According to wtvm.com, this week college students across the country are wearing empty holsters on campuses to protest policies that prohibit licensed concealed carriers from having guns at schools.
Students for Concealed Carry at the University of South Alabama say that the protest is a sign of solidarity against school rules that don’t allow students or faculty to defend themselves if necessary.
Currently, the University of South Alabama doesn’t allow concealed carry or any guns on campus. “Yes, I think we should be able to protect ourselves, with assault happening on campus and there’s no way really to protect ourselves [sic],” said student Ariel Downs.
The school, and the idea of an empty-holster protest, gained attention in April, when student D.J. Parten, then the acting president of Students for Concealed Carry, was confronted by campus police officers while wearing an empty holster, according to al.com. Parten had been participating in a spring empty-holster protest and forgot he still had it on. He was given a disciplinary citation.
Al.com reports: “A University spokesman said campus police had initially responded to a report that someone might have been carrying a gun, but that the citation should not have been given for the empty holster.”
Of this week’s protest, Parten told WTVM: “Some people give weird looks. Some are actually interested and want to know more about the group. We actually got someone who wanted to join the group because they saw the empty holster.”
In recent years, a number of states have passed so-called campus-carry laws, which allow students at public universities who have a valid permit to carry a firearm on school grounds. Some of the states still allow schools to prohibit carry in some areas, such as sports arenas.
According to ncsl.org: “In 2013, at least 19 states introduced legislation to allow concealed carry on campus in some regard and in the 2014 legislative session, at least 14 states introduced similar legislation. In 2013, two bills passed, one in Kansas that allows concealed carry generally and one in Arkansas that allows faculty to carry. The Kansas legislation creates a provision that colleges and universities cannot prohibit concealed carry unless a building has ‘adequate security measures.
“Governing boards of the institutions, however, may still request an exemption to prohibit for up to 4 years. Arkansas’ bill allows faculty to carry, unless the governing board adopts a policy that expressly disallows faculty to carry. Tennessee passed a similar bill to Arkansas’ in 2016, which also permits higher education faculty to carry handguns after notifying local law enforcement. In 2015, Texas became the most recent state to allow concealed carry weapons on college campuses, which will go into effect in August 2016. A 2016 bill in Georgia was on track for passage but was ultimately vetoed by the governor.”