Miami speaker, students ‘very respectful’ discussing gun control

Jeffry Smith’s appearance in a Miami University classroom Thursday morning was more like a childhood water pistol fight than the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

While students in Amanda Gillespie’s “Politics of Gun Control” class voiced opposing opinions toward gun control, they discussed the hot button topic without violence.

“They were more intelligent than wanting to butt heads,” said Smith, a gun activist and lifetime NRA member from Cincinnati. “This shows that people can have dialogue even when they don’t agree.”

Madeline Albert, a sophomore from St. Louis, called herself on the “liberal end” of the political spectrum. She was pleased that throughout the 90-minute class, she never felt “unsafe to share” her opinions.

Nolin Hamlin, a junior from Lebanon, is a gun rights supporter. He said Smith and the students were “very respectful.”

Gillespie wasn’t surprise by the demeanor in the class. She said many of the students prefer to express their opinions on paper and not in public. Some also wondered if having media representatives in the class may have influenced the students’ willingness to express their opinions.

The "open carry" event, set for 1 p.m. April 30 at Miami University, drew a lot of conversation and some concern.

Smith, organizer of the demonstration, said he recently held a “scouting tour” when he walked around Oxford and the campus with a holster and gun clearly showing over his coat. Since Smith is 6-foot-9, he said people typically see a tall man and not a man carrying a gun. But two weeks ago in Oxford, a woman called the university police department after seeing Smith carrying a gun.

He was questioned by police.

Smith is organizing the open-carry march on the university’s campus to highlight what he feels are unfair restrictions for concealed-carry permit holders at higher education institutions. It’s illegal to carry a concealed firearm on an Ohio university campus, unless the firearm is locked in a motor vehicle or in the process of being locked in a motor vehicle.

That law means that a student who has a license to carry a concealed weapon is breaking the law as soon as he or she steps off High Street.

“You’re not a different person when you step on campus,” he told the students.

He’s anticipating talking to those — for and against gun control — at the Oxford campus.

“We are looking for dialogue,” he said.

He has organized similar gun events at University of Cincinnati, Bowling Green, Akron and Ohio State University.

Miami University officials said the other schools’ events were held without incident and the armed group’s participants will not enter campus buildings carrying weapons.

Miami University police will be “stationed near the walk in order to help promote safety and protect the rights of all, including walk participants,” according to a statement from the university.

On this day, the university said, no disciplinary action will be taken against students under the code of student conduct solely for legal possession of a weapon while participating in this event.

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