Nicole Sanders had the idea to bring a couple of signs to the Blinn College campus in Brenham, Texas, to recruit for the Young Americans for Liberty chapter she was trying to start at her community college. The signs she and a friend held outside of the school’s student center read “Defend Gun Rights on Campus.” The other said “LOL” with the Obama presidential campaign logo replacing the “O.”
She got a lot of attention, but not the kind she was looking for, and found out speaking her mind would require her to get through a lot of red tape, according to this story on the Outdoor Wire .
After going inside the student center, Sanders and her friend were approached by a school administrator and three uniformed, armed campus police officers. The administrator then told Sanders she would need “special permission” to display a gun rights sign and collect signatures for her group, and that this kind of activity was restricted to a campus “Free Speech Area.”
Additionally, the college requires a student organization request permission a month in advance and gain approval from four administrators for any on- or off-camput expressive activity. Student organizations must also provide administrators with an “Activity Report For” describing what happened at the activity, including details about the activity’ content and student discussions.
That “Free Speech Area” is an area that comprises less than 0.001 percent of the 62-acre campus.
Now, Sanders has filed a federal lawsuit against the school administrators, with assistance from The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).
FIRE Associate Director of Litigation Cathering Sevcenko says the issue extends to the suppression of Sanders’ First, Second, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights.
“Public colleges like Blinn are bound by the First Amendment, which gives all citizens—even college students—the right to speak out on the issues they are passionate about, whether gun rights or gay rights,” Sevcenko said.
The suit urges the school to abolish its “free speech zone,” which is a point of contention on college campuses across the nation where other such zones and rules exist, according to Chron.com.
It seems lately that the topic of guns has become increasingly intertwined with free speech issues and college environments.
More than 13 states are currently considering “campus-carry” bills, allowing students with CCW permits to bring their weapons onto college campuses for self-defense, where they are currently forbidden.
The issue of 3D printed guns is currently drifting into First Amendment waters, as we highlighted in this story.