Home Opinion Column Cuesta Cougars take on gun controversy

Cuesta Cougars take on gun controversy

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Guns rights activist Kaitlin Bennett arguing with an interview subject. Illustrated by Emily Rose.

Gun rights activist Kaitlin Bennett was met by an angry crowd when she went to interview Ohio University students about Presidents Day on Monday, Feb. 17.

Bennett, commonly known as “gun girl,” has recently come under fire for her controversial views. She rose to fame in 2018 when she arrived at Kent State University carrying an AR-10 rifle the day after her graduation. The campus does not allow deadly weapons.

Since then, Bennett has been an advocate for open carry laws on college campuses and other right wing views like anti-abortion. 

She has a YouTube channel called Liberty Hangout where she posts videos interviewing people at typically leftist dominated events such as Pride parades and women’s marches.

She also goes on college campuses to interview students. Her controversial videos typically receive support from conservatives and ridicule from liberals. After she picked up a following on YouTube, she also started to host a segment on Info wars called “Kait’s Unsafe Space.” 

According to the Harvard Political Review, approximately 60% of 18-29 year olds voted Democrat in 2012, making college age students mostly Democratic. When Bennett was pushed off campus by an angry mob of students at Ohio University, she claimed in a tweet that college campuses are especially hostile to conservative viewpoints and that President Trump should strip funding from these universities. 

When asked if college campuses are especially hostile to conservative viewpoints, the majority of Cuesta College students interviewed thought that while some colleges are, Cuesta College does a good job of remaining neutral.

One student noted that Cuesta College has people coming from many different areas of California, including the areas of Fresno and Bakersfield, that tend to lean Republican. Some students said that while many other colleges tend to be rather liberal, they think Cuesta College students are generally politically diverse.  

When asked if Cuesta College students thought college campuses, and specifically the faculty, create environments that stifle competing political perspectives, the majority of the students interviewed said that while they can usually tell which political side their teacher is on, they don’t feel as if the teachers are trying to shove their viewpoints down their throats.

A few students stated that they have felt uncomfortable, and even refrained from, sharing a political view in class they think will be unpopular. 

One of the main topics Bennett is lobbying for is open carry, or concealed carry, gun laws on college campuses. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), there are currently 16 states that ban concealed carry on college campuses, California included. Twenty-three states leave it up to the individual university as to whether or not to ban or allow concealed carry, and 10 states allow concealed carry on public post secondary campuses. Utah is the only state where all 10 public universities allow concealed carry. 

If Cuesta College’s campus allowed concealed or open carry gun laws, seven of the students interviewed said that they would feel safe and 13 students said they would not feel safe. 

“If I saw someone walk on campus with a gun, I would run the other way,” said Jimeson Ankers, a student at Cuesta College.

Five of the seven students who said they would feel safer if concealed or open carry gun laws were allowed on campus added they would feel safe only if the guns were concealed. The five students stated that it would be unnerving to see people walking around campus carrying guns. The five students also discussed the possibility that openly carrying a gun might make someone a target in a school shooting. Two students stated they would feel more comfortable knowing who is carrying and who is not.

When Bennett entered Ohio University’s campus on Feb. 17, it became quickly apparent that she was not very welcome. According to the Washington Post, students quickly formed a mob urging her to leave campus, throwing water and toilet paper at her and the truck she and her crew were driving. 

According to a tweet from the Ohio University Police, the incident was not deemed as a riot. No one was hurt or arrested, and there was no damage done to Bennett’s truck. 

After seeing Ohio University’s reaction to Bennett, I asked Cuesta College students how they think the student body would react to a controversial figure unexpectedly coming onto campus. Most students interviewed stated that Cuesta College’s student body is very calm, and while they think someone like Bennett would get a negative reaction, it wouldn’t be as extreme as Ohio University’s. 

After the events of Feb. 17 transpired, there have been disagreements on whether Ohio University’s students actions were justified. Some Cuesta College students believe that Bennett chooses particularly liberal locations to film interviews in order to get a rise out of people, while other students were disappointed in the way Ohio University students acted, because they think it paints a negative picture of liberals. 

“I don’t support people throwing things at her,” said a Cuesta College student who wishes to remain anonymous.  “That just gives people from the left a really bad reputation, and I’ve seen a lot of videos of that in general where a lot of people from the left react in very impulsive ways and I just don’t advocate for that.” 

1 COMMENT

  1. I don’t understand the point of this article at all. What in the world does Kaitlin Bennett have to do with Cuesta? If you really wanted to write an article about gun control, couldn’t you have found a more relevant news peg than just “a gun activist exists”? Or at least you could have run a more accurate poll than asking a handful of students. There’s no “gun controversy” at Cuesta.

    All this article is actually accomplishing is giving Bennett a platform. She pulls these stunts specifically to get attention, so just uncritically posting her beliefs (and linking to her channel!) is about the worst thing you could do as a journalist. Not sure who’s advising the Cuestonian staff this year, but they’re doing a pretty poor job of it.

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