On April 19, when the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) chapter at Clemson University hosts its inaugural Second Amendment Banquet, the highlight will likely be a giveaway of a Mossberg 715T semiautomatic rifle.
Nick James, who chairs Clemson’s YAF chapter, says that his group will not be able to give the prize to the winner on the night of the event because state law bans firearms from campus. (He also stresses that the weapon will never actually be on campus.)
In an editorial on YAF’s blog, James explains the group’s rationale for the rifle giveaway.
“Our main motivation in putting this event together has been the recent talk of gun registration, which aims to limit our Second Amendment rights,” wrote James.
“Current legislation focuses on reducing magazine capacity, creating a longer and more expensive background-check process, inhibiting the sale of guns through private transactions and even outlawing certain styles of guns,” he later recapped in an email to The Daily Caller.
For these reasons, the group decided to undertake the giveaway of a gun that in popular parlance is typically called an assault rifle.
“These rifles are no more dangerous than a typical hunting rifle,” argued James,” and some say they pack even less punch due to their shorter barrels.”
As a bonus, the lucky winner will get a 25-round magazine instead of the standard 10-round magazine.
Clemson’s YAF chapter will run a thorough background check on the winner before actually handing over the gun.
Clemson officials are distancing themselves from the unique sweepstakes.
“As long as the group complies with applicable laws and university policies and procedures, Clemson does not interfere with a student’s right to free speech,” said Clemson media relations representative John Gouch in a statement obtained by local NBC-affiliate WYFF.
Naturally, the April 19 gun giveaway is not without its critics.
“It’s not about whether it’s legal or constitutional,” Clemson alum Will Dukes told WYFF. “I think it’s just the wrong thing, especially at this time, to put a gun in the hands of someone as young as 18.”
The gun giveaway has attracted a lot of other condemnation on campus as well.
“While tabling and selling tickets on our library bridge, my club has been ridiculed by professors and students alike, saying we are degrading the moral fabric of America and there is no reason someone needs to own a rifle that looks as scary as the one we are giving away,” James told TheDC.
James has also received hate mail including an interesting Facebook exchange with someone claiming to be John Coggeshall, an anthropology professor at Clemson.
“I applaud you on the choice of dates for your ‘Give Away an Assault Rifle’ Banquet,” Coggeshall apparently wrote in a sarcastic email to James. “Love the irony. It’s the exact same date as the Oklahoma City bombing, and the day before Adolph [sic] Hitler’s birthday.”
For the record, April 19 also happens to be when the American Revolutionary War began in 1775, when Pope Benedict XVI was elected in 2005 and when Fidel Castro resigned from the Communist Party of Cuba’s central committee in 2011.
James wrote back to Coggeshall to thank him for the email, calling him John.
“You didn’t realize, I know, but I’m a professor, Nick, so it’s ‘Doctor,’ but that’s ok,” the pompous professor replied. “This is why it’s a good idea to have a sense of history.”