Bennett, who was raised by a Republican household knew her photograph would provoke backlash.
If Kaitlin Bennett had been allowed to hold a gun at Kent State College as a scholar, she would not have carried an AR-10 rifle. She would have carried her handgun as an alternative.
However the 22-year-old stated she selected to pose with the rifle for her commencement images Sunday as a result of it made for a stronger image: That, as a non-student, she might finally arm herself on the northeast Ohio campus. To Bennett, the photograph was the fruits of her years as a conservative scholar activist, throughout which she advocated for college kids to have the ability to carry hid weapons on the identical campus the place, nearly 50 years in the past, the Ohio Nationwide Guard opened hearth right into a crowd of unarmed college students protesting the Vietnam Conflict, killing 4 and wounding 9.
“I consider that if the federal government has it, we should always have it. Machine weapons – any weaponry,” Bennett instructed The Submit Tuesday afternoon, shortly after her commencement photograph went viral, garnering greater than three,200 retweets and 1,000 feedback on Twitter.
“To ensure the federal government cannot go in opposition to the residents,” she stated. “We must always have the ability to defend ourselves in opposition to a tyrannical authorities.”
Bennett, who was raised by a Republican household in Zanesville, Ohio, knew her photograph would provoke backlash. She’d discovered herself on the heart of controversy on campus loads of occasions earlier than. Simply three weeks in the past, she co-organized an open-carry demonstration that invited close by residents to carry their firearms to the college. (Kent State College bans college students, workers and college from carrying “lethal weapons,” in accordance with its web site. State regulation permits graduates and guests to overtly carry weapons on campus, however solely outside, in accordance with a college spokesman.)
However Bennett by no means imagined the photograph would unfold so quickly throughout the nation. Within the photograph, Bennett is carrying a white gown and wedge heels. Her brother’s AR-10 rifle, outfitted with a scope, is slung over her shoulder. In her hand is her black commencement cap, marked with the cutout rifle and the phrases “COME AND TAKE IT.” The historic slogan dates again to the Revolutionary Conflict and the Texas Revolution in opposition to Mexico, she stated, when Texan rebels original a flag with the phrase over the picture of a cannon as an indication of their defiance.
She was together with her household and her boyfriend Sunday, the day after she graduated, when the photograph was taken, she stated. A campus officer was with the group as properly, as Bennett had notified the college of her intent to photograph with the rifle.
The caption on the photograph learn, “Now that I graduated from @KentState, I can lastly arm myself on campus. I ought to have been in a position to take action as a student- particularly since four unarmed college students had been shot and killed by the federal government on this campus. #CampusCarryNow.”
The photograph was met with criticism. One Twitter person commented, “If particular person of shade was strolling round campus with a gun the entire rattling police station would come and shoot them in a second #WhitePrivilege.” One other wrote, “You haven’t any motive to have that anyplace close to an establishment like @KentState and I firmly consider that by having images like this taken the place you are slapping their guidelines within the face you are the worst type of gun advocate.”
Aliah Kimbro, a 19-year-old Kent State sophomore, instructed Refinery 29 that it was onerous for her to help Bennett as a black lady, realizing her personal gun rights “aren’t secure anyplace.”
“To see that tweet, ‘Come and take it,’ as if lives weren’t taken on that campus as a result of gun violence, simply shocked me,” Kimbro instructed Refinery 29. “Kent grew to become an open-carry campus within the final 12 months and there have been many protests from that, the incident of Could four not forgotten.”
Since posting the photograph, Bennett stated she has additionally obtained dying threats.
“I am not nervous, as a result of everybody is aware of that I am armed,” she stated. “I do not know why they might threaten an armed particular person.”
Kaitlin Marie tweeted “Because of all who’ve despatched me dying threats for taking an image. You are the most important advocates for gun rights. You proved precisely why individuals carry.”
As president of the college’s chapter of the libertarian media outlet Liberty Hangout, she’s used to being attacked, stated Bennett, who was additionally previously president of the Kent State chapter of Turning Level USA, a conservative group. She stated conservative college students on campus have up to now been assaulted and stated that in April somebody swung at one in all Liberty Hangout’s cameramen, breaking his gear.
Kent State College was just lately ranked the most secure school campus with greater than 10,000 college students in Ohio and the 25th most secure within the nation by the Nationwide Council for Residence Security and Safety. A college spokesman, Eric Mansfield, stated in a press release that the college has a full-time, licensed police power of greater than 30 sworn officers who defend the campus. The officers are seen, well-trained and on obligation 24/7 to guard college students, workers and college.
Bennett known as the college out on Twitter for touting their security rating, and wrote that her cameraman had been assaulted “for supporting the 2nd modification.”
“The presence of a firearm would have deterred this assault,” she wrote.
Bennett is not the primary scholar this commencement season whose commencement photograph with a gun has gone viral. In April, Brenna Spencer of the College of Tennessee, Chattanooga, posted a photograph the place she wore a “Trump for Girls” T-shirt with a handgun within the waistband of her denims whereas standing outdoors a Tennessee museum. She instructed ABC Information that she needed the photograph to “present who I’m as an individual.”
Bennett, who graduated Saturday with a bachelor’s in biology, plans to pursue a job within the subject. However she additionally plans to remain in Kent, Ohio, and proceed her activism on campus and her involvement with Liberty Hangout.
She stated many individuals have attacked her for suggesting college students ought to carry rifles on campus. However that is not what she meant to do, she stated. Whereas she plans to purchase an AR-style rifle for herself within the close to future, she would use it primarily to follow goal capturing in her household’s expansive again yard, as a result of the rifles are “tremendous enjoyable, and simpler to shoot.”
“On campus I might by no means carry an AR-10 for self-defense,” she stated. “There’s so many individuals who do not get it – it is only a photograph shoot.”
(Apart from the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV workers and is revealed from a syndicated feed.)