YAL at the University of New Orleans held our April Activism event on Thursday, April 25th. We decided to hold a rally which would call for the University of New Orleans to respect our Second Amendment rights and allow students to carry firearms on campus. We felt that the best way to symbolize our demands was to hold an empty holster protest.
The basic idea of an empty holster protest is to get as many students and faculty members to wear empty holsters around campus all day. The empty holsters represents our Constitutional rights being denied and our attempt to get them back. Students and the administration will see these holsters around campus and wonder what they are for. This presents a perfect opportunity to educate our fellow students and perhaps the administration on the rights to bear arms and the right to self defense.
To supplement the hoards of students who wore empty holsters, we set up a table in the Library Quad to engage the student body face to face. Our members wore their empty holsters with pride as they passed out literature which demonstrates our purpose. The literature exposes the myth that gun free zones are safe and that the restriction of firearms serves the greater good.
We kept the table simple as to not stray off message. We set up a tri-fold with pro-gun signage, as well as our banner and sign-up sheets. This straight-forward strategy serves our campus nicely. Being in the red state of Louisiana, our population is very pro-gun. This effort maximized our recruitment and education efforts. Not to mention it peeked interest in our group! We love our guns in Louisiana, and we made sure we capitalized on it!
All in all, our event was a smashing success! We generated a lot of interest in our chapter and even changed some minds. This was the best take away one could hope for! A rough estimate would be a 50% turnover ratio: Of the people who stopped at our table who were against firearms on campus, half of them walked away with a change in opinion.
The way in which we achieved this was framing. The way in which one frames the debate can severely alter the outcome. Instead of harping on our rights to bear arms, a phrase which many do not fully understand, we demanded our constitutional right to self defense. By concentrating on the self defense aspect we were able to shift the paradigm in our favor.
We did not look like crazy cling to your guns conservatives or nutty tin foil hat libertarians. Instead we portrayed the image of common sense solutions to the dangers of college life. We made the connection that the Constitution grants the right to bear arms in order to ensure the right to self defense.
While this was the main way to frame our issue, we did not engage in one-dimensional frame job. We fine-tuned this message to the audience who was listening. For example, when talking to a conservative we reinforced their views by asserting the the 2nd Amendment can protect you from a tyrannical government by preventing its existence in the first place. When talking to a liberal, we concentrated on a girl walking alone at night to her dorm after a night class. A gun on campus can prevent a rape, kidnapping, or even murder.
I cannot stress how much framing helped our efforts. I would recommend all chapters engage in framing and tailor your message to your particular audience.
Our event would not have been possible without the hard work from our entire chapter and the resources provided to us. A huge thank you is in order to Students for Concealed Carry and to the donors of Young Americans for Liberty! The donations made our activism grant possible.
We purchased all the supplies needed for this event with the grant provided by YAL. Student for Concealed Carry provided the designs and templates for our flyers and signage as well as an operational guide for conducting the protest. Look out for more great things from our chapter at the University of New Orleans. Have a great summer!Published in