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Open-carrying protesters walk through campus to campaign for gun rights

Merrill Kaplan, a professor in the English and Germanic departments discusses gun rights with openly carrying protesters on campus. Credit: Nick Roll | Campus Editor

Merrill Kaplan, a professor in the English and Germanic departments discusses gun rights with openly carrying protesters on campus on Dec. 5. Credit: Nick Roll | Campus Editor

One week after an attack which left 11 people in the hospital and the attacker shot dead, a group of protesters came to Ohio State, quietly walking through campus with guns strapped across their chests.

The protesters were in favor of Ohio House Bill 48, pending legislation which could allow for concealed carry on public college campuses in Ohio, among other places where concealed carry is currently restricted. The bill wouldn’t allow concealed carry outright, but would allow colleges to opt in. University President Michael Drake recently spoke out against the bill during a segment on WOSU.

The timing of protest, referred to as “a walk,” just after the attack, was intentional, said Jeffry Smith, the organizer.

“The purpose of these walks, in general, is to advocate for conceal and carry … legal conceal carrying in Ohio,” he said. “Secondarily, to engage in dialogue with people about firearms rights and privileges.”

Smith named the walk “No More Sitting Ducks,” which is what he said college students are without concealed carry, especially in light of the recent attack. Abdul Razak Ali Artan, the attacker, was killed within two minutes by a University Police officer who was already near the area.

Ohio State’s code of student conduct prohibits students from open carrying on campus, but the protesters, none of whom were students, were in the clear under state law.

“The organizers proactively notified the university of their intent to conduct this educational walk involving the legal possession of weapons, which will occur on and around campus,” said Dan Hedman, spokesman OSU’s Office of Administration and Planning. “The Ohio State University Police Division will have a visible presence during the event to promote safety and to protect the rights of all members of the university community.”

Some students, however, expressed concerns with the policing of the event and one faculty member said she felt caught of guard seeing a group of armed people walking through campus. Due to the highly politicized nature of gun rights, many bystanders, whether they sided with the protesters or were against them, did not share their full names with The Lantern.

A protester speaks with a WOSU reporter while walking past The 'Shoe on Dec. 5.Credit: Nick Roll | Campus Editor

A protester speaks with a WOSU reporter while walking past The ‘Shoe on Dec. 5. Credit: Nick Roll | Campus Editor

The protesters spent much of their time trying to engage with passersby, asking them if they had any questions about gun laws in Ohio, and why the protesters came to campus.

How much progress was made, however, was unclear.

“Here is my point of view, I find you frightening, I find this very frightening,” said Merrill Kaplan, a professor in the English and Germanic departments who met the protesters with a sign reading “I feel unsafe.” Kaplan and the protesters discussed their differing interpretations of gun rights on the sidewalk outside of Denney Hall.

What seemed to emerge were two competing feelings of safety — one that would require citizens to carry guns, and one that would require those guns to be gone.

“One of my nightmare scenarios is that an attacker bursts into my classroom, with a weapon, and that students leap to their feet and there’s crossfire, and there are several people who armed, who are not law enforcement, who make the situation more complicated, with more lead in the air,” Kaplan told the protesters. “The chances of that happening go up when there are people in that room who have guns.”

The protesters, however, countered her argument — after all parties acknowledged they wouldn’t agree on the issues at hand — by saying that other college campuses have concealed carry, and her fear hasn’t come to fruition.

The protesters shook Kaplan’s hand before wrapping up their day, about two and a half hours after it began.

Jacob Myers contributed to this article.

34 comments

  1. Professor Kaplan-
    Your feelings are your own and nobody else can control them. Carrying a legal concealed handgun is about my personal protection, not anyone else’s feelings. I pray that I’ll never have to draw it, but, I know I’m safer having my handgun and having been trained in when and how to use it as a last resort. As part of my handgun training, I’ve also been trained in conflict avoidance. Avoiding bad situations is always the first resort, but, we’ll never know until it happens if we have to rely on the last resort.

    • Yes, carrying a gun can make the person carrying it feel safer, but it makes most people around them feel less safe. Seeing people on campus with assault rifles, regardless of their intentions, in no way makes me feel safe.

      • The only person who cares about your feelings Nathan, is you, the rest of the world doesn’t give two wet farts about how you ‘feel’

      • Why should you feelings about your safety be any more important than those of others?

