Students stopped at the small desk covered with photographs of guns and tried a variety of empty holsters on their waists. Two men, standing with their arms crossed, chests puffed out and holsters at their waists, appeared as police officers would.
“That’s a pretty good fit for you,” Miles Vining said to one of the students who tried on an empty holster. “So, are you interested in carrying a concealed weapon?”
The IU Students for Concealed Carry on Campus organization hosted its part of the nationwide empty holster protest Tuesday afternoon outside Ballantine Hall. The protest began Monday and will end later today.
The protest is a nonviolent demonstration involving students wearing their empty holsters to class and around campus to raise the awareness associated with campus concealed weapon laws.
Vining, an IU student and head of the SCCC, said in an email being able to wear an empty holster raises questions and provides an opportunity for students to talk about the issue of lawful concealed carry on college campuses.
Vining also said in an email that in addition to the national SCCC organization helping distribute information and support, they have a local holster maker providing them with holsters to hand out to people who want to wear them during the week.
He emphasized that concealed carry, if achieved, can lead to safer college campuses and that it will give law-abiding citizens the right to defend themselves in a situation when needed. Criminals who know they won’t be shot back at are more likely to attack, he said.
“You see women on college campuses walking around with pepper spray to protect themselves, but why can’t that be a gun?” he said. “Being able to carry a concealed weapon can provide the protection people need to even walk home alone at night.”
IU student and SCCC member Joshua Garrison said he has recently refused to go to several Bloomington businesses because they are no-gun zones. This includes Buffalo Wild Wings, for example.
“It’s crucial we raise awareness for this,” he said. “I believe in my right to self-defense and seeing that other people are protected as well. I feel naked without my gun at my side.”
Vining said the overall goal of the empty holster protest is to get a conversation going within the Bloomington community about topics such as concealed carry and situational awareness.
“IU prides itself on being a diverse campus with respect to all viewpoints,” he said in an email. “We’re making the point that we as an element in the student body have a particular viewpoint that is currently not being met or facilitated and it affects our livelihoods.”
The SCCC also organizes workshops throughout the year to promote their cause. They will host a situational self-defense and awareness workshop April 23 to further knowledge of how to respond in a threatening situation.
Vining continually said he doesn’t understand why concealed carry hasn’t been allowed to exist on campuses.
“It’s a Second Amendment issue,” Vining said in an email. “Why does my ability to protect myself and lawfully carry stop at Third Street or any other boundary that surrounds the campus?”