Gun lobby goes after university faculty for exercising right to petition government

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Rabid supporters of the Second Amendment hate nothing so much as people exercising their First Amendment rights to disagree with them. Gun rights is a settled case in their eyes. Never mind that some people would question what allowing Robert Lewis Dear walk around in Colorado Springs with loaded long gun before he attacked a clinic has to do with maintaining a “well regulated militia.”

That hair-trigger reaction was evident when faculty members at Bowling Green State University deigned to express their views on pending legislation that directly affects their workplaces and their personal safety. Many of them used their university email accounts to oppose legislation that loosens controls of guns on campus. This is a violation of university policy, writes Chad D. Baus of the Buckeye Firearms Association. * Technically correct, maybe. As a taxpayer I’m not at all concerned that they are using their work emails, after all those are subject to open records laws, so it benefits transparency.

In this case it’s a quibble to think a policy overrides citizens’ right to petition their government. Baus is also technically correct that the National Rifle Association is not per se itself “a murderous terrorist organization that is a threat to national security” as Baus reports the rabble-rousing geology professor Jim Evans wrote to State Rep. Tim Brown, of Bowling Green. No the NRA simply throws its big bucks and political muscle against any rational effort to control guns, and in favor of legislation that makes it easier for terrorists, not to mention drug lords, gang bangers, criminals of various stripes, anti-government unregulated militias and, yes, Robert Lewis Dear, to get their hands on firearms.

The issue at the center of this is House Bill 48, which passed the House with Brown’s support earlier this fall. The legislation says a university or college can allow those with concealed carry permits to pack weapons while on campus. This may seem a minor change, but gun advocates earlier this year forced Bowling Green City Council to pass legislation to allow guns in parks. I suspect legal action is now in the works to force colleges and universities to take similar action. Firearms everywhere, that’s the call. Baus said after the mass murder in a Charleston church that guns in church were the answer.

This is not about the niceties of the regulation, or overheated rhetoric. This is about the gun lobby, which sees its demands as overriding all others including legitimate concerns about public safety, intimidating the opposition. That’s why Jim Evans’ photo is published. That’s why the emails of those faculty and staff who used their BGSU accounts are there. That’s why the names of faculty and staff who used other email accounts are published.

This is about intimidation. That’s how the NRA and Buckeye Firearms Association get their way. That’s how they keep politicians like Brown in line. What they hate is blowback. After criticizing Evans for providing no proof that the NRA is a terrorist organization, Baus then refers to an anonymous BGSU faculty member. Said faculty member says that anyone on the faculty list serve who expresses “moderate or conservative” views is “verbally assaulted.” Oh my! And then goes on to say that it is “dangerous” to express those views. Dangerous? How? Is Jim Evans going to hit him in the head with a rock? The faculty list serve is a rough place, but I don’t think there’s much danger beyond a bruised ego. These are not the folks packing heat.

The best response I’ve heard since the news of the Buckeye group’s complaint and subsequent open records request was from another faculty member on Facebook. She said she regretted her name wasn’t one of those listed as having emailed Brown. I agree. That’s good company to be in.

*Dave Kielmeyer, director of BGSU’s Officeof Marketing and Communications, later clarified to Jan McLaughlin (then editor of the Sentinel-Tribune) that there was no policy against such use, and faculty members were free to petition legislators on campus issues.

Originally published at: DavidRDupont