      • I would bet 100% that the rifles you saw on campus were NOT assault weapons.
        A semi-automatic rifle is NOT an assault weapon.

      • Nathan you do understand that when somebody carries concealed, no one around them will be made to feel unsafe. The firearm is concealed, therefore unseen. The simple fact that a would be attacker does not know who may be armed acts to protect you and everyone around you by default.

  2. What a hideous university. I wouldn’t let my kids go there. Disgusting.

  3. Lead image shows a lot of editor bias for a story that is about a pro-gun protest, not the small anti-gun counter measure. Would be a lot better embedded in the section about the counter measure rather than the first thing people see when they visit the website.

  4. There are various kinds of fear at play here, and it’s worth prioritizing the concerns of those who are directly in harms way. This activist group is not OSU affiliated, and does not regularly come onto campus. Their fears should be secondary to that of the faculty, staff, and students, who are the primary users of Campus spaces. If we prioritize a group’s concerns that represents one particular sex, gender, race, and political affiliation, and particularly one that does *not* have a connection to the campus, we risk having an incredibly unequal and limited capacity to listen and understand each other as members of the Buckeye Community.

    I also think the Lantern needs to include a disclaimer that the counter argument here has been proven false by a number of studies from various organizations. There’s an article that lists them, but the relevant paragraph can be found here:

    A John Hopkins study found that “[f]rom 1966 to 2015, only 12 percent of 111 high-fatality mass shootings in the United States—at college campuses or elsewhere—took place in “gun free” zones, and only 5 percent took place in “gun restricted” zones, where security guards were armed but civilians were banned from carrying weapons. Another analysis, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, drew similar conclusions: Only 13 percent of mass shootings from 2009 to 2015 occurred in gun-free or gun-restricted zones. What’s more, allowing people to carry concealed weapons has been connected with an increase in violent crime, according to researchers at the Brennan Center for Justice.”

    • Sorry, but the JH “study” changed the traditional definitions of both “mass shootings” and “gun-free zone”, as well as going back to 1966, well before there was even such a thing as “gun free zones” in order to arrive at a preordained conclusion. In other words, junk science.

    • Adam C, repeating your argument 3 times does not improve your flawed logic. You wrongfully assume that none of OSU’s faculty or students took part in the demonstration or share the views of the demonstrators. As a faculty member at another Ohio public university, I can assure you that is certainly not the case. And your Brennan Center cite flies in the face of the fact that the US violent crime rate dropped throughout the past 25 years despite the dramatic proliferation of guns and the expansion of concealed carry rights. If you want to spout nonsense, at least make it believable.

      http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/427758/careful-panic-violent-crime-and-gun-crime-are-both-dropping-charles-c-w-cooke

  5. There are various kinds of fear at play here, and it’s worth prioritizing the concerns of those who are directly in harms way. This activist group is not OSU affiliated, and does not regularly come onto campus. Their fears should be secondary to that of the faculty, staff, and students, who are the primary users of Campus spaces. If we prioritize a group’s concerns that represents one particular sex, gender, race, and political affiliation, and particularly one that does *not* have a connection to the campus, we risk having an incredibly unequal and limited capacity to listen and understand each other as members of the Buckeye Community.

    I also think the Lantern needs to include a disclaimer that the counter argument here has been proven false by a number of studies from various organizations. There’s an article that lists them, but the relevant paragraph can be found here:

    A John Hopkins study found that “[f]rom 1966 to 2015, only 12 percent of 111 high-fatality mass shootings in the United States—at college campuses or elsewhere—took place in “gun free” zones, and only 5 percent took place in “gun restricted” zones, where security guards were armed but civilians were banned from carrying weapons. Another analysis, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, drew similar conclusions: Only 13 percent of mass shootings from 2009 to 2015 occurred in gun-free or gun-restricted zones. What’s more, allowing people to carry concealed weapons has been connected with an increase in violent crime, according to researchers at the Brennan Center for Justice.”

  6. There are various kinds of fear at play here, and it’s worth prioritizing the concerns of those who are directly in harms way. This activist group is not OSU affiliated, and does not regularly come onto campus. Their fears should be secondary to that of the faculty, staff, and students, who are the primary users of Campus spaces. If we prioritize a group’s concerns that represents one particular sex, gender, race, and political affiliation, and particularly one that does *not* have a connection to the campus, we risk having an incredibly unequal and limited capacity to listen and understand each other as members of the Buckeye Community.

