The USF Police Department announced Friday that a group on campus was scheduled to hold a week-long protest in support of carrying concealed weapons by wearing empty gun holsters and handing out literature supporting their cause this week.
While the group’s rights to free speech is certainly one that should be respected and any group wanting to advocate a stance on an issue should be encouraged to peaceably do so as opposed to remaining apathetic, the group’s methods are questionable, particularly given the timing.
In the recent aftermath of mass atrocities such as the shootings at Sandy Hook, Aurora and the suicide at UCF in which plans for mass
killings were found, fear of gun violence is at its peak. Use of the holsters in the protest is indeed an eye-catching move, but one that invokes fear.
Instead of using fear-mongering tactics, the group may have been better off in promoting its cause through use of other symbolic methods that do not pose a threat to public safety.
Though the group met with university officials and University Police in advance, the plans still pose a safety concern, despite only carrying holsters on campus.
There is no specific location for the protests, as protesters are expected to go about their days wearing the holster in support of the cause.
But on a campus of more than 40,000 students, the ease at which this could compromise overall security in allowing a non-empty holster to be brought onto campus is troubling.
Though not everyone who carries a gun with him or her is the next Adam Lanza or James Holmes, in public spaces with such high concentrations of people as many safety precautions as possible is essential to preserving a state of well-being. This includes banning the presences of weapons with the ability to kill.
USF is an academic institution. While universities are indeed places centered on learning, most of which takes place outside the parameters of classrooms, and learning to stand up for one’s beliefs is important, a university is not the place for weapons — or paraphernalia that incite the fear of a weapon.