NC Professor: If Anthem Protest is OK, I'll Carry My Handgun on Campus

NC Professor: If Anthem Protest is OK, I'll Carry My Handgun on Campus
Dr. Tracy Tuten.Twitter photo

It’s not very often you see a college professor openly advocate gun ownership, let alone concealed carry, but East Carolina University Professor Dr. Tracy Tuten says she wants to be able to carry her firearm at school and that she intends to exercise her right to bear arms, regardless of state laws that say she can’t.

North Carolina is one of only 18 states that currently ban carrying a concealed firearm on college campuses. Tuten says she never owned a gun until she needed to protect herself from a student stalker several years ago. Now, she says she wants to be able to protect herself while she's at work, according to this story from the Washington Post.

Tuten first spoke of her opinions about a week ago, the story says, when members of the school's marching band kneeled during the national anthem to protest police shootings of African Americans, a trend started by NFL player Colin Kaepernick at the beginning of the 2016 football season.

When the university's chancellor issued a statement supporting the students' right to express themselves guaranteed by the First Amendment, Tuten sent him an email saying she will exercise her Second Amendment right to bear arms, the story says.

"If the university is going to allow people to break the rules in the name of constitutional rights, all rights should be supported," she said in an email to the Post. "This is where I come in…My argument is that the university should support all rights."

She was contacted by the school and told what she planned to do was illegal.

"While I can appreciate Dr. Tuten's intent to bring attention to constitutional discussions, carrying a handgun on campus property in a manner in which she described is currently prohibited by state law," Interim Police Chief Jason Sugg said in a statement, according to WNCT. "Based on the most recent information given to us, we are hopeful that Dr. Tuten has reconsidered her intended action."

Tuten since backed off her statements and says she hasn't carried on campus and doesn't want to break the law, but that she's begun advocating for campus carry to local and state representatives in North Carolina, the story says.

On October 1, 19 members of the East Carolina University marching band kneeled as the national anthem was played during a football game. Fans responded with boos and spitting. The band members needed a police escort when they left the game.

Tuten says in the story she doesn't agree with the school's position stating that the protest falls within the students' First Amendment rights, as it happened while they were acting as university representatives during a university event.

"They could have chosen many ways to protest as individuals, but they did not," Tuten said in the Post story.