    I also think the Lantern needs to include a disclaimer that the counter argument here has been proven false by a number of studies from various organizations. There’s an article that lists them, but the relevant paragraph can be found here:

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/10/campus-carry-laws-guns-mass-shooters
    A John Hopkins study found that “[f]rom 1966 to 2015, only 12 percent of 111 high-fatality mass shootings in the United States—at college campuses or elsewhere—took place in “gun free” zones, and only 5 percent took place in “gun restricted” zones, where security guards were armed but civilians were banned from carrying weapons. Another analysis, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, drew similar conclusions: Only 13 percent of mass shootings from 2009 to 2015 occurred in gun-free or gun-restricted zones. What’s more, allowing people to carry concealed weapons has been connected with an increase in violent crime, according to researchers at the Brennan Center for Justice.”

  7. I was there. If the anti-gun measure was “small” what would you call the “pro-gun protest”? There were about 10-13 people there. To say it was a protest is overstating it. It was a group of guys with their guns trying desperately to get attention. The saddest part is the people you would least like to see carrying guns in a public place are the ones with who are most likely to look to guns for a sense of self.

  8. “Look at me, look at me, everybody!”
    These folks need to go back to playing Call of Duty.
    Walking around campus with a .50 cal FFS and others with long guns strapped so tight around morbid obesity that they are more likely to shoot themselves in the foot first.
    Last people on the face of the planet I want responding to anything.

  9. I’m going to go ahead and say that a white dude with a rifle is probably the one thing we all should be MOST afraid of…

  10. “One of my nightmare scenarios is that an attacker bursts into my classroom, with a weapon, and that students leap to their feet and there’s crossfire, and there are several people who armed, who are not law enforcement, who make the situation more complicated, with more lead in the air,” Kaplan told the protesters. “The chances of that happening go up when there are people in that room who have guns.”

    This is a comment from someone that has no concealed carry firearm knowledge. Anyone with a concealed carry license, permit, whatever it is in your state will tell you, you are responsible for every round that leaves the firearm.
    Please, educate yourself on concealed carry and the responsibility that goes along with the license before making statements like this.

    • “This is a comment from someone that has no concealed carry firearm knowledge. Anyone with a concealed carry license, permit, whatever it is in your state will tell you, you are responsible for every round that leaves the firearm. Please, educate yourself on concealed carry and the responsibility that goes along with the license before making statements like this.”

      Since we know that many non-defense shootings have been carried out by people with concealed carry permits, it would appear evident that those people did not care that they were “responsible for every round” that left their firearm, as you say. Therefore, your argument loses its effectiveness, while Professor Kaplan’s comment seems valid. Please, think about the damage that has been caused in such cases and the physical and mental trauma people have suffered before you make broad generalizations like this, including assertions about people that I assume you do not know.

      • You are telling me that everyone with a concealed carry permit wants to shoot you. That is not true.
        The people that commit these crimes are criminals. Maybe the questions you should be looking to answer are, how did this person obtain a firearm? If this person has a histroy of mental/ personal issues. Why do they still have access to these firarms?
        You and Professor Kaplan are comparing a law abiding citizen sitting in a room or out in public to someone that has criminal intent and means to do harm to others. These are not the same thing.

        • “You are telling me that everyone with a concealed carry permit wants to shoot you. That is not true.”

          No, Professor Kaplan and others are saying that parading around with guns –particularly so soon after a deadly shooting and in an area that is explicitly supposed to be a gun-free zone–makes them feel unsafe.

          Tightening up access to guns by ensuring people with mental and personal issues seems like a good idea, I agree.

          I’m not comparing anybody to anybody. I was just pointing out that your earlier statement invalidating her “nightmare scenario” seemed off-base, because in reality not everyone with a concealed carry permit is as trustworthy and responsible as you say. (And even if their intent was good, it seems as likely to cause more injury as to lessen it.)

          But mostly, I just wanted to invalidate the invalidation of her fears. I hope you see that the directive to her to “educate herself” before making such statements invalidates her fear?

          In fact, here’s what I really want: for people who want to parade their guns, however patriotically or altruistically, to ask themselves, “If my parent, sibling, or child had been killed by a gun–regardless of whether it was a murder or an accident–and I knew they suffered flashbacks, depression, PTSD, etc from that incident, would I walk around with my gun out parading my right to do so? Or would I recognize that, even though I might have the legal right to do so, there might be a more thoughtful and sensitive way to make my point?”

