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Students, faculty question Ohio State’s response to open-carry protesters

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Students and faculty gather in University President Drake's office on Dec. 7. Credit: Nick Roll | Campus Editor

Students and faculty gather in University President Drake’s office on Dec. 7. Credit: Nick Roll | Campus Editor

After a group of protesters came through campus on Monday openly carrying firearms in a move to protest Ohio and Ohio State gun policies, a similarly sized group of students gathered on Wednesday to critique the university’s response to the protesters.

About 15 students, faculty and Columbus residents gathered outside Bricker Hall at 1 p.m. to ask for a statement from University President Michael Drake condemning the protesters as well as the bringing of assault weapons on campus. After walking inside Bricker and reaching the president’s office, they were turned away by a secretary, who said they could work with the existing scheduling system to set up a meeting.

Austin Kocher, the student who organized the group, said he sent a notice in to Drake on Wednesday morning announcing they would be there, as well as asking for a meeting. Although he said he didn’t necessarily expected reach Drake, he said there was a sense of urgency created by Monday’s protest that spurred him to act anyway.

“(Today’s event) is not so much a protest but a call on President Drake to take a position on assault weapons on campus,” said Kocher, a doctoral candidate in geography. “We want clarification from the highest office on campus, is that OK for our campus?”

Despite the reservations expressed from the students and faculty gathered on Wednesday, at least one student stopped the armed protesters on Monday to thank them, saying they made him feel more safe, and highlighting the divide that surrounds gun rights and safety.

Drake did recently speak out during a segment on WOSU against House Bill 48, pending legislation in the Ohio Statehouse, which would allow for public colleges to opt in to allow concealed carry on campus. Monday’s open-carry protesters were in favor of the legislation. Kocher said he thought Drake should voice more opposition, as well as opposition to open carrying on campus, even if it is protected by law. Students, by way of the OSU’s Student Code of Conduct, are prohibited from openly carrying, and Monday’s protesters were non-students.

“There’s a number of issues,” Kocher said. “I think, the larger policy point is, the policy on weapons is not clear. Most people are not familiar with it, most people think this is a gun-free zone. If that’s not the case, then our campus needs to clarify what the policy is, and to warn people that it’s legal for people to carry assault rifles.”

Kocher, as well as others, also questioned the university’s response to the protest. Many of the students and faculty gathered wondered why an email wasn’t sent out to students to alert them of protesters walking through campus with firearms, or why there wasn’t a police presence closer to the protesters. Police cars were present, but were often not immediately next to the protesters, and there were no officers on foot.

“Every single rally I’ve been to, even this one, there’s a heavy police presence,” said Madeline Conway, a third-year in art and technology, who brought up the three officers present in Bricker Hall Wednesday afternoon. “And then, literally when there’s a dozen or so people with assault rifles, the cops are a block away.”

Spokesmen for the university and OSU’s Office of Administration and Planning, which oversees the Department of Public Safety, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

18 comments

  1. Yes, Austin Kocher, gun carry is OK for Ohio and its college campuses. As the US Supreme Court held in DC v. Heller (2008), The Second Amendment “guarantee[s] the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.”

    Learn more about open carry at OpenCarry.org. And carry on!

    • “All weapons, including licensed concealed carry weapons, are prohibited on OSU owned or leased property.” -official notice posted on our buildings ( I’d post the picture if I could for ya)

  2. There was an email sent about the protest. The on campus weekly email that goes out on Sunday included information to warn about the protest. This should be updated.

  3. It is really interesting to see college-age folks confusing their feelings (whether it’s discomfort, anger or range) with rights. Apparently they are unable to tell the difference. Here, I can clarify this for you using bullet points:

    1. A free human being owns himself/herself; it’s a fundamental human right to self-ownership.
    2. Thus a free human being also has a fundamental human right to defend himself/herself as they own themselves.
    3. Therefore, anyone who is arguing against self defense is in essence arguing against self-ownership.

    See, that’s not very complicated. Your feelings about firearms do not override the rights other human beings have. In the real world, outside of your college safe spaces you will have to learn to cope with your feelings when other people ignore them. Because your feelings don’t matter. Rights matter.

    • Get past your baseless hate of others’ opinions and question what happens when “rights” conflict with “laws” and what the students are actually arguing for.

    • Choosing to organize an event where you and your friends flaunt your personal arsenals around a college campus, one that you are not affiliated with in any way, has nothing to do with defending yourself.

  4. The fact that you used the editorialized term “assault weapon” in this piece shows a lack of research, knowledge and journalistic integrity regarding the issue.

  5. These idiot students wouldn’t know the difference between an assault weapon or a semi-automatic firearm if it had bit them in the ass!

    • Actually “assault weapons” are ALL semiauto. It’s just not an industry term; it’s a term made up by those who banned them.

    • Sorry we’re too busy studying law, engineering, physics, political science, philosophy, medicine, etc.

      • Really? Judging by the behavior of protesting college students over the past month, I’d say you’re busy studying whining, sore losing, entitlement, demanding your way, shutting down anyone who disagrees with you, etc. In other words, advanced learning on how to be perfect spoiled brats.

  6. There would have been a heavy police presence following the group if they were people of color and probable arrests. Since they were white we are to inherently trust they will not not shoot anyone. The double standard is ridiculous.

  7. The Dec. 4th On Campus Weekly email sent to students’ OSU email address contained notification of this event. There was a whole headline and paragraph explaining that the walk was taking place on and near campus on Monday. It said the time of the event, that the university was aware of the event, and that there would be police presence during the event. It is the complaining students’ fault for not knowing, because they evidently brushed off and did not read the information in the email. This article does not address the fact that notice was given. More students may have paid attention if the information was in a stand alone email, but it’s not the university’s fault that students did not pay attention to the notice they were given.

  8. Carlos Spicyweiner

    The reason there was not as much police presence is simple. Despite the fact that leftists think that gun carrying citizens are crazed murderers in wait, they are generally responsible, professional, and respectful. There are rules when carrying. Always treat the weapon as if it is loaded, keep your weapon cleaned and maintained. Maintain muzzle awareness. Fill out paperwork and get background data provided so that you are registered as a responsible adult. It is reminiscent of what some call profiling in a vehicle. A nice, well maintained vehicle gives the appearance of actually caring about it. A haircut, shave and clean, pressed clothes implies professionalism. Its not a task, or an action, its a lifestyle. If you can’t recognize professional actions, then that’s probably the reason that you don’t own or understand firearms.

    • The police shouldn’t be profiling anyone, especially not based on class status (as your argument suggests, a nicer car, better clothes, more frequent haircuts, etc.) None of that indicates your a more lawful righteous person. It just means you have more money.

  9. I don’t blame these students for feeling unsafe when they see armed nonstudents walking onto their campus. That’s because their asinine Code of Conduct keeps the students themselves unarmed. They should demand that their administrators lobby the Legislature to give them their rights back! Maybe the present injustice is what the protesters were trying to get the students “woke” about. Not all nonstudents who cross onto campus grounds will openly announce their arrival, display any weapons they are carrying, and behave with such pure intentions toward the students.

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