Daniel Eddy / Lantern reporter
The Ohio State group Buckeyes for Concealed Carry held an open holster demonstration on the Oval to draw attention to debate over concealed carry on campus.
Members of the group held signs, passed out fliers and displayed empty holsters Friday as they interacted with students and faculty as they passed through.
As they stood in the Oval for more than an hour, they were given thumbs up and claps but some people vocalized their opposition as they walked by.
Mike Newbern, director of Ohio Students for Concealed Carry and a third-year in industrial and systems engineering, said the open holster is a peaceful way of creating dialogue that gives people the chance to see why he believes people should be able to carry on campus.
“This is a chance for them to approach us, we are peaceful folks,” he said.
Joe Smith, a third-year in security and intelligence and president of Buckeyes for Concealed Carry, said he wanted people to see gun rights advocates were not “crazy.”
“We have immigrants, we have males, we have females, we have Democrats, we have Republicans, it is just a bunch of people who are concerned about their safety,” he said. “We are no different from anyone on this campus, we are not crazy, we are not lunatics and all you are doing is ensuring that the only people on this campus with guns are criminals.”
Ohio law does not allow guns on campus and OSU President E. Gordon Gee has vocalized his support for the ban.
“Not as long as I’m president, (will there be guns on campus)” said Gee in a September editorial board meeting with The Lantern. “I’m unequivocally opposed. I think that is a horrible idea on a university campus to be carrying guns. Period.”
Newbern said guns should be allowed on campus for safety reasons.
“We just want you to carry a firearm on campus for self-defense if you qualify and choose to do so.”
Occasionally students would stop and have a conversation with the members.
Derek Bergman, a first-year in economics, said he stopped to talk because he is politically motivated and he wanted to see what the group had to say.
“I have tried to research the topic on both sides, the gun control side and gun rights side,” he said. “There is a (lot) of evidence to support both sides, a lot of strong opinions and heated debate on both sides.”
Bergman said he leans more towards the gun control side but it is not a “clear cut” issue.
Ohio is one of 22 states that ban carrying concealed weapons on a college campus, according to National Conference of State Legislatures.