Kent State grad marks big day with assault rifle on campus
A Kent State University graduate is defending a controversial photo she posted of herself carrying a semi-automatic assault rifle on campus – a statement, she says, against the school’s gun ban on students.
Kaitlin Bennett tweeted the photo on Sunday, one day after actor Michael Keaton delivered the commencement address at the 40,000-student university in northeast Ohio.
“Now that I graduated from @KentState, I can finally arm myself on campus,” she wrote. “I should have been able to do so as a student – especially since 4 unarmed students were shot and killed by the government on this campus. #CampusCarryNow”
Scrawled on her graduation cap was a blunt message: “Come and take it.”
Bennett was referencing the fatal shooting of four students by Ohio National Guardsmen at the school during a Vietnam War protest on May 4, 1970. Nine others were wounded in the violence, including one man who was paralyzed.
The tweet – which has since been retweeted more than 5,000 times – prompted a wave of criticism on social media, including many who questioned Bennett’s suggestion that more guns on campus would actually keep students safe.
“I’m guessing that you didn’t get a history degree,” one reply read. “Communications, or phys ed?”
Other users praised Bennett as a young person “supporting our Constitution” and for defending their Second Amendment rights.
“Good for you!” one reply read. “You’re on the road to success.”
Bennett, who graduated with a degree in biology, did not return a request for comment Thursday. But she told USA Today that she’s happy the photo is making waves.
“I’m glad that my photos are making headlines, because my intent was to start a discussion about gun rights on college campuses,” she said. “At Kent State in particular, guests may protect themselves with firearms, but students cannot and I find that insulting.”
Eric Mansfield, a Kent State spokesman, said university policy prohibits students, staff and faculty from possessing “deadly weapons” on campus. State law allows visitors to openly carry a weapon outdoors on university grounds, he said.
Bennett also provided a courtesy call to university police to inform them that she was planning to take the photo one day after her commencement, Mansfield said.