Kaitlin Bennett returns to campus, hosts gun rights discussion

Michael Hieil introducing Kaitlin Bennett to speak about the 2nd amendment at an event held by Liberty Hangout in the KIVA on Nov. 19, 2018.

Nate Burtzlaff

 Kent State graduate Kaitlin Bennett returned to campus last Monday to speak at an open discussion on gun rights hosted by Liberty Hangout.

Bennett, who organized an open-carry rally on Kent State’s campus Sept. 29 , discussed gun rights alongside Liberty Hangout’s national founder, Justin Moldow.

Bennett belived she was unable to hold the discussion she wanted during the rally, which led to her wanting to speak in the KIVA.

The evening began with Bennett telling her story of how she became politically involved on campus. She discussed being open about her right-wing views on what she felt was a left-leaning campus and how it gave her a sense of empowerment.

“There were so many people that wanted to shut me down,” she said. “But the more they tried to do that, the stronger and louder I got because I don’t like people telling me what to do.”

Bennett and Moldow began the Q&A session with the Second Amendment.

“[Our founders] believed that the right to keep and bear arms was an inherent right, intrinsic to our being and fundamental to our existence,” Moldow said. “They fought in the Revolutionary War for these principles.”

Bennett reiterated this sentiment.

“I think the Founding Fathers would agree with me that every single gun law is an infringement,” she said. “The government does not have the right to legislate what people do with their property.”

Moldow argued the Second Amendment is no different than the First Amendment in terms of limitations.

“What if you needed the government’s permission to post on the internet?” he asked. “What if you needed to pass a background check to speak freely or to worship your own god? What if you needed a license to speak your mind?”

They then changed the topic to the idea of carrying concealed weapons on college campuses. Kent State policy allows guests to open-carry on campus but not students, faculty, staff or administration. Bennett believed this is unfair to students.

“This insinuates that Kent State cares more about the lives of guests than students, which is so insulting to students,” she said. 

“Students call this place home for four or more years,” Moldow said. “And they are effectively stripped of their right to self-defense.”

After giving their presentation, Bennett and Moldow took questions from the audience.

What started out as an apprehensive audience turned into a lively but civilized discussion about gun rights.

They discussed gun ownership of mentally ill individuals, arming teachers and gun safety training. Audience members found common ground with each other on some areas but disagreed on others.

“I don’t necessarily agree with everything that they’re saying, but I’m here for the show and I’m glad it was peaceful,” Matt Deep, a junior criminology and justice studies major, said. “I’m very big on the First Amendment, so I’m here to support the First Amendment at a Second Amendment event.”

Although the audience turnout was less than how Bennett hoped, she believed it worked out for the best.

“At first I was upset,” she said. “But as we started with the conversation and people started talking to each other, I realized that it probably wouldn’t have been able to happen if there was a bigger crowd.”

Overall, the Liberty Hangout leadership was satisfied with the event.

“I think we clearly articulated our message tonight,” Michael Heil, the president of Liberty Hangout at Kent State, said. “Even if you disagree with it, there was no confusion about what we’re arguing for.”

Nate Burtzlaff is the grad students and research and transportation reporter. Contact him at [email protected].