Kent State approves upcoming gun rally, but with some restrictions


Aaron Spalding traveled from Louisville, Kentucky, to stand with others in support of gun rights and the Second Amendment on Friday, April 27, 2018.

Editor’s note: This story was updated due to information that came out after publication 

Kent State approved an open-carry gun rally hosted by Kaitlin Bennett — an alumna whom some refer to as the “Kent State Gun Girl” — and Liberty Hangout.

In a statement released Friday morning, the university offered three guidelines the rally must follow.

It said because the event is sponsored and registered by a student organization, no one participating in the rally is allowed to carry a gun or other deadly weapon. The university policy states that no students, staff, faculty or third party doing business with the university may carry a weapon on Kent State property.

The statement denied Liberty Hangout’s request to host the event’s speakers inside the KIVA, saying the venue must be reserved four weeks in advance.

The conservative Kent State student organization must also cover security costs for the rally. According to an invoice sent to Liberty Hangout, the university is asking for an estimated amount of more than $14,000. The invoice also estimates costs for sound equipment, barriers and other miscellaneous items.

In a letter addressed to the university, Liberty Hangout said they refused to pay the price.

However, the university said in its statement the requirement to pay for security costs is consistent with its policy for other student events.

“The health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and visitors are our top priorities,” the statement said. “Kent State upholds the right to free speech and freedom of expression for all, and values respectful dialogue from all points of view.”

KentWired contacted Eric Mansfield, the executive director of university media relations, for comment, and he referred back to the press release.

In a social media post, Bennett said she and others plan to open carry on campus.

“We are still showing up Sept. 29th, and we will be open carrying,” she said. “We did it in April. It’s our constitutional right. It’s legally allowed.”

On Aug. 29, Kent State issued a statement telling Bennett to “cease and desist” all advertising of the event because it wasn’t properly registered and didn’t comply with university regulations, which requires events to be registered by a student organization.

Bennett announced the open-carry rally through Facebook and said she would continue on with the event as planned, even with the cease and desist order in place.

Laina Yost is KentWired’s enterprise editor. Contact her at [email protected].

Brandon Bounds is TV2’s enterprise producer. Contact him at [email protected].

Madison Tromler is a reporter for TV2. Contact her at [email protected].