Univ threatens to discepline students carry empty holsters

Discussion in 'In the News' started by Adam5, Oct 23, 2007.

  1. Adam5

    Adam5 Atlanta Overwatch

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    http://www.johnsoncitypress.com/Detail.php?Cat=HOMEPAGE&ID=60440

    Will ETSU students have to holster their planned rally?

    By Sam Watson
    Press Education Writer
    [email protected]


    An “empty holster†demonstration to promote campus firearm possession is getting a second look from East Tennessee State University administrators after they initially warned a student club that participation could result in discipline.
    “I was real happy to hear that they’re reconsidering that,†Jay Adkins, a vice president in ETSU’s Marksmanship Club, said Monday. “I was surprised at the reaction that I got, because right off the bat, it was a reaction of, ‘No, this can’t be done. It’s inappropriate.’â€

    Club members had approached administrators about their intentions to don empty holsters for a national event organized by Students for Concealed Carry on Campus to support legislation that would allow permit holders to carry concealed handguns on college campuses.

    On its Web site, the national group cites last spring’s deadly Virginia Tech rampage and the 1999 Columbine High School massacre as reasons for the movement.

    “After such tragedies as Columbine and Virginia Tech, it is abundantly clear that the only way to stop mass murderers is to have responsible citizens in the classroom and on campuses able to carry their licensed handguns,†the site states.

    Opponents, including the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, argue that allowing concealed firearms on campuses would dramatically increase gun violence risks to college students.

    ETSU administrators originally shot down the idea of local participation in the empty holster demonstration, informing Adkins that any student seen wearing an empty holster on the campus would face discipline for disorderly conduct. Anyone who refused to remove a holster would face further sanctions for failing to cooperate with institutional officials.

    In an e-mail to Adkins dated Wednesday, ETSU Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Joe Sherlin also noted deaths on other campuses as reason for the administration’s position.

    “Particularly in light of recent campus shootings, wearing a firearm holster on the campus can be intimidating and unreasonably disturbing to others and can create a disruption to campus activities,†Sherlin wrote.

    But on Friday, Sherlin said administrators were re-evaluating the original ruling and doing more research for a final determination. Attorneys at ETSU and its governing body, the Tennessee Board of Regents, were involved.

    “That was our initial response out of the box, but we continue to gather information on it and are in consultation with legal counsel on it even further, and we have decided that we need to take a look at it,†Sherlin said.

    Sherlin said the administration’s main concern was how others might react to seeing empty holsters at ETSU.

    “There’s a potential to create disturbance on the campus,†he said. “We have individuals coming in and out of campus. It’s a possibility that they could be disturbed by someone in a holster. They would not know if they have a firearm, and that could create a disruption.â€

    Regardless of the administration’s decision about the empty holster demonstration, Sherlin said, club members would be free to use other methods to express themselves on the issue.

    “The request to have the protest has never been in question,†Sherlin said. “They’re free to protest on the campus and make their cause known, distribute literature. The only issue that’s in question is the request to use empty firearm holsters.

    “Freedom of speech is a key to a university as a marketplace of ideas. It happens all the time, and that’s part of what we’re about.â€

    Adkins characterized his intentions in approaching the administration as a courtesy rather than a request.

    “I didn’t feel that we really required permission, but I wanted to be up front,†Adkins said. “If somebody were to have concerns, we wanted the administration (and) we wanted campus safety to know what was going on so that things couldn’t get escalated unnecessarily.â€

    Although he spoke of that potential for escalation, Adkins said he did not consider the administration’s concerns about disruption legitimate, given the Marksmanship Club’s intentions of publicizing the empty holster campaign.

    “We were going to have flyers all over campus,†Adkins said. “We were going to be getting the word out that this was going to be happening. So, this was not going to be just students showing up one day with holsters.â€

    He dismissed the notion that students, employees and campus safety officers would have difficulty differentiating between an empty holster and a real threat.

    “I would think if someone saw a holster, they would look and see there’s not a gun in there,†he said. “If it’s not in the holster, it would be in your hand. If they see a gun in your hand, that’s going to raise an alarm.â€

    Adkins had a similar take on how people on campus would differentiate between someone carrying a weapon for protection and someone with harmful intent, saying campuses would be no different than shoppin malls and other locations where permit holders can legally carry firearms.

