On April 27, 2018, an open carry pro-gun demonstration occurred in front of the Kent Student Center. The event was organized by Liberty Hangout and had an attendance of over forty demonstrators. It began at 11 a.m. and ended sometime after 4 p.m. The event ended with a speech from Larry Pratt, the Executive Director of the Gun Owners of America.
The event was organized by Kaitlin Bennett, president of Liberty Hangout, and Jeffry Smith.
Many of those participating in the event openly carried loaded firearms. Student demonstrators were prohibited from carrying firearms on campus and instead used empty gun holsters.
Demonstrators carried signs reading, “Dr. Warren, Campus Carry Now,” – “Armed Students = Safe Students,” and “Lives Saved By Guns – 500k – 3 Million.”
Members of Young Americans for Liberty were also in attendance, including Kevin Cline.
“Students aren’t allowed to carry on campus,” said Cline. “Most of the students walking around have empty holsters because we’re protesting that we can’t exercise our concealed carry rights on campus even if we have a license in the state of Ohio.”
Some demonstrators were members of the LGBT community. One of these demonstrators was Mackenzie Catalano, who held a sign reading, “Gun Rights are LGBTQ+ Rights.”
“You have to understand that gun rights are everybody’s rights,” said Catalano. “I am a part of the LGBT community and I am not afraid to say that I support 2A.”
Throughout the demonstration, there were multiple counter-protesters. Among them was Greg Fisher, who dressed as Uncle Sam carrying a sign reading, “Guns, no thanks! I can live without them!”
“What happened at the Waffle House a couple days ago?” said Fisher. “Did a gun nut save anybody? No. An unarmed citizen saved somebody . . . Their percentage of saves is nil.”
Several other counter-protesters were at the event. Many of them engaged in civil debate with the demonstrators during the event.
Kaitlin Bennett, president of the Liberty Hangout club at Kent State, organized the demonstration. Throughout the event, she kept herself busy interacting with counter-protesters and reporters.
At 4 p.m., Larry Pratt arrived and discussed the history of guns in the United States and their relevance today.
“This probably caused some alarm when [the administration] realized you were bringing guns on the campus,” said Pratt during his discussion, “But in any case, here we are, and it does seem like a fairly tranquil gathering to me, and it’s a good thing.”
You can see Liberty Hangout’s recording of Larry Pratt’s speech on their Facebook page here.