In Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969), the Supreme Court ruled that public school students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” Why, then, do students at the University of Georgia (among many, many others) shed their right to bear arms and to self-defense at the Arch?
The fact is that no individual is threatened by honest, law-abiding men and women carrying weapons on their persons. In fact, they are safer, which is exactly what we tried to prove by taking part in an “Open Holster Protest” at UGA.
The Georgia General Assembly is currently debating H.B. 981 which would legalize carrying firearms on campus and various other places where it is currently banned, including church buildings. To demonstrate support for the bill, several organizations including the Georgia Libertarian Party, GeorgiaCarry.org, and our chapter of YAL wore empty gun holsters around campus during the Georgia Libertarian Party Convention where we had reserved a table (see above).
The event was an immense success, garnering media attention across the state and hopefully catching the attention of a few lawmakers in the process.
Because of our success, we wanted to share a few hints and tips so other chapters can host similar events in the future:
- PLAN AHEAD: This event was on the books for months before it occurred. It gave time to organize the event and spread the word.
- BUILD COALITIONS: We were fortunate enough to have the GA Libertarian Party initiate the event and set it in motion, but be proactive and start one yourself! Send out E-mails to sympathetic campus and state organizations and see if they’re willing to participate. Some examples could include the NRA, Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, partisan organizations, etc.
- PICKING A DATE: Try to make the event coincide with something else that is going on. Look into your state legislatures and see if there is any legislation up for debate or pick some other political event (a state partisan convention, a gun rights convention, etc.). The bigger the event, the bigger an impact your protest is likely to have.
- CONTACT THE MEDIA: Make sure your local news knows what’s going on! It just takes one well-placed article in a local news outlet and your message could potentially spread to other outlets as well.
- GETTING HOLSTERS: Naturally not everyone in YAL will have a holster – some members, including me, may not be old enough to carry firearms and would not need one. Share! Some people have multiple holsters, but you only need one to make your point. If don’t want to purchase, just look around online about making one from paper or cardboard. It doesn’t have to be able to carry a gun – it just needs to make a point!
- THE PERSONAL TOUCH: Though wearing your holsters to class is sure to generate discussion, make sure your group has something else going on too. For our open holster protest, we also had a table planned in support of Relay for Life, our “Choosing Charity” event. Though that got rained out, Gov. Gary Johnson also addressed YAL the same day which drew in even more people to stimulate discussion. The more places individuals have the opportunity to meet and speak with you, the better.
The chances of H.B. 981 passing look good in Georgia, which would be a massive victory for liberty here. With gun rights getting new attention across the country, this is an excellent way to get involved and spreading the message of liberty. Happy protesting!Published in