FIRE extinguishes possible 1st Amendment violation

Thursday, February 14, 2013
Bob Kellogg (

After rebuke from a free-speech watchdog group, a Florida university has relented and allowed students to hold a protest on campus in support of gun rights.

Bonilla, Peter (FIRE)Peter Bonilla of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) reports that when the Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) chapter at Santa Fe College in Gainesville announced its "empty holster" protest, campus police Chief Ed Book said he would draw his firearm on any protestor wearing an empty holster.

"It's a statement that the chief of police later denied making when asked, but it was certainly suspicious enough and raised enough flags for us that that FIRE needed to get in on the ground floor," Bonilla shares.

But he asserts that this is not an unusual type of event to take place on college campuses.

"This kind of protest has been going on at dozens of college campuses over the years, and very rarely is there any sort of case where it gets official pushback from the administration on the basis of its message," the FIRE spokesman details.

In this case, after FIRE got involved, college President Jackson Sasser affirmed YAL's First Amendment rights would be fully protected.

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