          • Prof. Kaplan was in a gun free zone. How did the shooting happen? There was a posted sign.

            I have a right to protect myself, if that makes someone feel unsafe how will they feel when someone bursts into a classrooom and tries to take their life? Sorry, I forgot it was a gun free zone, this thiing doesn’t happen.

            Not everyone with a drivers license is as trustworthy and responsible as society assumes either. You are making every person that owns a firearm or is concealed carring out to be a criminal.

            I do agree somewhat that open carry is not smart. (I get why they do it in some cases. In other cases there is no reason they should be walking around the fence of an airport with a rifle, that’s just dumb.) The idea is nobody knows who has a firearm and who doesn’t. The Professor will never see the firearm in her classroom because it is concealed.

      • Concealed Carry permittees are among the most law abiding of citizens with a crime rate lower than police officers. Professor Kaplan seems to be well schooled in Michael Bloomberg’s made up rhetoric, no facts need apply. And of course the usual ad hominem attacks.

        • What made up rhetoric are you referring to? She said she was scared by the situation, and she described why. Did she attack anyone with her statements? Were there any ad hominem attacks? Just imagine for a second she or someone she knew was shot, and she was having a reaction based on that. Or imagine she knew someone who had a concealed carry permit who had shot someone. It’s really weird to me that people can’t hear what she is saying. She is scared. It doesn’t even matter if concealed carry permittees are among the most law-abiding of citizens are not. She is scared. There was just a mass shooting nearby. Instead of debating her, how about just asking her how she feels and then respecting her feelings by going away from her? Imagine she’s your spouse, your friend. Then act again. People are losing their emotional marbles.

          • Amy ThompsonBernard

            What “mass shooting” Charles?
            The only person shot in the OSU attack was the perp. The perp who used a car & a knife in his attack.
            No “mass shooting” happened Charles.

      • Charles, you just killed off any credibility you had with “Since we know that many non-defense shootings have been carried out by people with concealed carry permits…” Where did you find this fabricated “fact”? Do you want to see the facts on concealed carry licencees? I currently live in Texas, though, I grew up in Ohio and graduated from OSU. Take a look at the conviction rates of concealed carry licensees in Texas versus the general population. I don’t see any reason why Ohio would be any different. https://www.dps.texas.gov/RSD/CHL/Reports/ConvictionRatesReport2015.pdf

  11. The deadliest mass-shooting in U.S. history took place in a gun-free zone.

  12. If Professor Kaplan felt so “unsafe,” why was she standing there with a cardboard sign stating as much. On the Monday when the snowflake popped a gasket and decided to run over/stab students, did she immediately grab her cardboard sign and make haste to the scene of the attack? I bet she didn’t because she was genuinely experiencing fear. Based on her FB page, she was at home that day so I guess she didn’t feel she could make it there on time before the “unsafe” event was over. Kaplan is nothing more than an agitator, peddling her influence as an “educator” just as Pranav Jani (Marxist). I would be shocked to find out Kaplan is not a Marxist herself. You want to know what makes me feel unsafe? Probably not but I’m going to tell you anyway. A bunch of LEFTIST/SOCIALIST/MARXIST professors poisoning the minds of American youths. By her logic with regards to firearms, she should immediately resign from her position at the “University” because she and Pranav ARE DANGEROUS to this country.

  13. I presume Ms. Kaplan’s preferred scenario is for the gunman to come through her classroom door with a gun unopposed so he/she can kill multiple people with complete freedom. At least with someone in the class who carries you have a chance to stay alive. This teacher has failed at critical thinking and should be removed.

  14. I made the scenario more palatable for her:
    “One of my nightmare scenarios is that an attacker bursts into my classroom, with a weapon, and that students leap to their feet… and are gunned down, indiscriminately, because no one has the ability to fight back. The attacker then goes to the next classroom and repeats until the cops get there and he commits suicide.”

  15. The smart thing for this supposedly educated professor to do if she felt unsafe was to leave the area. Why didn’t she?

  16. Hey professor, if an armed madman breaks into your classroom, do you want to wait 20 minutes for the police to show up, or have some armed people in the room that could save your life?

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