KSU alumna’s graduation photos spark national discussion


Bennett tweet screenshot

Henry Palattella

When former Kent State student Kaitlin Bennett helped organize an open-carry demonstration at Risman Plaza on April 27, she said that she did so in the hopes of starting a dialogue about gun control.

Bennett got her wish this past weekend, as she started a social media uproar this weekend after taking her graduation photos with a high-powered, semi-automatic rifle.   

Bennett, who was one of 3,000 students to graduate from Kent this past Saturday, posed in front of the fountain in Risman Plaza with the rifle slung over her back. She also held her grad cap, which had a drawing of a rifle, as well as the words “come and take it.”

Since its posting, the original tweet has garnered more than 19,000 likes, but has also been posted countless other times by other twitter accounts. Bennett’s twitter has also attracted lots of attention, with her engaging a back and forth on twitter with gun control activist Shannon Watts and Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg. 

Bennett, who is Grassroots Director at Liberty Hangout and the President of Liberty Hangout at Kent State, also appeared on Fox & Friends Thursday morning to discuss her motivations behind the pictures. 

According to Bennett’s tweet she posted the pictures to draw attention to Kent State’s policy regarding firearms. 

According to Kent State University Policy Chapter 5 line 22, Kent State “students, staff, faculty and visitors are prohibited from the possession, storage or use of a deadly weapon.”

“My problem with that is that (Kent State) is kind of insinuating that they care more about the lives of their guests then the lives of their students who spend four or more years on that campus,” Bennett told Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy. 

Bennett also entered the national spotlight last October as a member of Kent State’s branch of Turning Point USA, a group that has since disbanded. Bennett helped Turning Point run an event in tandem with Young Americans for Liberty that had members dress up like small children in a fenced-in area in front of the MAC Center to “protest safe spaces.”

“Kent State University was recently ranked the safest big college campus in Ohio and 25th safest in the country, according to the National Council for Home Safety and Security,” executive director of media relations for Kent State Eric Mansfield said in a statement to KentWired. “The university has a full-time, certified police force of more than 30 sworn officers who protect the campus. These officers are visible, well-trained and on duty 24/7 in support of students, staff and faculty.”

State law permits open carry on state property, which includes Ohio’s state university campuses.

KentWired reached out to Bennett on twitter for comment, but received no response. 

Bennett said at the conclusion of her Fox & Friends interview that she received a job offer from Blue Target firearms in Cuyahoga Falls, and that she will also be “continuing her political activism on campus” since she’ll still be living close. 

When she was asked if she would take the photos again, she was quick to respond. 

“I would do it again and I wish I could do it with a fully-automatic machine gun,” Bennett said to Doocy. “I think those should be legal. If I could, I would absolutely do it again.”