Gun Supporters Slam TCC Over Protest Rights

College refuses to let students hold "empty holster" demonstration on campus

Students and advocates say colleges nationwide have unconstitutionally barred students from handing out literature, protesting and gathering to support carrying weapons on campus.

After a student went on a shooting rampage at Virginia Tech University, more students have been advocating for the right to carry guns on campus. State lawmakers also have been tackling the issue.

Robert Shibley of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) says as a result, more universities and colleges have suppressed the rights of students to organize.

At Tarrant County College in Fort Worth, students have been trying to hold an "empty holster" demonstration in the college's designated "Free Speech" zone. The college has repeatedly refused to allow the protest, though it has taken place at other campuses nationwide.

Donna Darovich, the college's spokeswoman, said the students are permitted to voice their opinions in the "Free Speech" zone but will not be allowed to carry empty holsters anywhere on campus.

"We believe that it would be disruptive to the campus environment for people to be walking around with gun holsters," Darovich said.

FIRE has not taken any cases to court, but Shibley said the group has not ruled it out. FIRE's philosophy is to work with the universities to get them to independently change their policies.

In the case of Tarrant County College, Shibley said he would not comment on whether FIRE would sue. But it's "always an option when constitutional rights are violated," he said.

"That case is ongoing. They have not relented," Shibley said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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