self entitled white bitch then [sic] let her think it’s okay to wave assault weapons on a college campus “because it’s my second amendment right.”
Kaitlin says her inbox has “blown up,” and so she can’t answer every one of these responses. But she did respond to the last one: “Wouldn’t it be awkward if the people calling my AR-10 in my grad photos an ‘assault rifle’ found out that assault rifles are banned & the AR-10 fires the same rate as any modern pistol? Don’t talk about gun control when you can’t even get your facts straight.”
And she did take time to be interviewed by Fox News on Thursday, a video that is now available on YouTube. When asked why she invited all this attention, some of it unpleasant, she said it was unfair that visitors and guests to the campus can go armed but students can’t. It’s as if, she said, “the administration cares more about the lives of guests than students.”
When asked why she carries, she said she wants to exercise her rights. She also carries as a reminder that a photographer from Liberty Hangout was assaulted while photographing an anti-gun demonstration on campus: “It wouldn’t have happened if he were allowed to carry to defend himself.”
When asked about the responses she has been getting, Kaitlin said she was surprised at the obscenities and the vitriol, the racism, and the death threats. But when asked about support she has received, she said her inbox is “blowing up” and her Twitter account “has 500,000 likes!”
When asked if she would do it again, Kaitlin said yes, absolutely, but next time “with a fully automatic machine gun. I wish that could be legal. I absolutely would do it again.”
When asked about what’s next in her life, Kaitlin said she is going to remain active on campus as she intends to continue to live nearby: “I’m going to continue my political activism on campus since I’ll continue living in the area. But this time I’ll be able to be armed.”
With all the publicity, she is getting job offers, including one from Blue Target Firearms in Cuyahoga Falls, less than 10 miles away.
As for Kent State, Eric Mansfield, executive director of media relations for the university, had this to say about guns on campus:
Kent State University was recently ranked the safest big college campus in Ohio and 25th safest in the country, according to the National Council for Home Safety and Security. The university has a full-time, certified police force of more than 30 sworn officers who protect the campus. These officers are visible, well-trained and on duty 24/7 in support of students, staff and faculty.
They’d better be. They’re trying to protect a student body of nearly 30,000 students (not one of whom is armed), and are therefore defenseless in the face of an attack, thanks to Kent State’s “gun free” rules.
Image of Kaitlin Bennett: Twitter