In April of 2009 I designed and printed fliers for the group Students for Concealed Carry on Campus at a Pittsburgh community college. I included facts such as “The Supreme Court ruled that police have no obligation to protect the people.” These fliers earned me a meeting with the Dean of Student Development, Yvonne Burns, who angrily promised that the club would never be allowed on “her” campus, and ordered me to destroy all related literature.
I had been in a public quad handing out informational pamphlets–and had asked for permission to do so! Dean Burns told me I was soliciting; she had obviously been fed that line by a superior without thinking about it. When I told her that the legal definition of “solicitation” involved trying to sell something, she told me I was trying to “sell an idea.” Wait, isn’t that… college?
The SCCC website, concealedcampus.org, contains a link to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE; www.thefire.org), which recognized the violation of my First Amendment rights and worked with me to restore them — not because it supports gun rights, but because it supports free speech on campus. FIRE throws a wrench into the system of disinforming entire generations of college students — who are treated like children in need of supervision and protection from wayward improper ideas — with one simple tool: publicity. So, even if you hate guns or just don’t like me – please take a moment to look at www.thefire.org. You’ll be shocked by some of the things that college administrators do when they think no one’s watching. The moral outrage you feel after reading a few cases might inspire you to want to help FIRE restore liberty to our campuses.
As an SCCC campus leader, I welcome opposing points of view. I would love for someone to make me understand how an object can be “bad.” There is a disparity between reality and rationale here. There are signs on my campus reading “drug free weapon free school zone.” Imagine a drug free college campus … then tell me why I should feel safe from “weapons”. Criminals do not follow rules; signs don’t stop them! It’s already illegal to kill someone. Why should it be against the rules to have one specific tool that can do so? Let the college drain the pool, ban sharp pens and pencils, and forbid cars on campus. We’ll all be safer then, right?
Like many of my heroes, I love inspiring people to question their rote dogma; Disinfo favorite RAWilson’s tongue in cheek “guns and dope” political party slogan begins “guns for everyone who wants guns, no guns for anyone who doesn’t” — but too many colleges are more interested in forcing everyone to hum the mantra “guns are bad” without considering the real arguments about them. For me, refusing to buy a gun because you think it will lead to violence makes as much sense as not sending your kid to karate class in hopes that he or she will never get in a fight. I tried to nudge people to question the college’s dogma, even if that questioning only led them to reinforce their existing beliefs, and for that I was treated like a misbehaving child. Thanks to FIRE, my liberty was restored, my club was recognized, and I have new pamphlets which begin “You are an adult entitled to your civil liberties. Please, think for yourself.”
Christa Brashier is a student at CCAC/IUP. She is a self-proclaimed constitutionalist who is currently fighting for free speech as an intern for FIRE. The views expressed in this article do not represent the views of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.