The professor who tweeted that he hoped children of National Rifle Association members would die after last month’s Navy Yard shooting has apologized upon the end of his suspension.
“My September 16 tweet following the Navy Yard shootings has caused a great deal of pain for many people, and for that I apologize,” David Guth, a tenured journalism professor at the University of Kansas, said in a statement to The University Daily Kansan.
“Some interpreted my tweet differently than it was intended: I don’t want anyone’s children hurt.”
Guth tweeted on the day Aaron Alexis used a shotgun to murder twelve people at the Washington, D.C. military installation:
“#NavyYardShooting The blood is on the hands of the #NRA. Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters. Shame on you. May god damn you.”
Alexis used a legally obtained shotgun in the massacre, though at the time of Guth’s tweet, it was widely reported that an AR-15 had been used.
Guth was suspended for the comment, though some Kansas state legislators hoped for harsher punishment for the professor.
“While initial steps have been encouraging, I trust University leaders will seek to minimize further damage to the reputation of the University of Kansas by severing all ties to Mr. Guth,” wrote Kansas State Senate president Susan Wagle.
“All I did was what any American should have the right to do: express his or her opinion in an opinion forum,” Guth said shortly after his tweet, according to The University Daily Kansan. “I regret that there’s been a blowback at KU. I didn’t do it on a KU site.”
Some KU faculty supported Guth, saying that a suspension violated his First Amendment rights.
Jane Gibson, the chairwoman of KU’s anthropology department, issued a statement along with 14 other faculty members in support of Guth.
“Administrative leave imposed by the University of Kansas violates Dr. Guth’s rights and has a chilling effect on academic freedom,” they wrote after Guth’s tweet, according to the Lawrence Journal-World.
Guth had also previously been censured by the university in 2010 for “unprofessional, abusive, and threatening behavior” towards other faculty, according to the school paper.
“The fact that my words were misconstrued is my fault – I am the professional communicator and I didn’t do a very good job,” Guth said in his most recent statement. “For that, I apologize. I also regret that my statements have had a negative impact on the university community.”