Open carry activist Jeff Smith exercised his Second Amendment rights on the University of Cincinnati campus throughout this week.
The National Rifle Association-certified firearm instructor tried to be “an interactive billboard” for students to ask questions and understand their rights, but said he was “frustrated because people have called police with misleading reports about his actions and the types of weapons he was carrying,” according to Cincinnati.com.
Campus employees and students not only contacted police about Smith’s presence because they “felt uncomfortable,” but also began circulating a petition to make sure armed gun activists never come back on campus again.
Smith’s actions are legal because of a recent revision to Ohio gun laws that allow concealed handguns on college campuses. The law, which will go into effect in March, instead leaves the decision up to the respective institutions, but it still does not allow guns to be carried inside of campus buildings, which Smith did not attempt to do while demonstrating.
“The primary goal is to advocate for campus carry,” Smith told Cincinnati.com. “The second thing is starting a dialogue about gun rights and privileges.”
The demonstration and controversy comes only a few weeks after an Ohio State University student Tarak Andrew Underiner was shot and killed in his home after speaking in favor of campus carry in front of a state senate committee just a month before. House Bill 48 looked to “ease restrictions on where concealed-carry permit holders can carry their guns,” according to The Columbus Dispatch. Police said they did not think Underiner was a random victim.
“College campuses and the areas surrounding them present environments rich with potential victims,” Underiner told the committee. “They’re willing to gamble we’re unarmed, and it pays off.”
Students expressed fears to the media, including that Smith was “trying to intimidate student protesters,” and that they “have a right to our education and to feel safe getting our education,” according to WCPO Cincinnati.
Yet not every student feels the way at the University of Cincinnati. The student organization Young Americans for Liberty petitioned for a poll to be conducted of students’ feelings about campus carry before voting against the policy, but that same day the student senate voted against the measure in a landslide, Cincinnati.com reported.