    “We just want our rights to extend on the campus just like all of our other rights do,†Adkins said
     
  2. SigP229

    SigP229 Active Member

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    Someone might hide a butterknife in one of those holsters. :lol:
     

  3. blind_shake

    blind_shake Well-Known Member

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    Or better yet draw a picture of a butter knife in a holster...
     
  4. Macktee

    Macktee New Member

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    If they can't wear empty holsters, although that should be "protected speech", perhaps they could carry water pistols.

    Why do such highly educated people seem to be the least capable of dealing with decisions. I'm really surprised they didn't ban empty holsters as part of their zero tolerance stupidity.

    :sheep:
     
  5. N.T.F.S.

    N.T.F.S. Active Member

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    But if the students had decided to have an anti war rally and burn American flags , that would be ok because its protected under the 1st Amendment.
     
  6. Adam5

    Adam5 Atlanta Overwatch

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    They shuold all wear shirts with pictures of empty holsters that say "Ask me why" on theday of the protest
     
  7. Macktee

    Macktee New Member

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    That's what I meant by this being protected speech. If that action is protected speech, and I believe it should be even if I don't agree, surely this should be!

    Where's the ACLU when we need them???



    :bsflag: (It's the only flag avatar I could find.)
     
  8. jeepsterwannabe

    jeepsterwannabe New Member

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    we should all wear these everyday til the PG laws are fixed
     
  9. Sharky

    Sharky New Member

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    How is an empty holster, any different than another School related organization, using a "prop" to get their message across? :D
     
  10. boom boom

    boom boom Guest

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    Symbolic speech such as empty holsters is protected speech

    Using an empty holster to indicate displeasure with the current ban should be regarded as protected symbolic speech under the 1st amendment according to Tinker v. Des Moines School District 393 U.S. 503 (1969). As long as the students were not disruptive and made clear that the holsters were in fact empty, it would be hard to argue a public safety exception (especially for an out of class protest). The administration of ETSU probably backed down from administrative punishment threats after they realized that could result in a class action lawsuit. See this money quote citing a 5th Circuit case, Burnside v. Byars, approvingly:

    "In order for the State in the person of school officials to justify prohibition of a particular expression of opinion, it must be able to show that its action was caused by something more than a mere desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that always accompany an unpopular viewpoint. Certainly where there is no finding and no showing that engaging in the forbidden conduct would "materially and substantially interfere with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school," the prohibition cannot be sustained." Cite needed for Burnside v. Byars"
     
  11. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    Re: Symbolic speech such as empty holsters is protected spee

    Very good post for somebody with only 11 posts so far! :D It would not be a "class action," but otherwise I think your post is right on.
     
  12. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday New Member

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    Or wear black armbands to protest a war.
     
  13. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

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    Ditto

    Yeah, the black armband comparison is right on. However, a modern nuance in the law is the "gun exception." That is, any rights, privileges, or liberties you may otherwise have don't apply when the subject is guns. Guns are evil. Evil must be fought wherever it is encountered. It's for the children.

    I find it hard to believe that anybody is really "intimidated" or "threatened" by an empty holster, especially with the publicity showing the purpose to be advocacy for lawful carry for legitimate purposes. But maybe nobody is really threatened or intimidated-- it's just an excuse to shut down the 1st Amendment rights of others they disagree with. The ends justify the means, don't you know!
     
  14. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    Re: Ditto

    Even though the U.S. Supreme Court, in J.L. v. Florida, assured us there is no "gun exception," at least to the Fourth Amendment.
     
  15. gsusnake

    gsusnake Token Liberal Hippie

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    I've worn an empty holster OWB with a tucked in polo to class every day this week.

    One person noticed. My Intro to CJ professor is also a detective with a local Sheriff's office and pulled me aside after class yesterday because he was "concerned about why I was carrying an empty holster". Once I explained the reasoning behind the protest he became less concerned and told me he supports the cause, too, and that he carries to class every day.
     
  16. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    You have a PM
     
  17. gsusnake

    gsusnake Token Liberal Hippie

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    replied.
     
  18. phaed

    phaed Active Member

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    advanced education is for finalizing the readiness of an adult to hit the real world. if an adult is really disturbed by something like this, i'd imagine the institution is failing in their goal.
     
  19. Gunstar1

    Gunstar1 Administrator

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    I think it would be even better if the open holster protesters put flowers in the holsters.

    Anytime someone gets shocked, give them a flower.

    That would screw with the liberal administrators heads big time...
     
  20. SigP229

    SigP229 Active Member

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    :righton: Good one!