Despite protest outside, pundit advocates for guns on UW-Madison uninterrupted
A conservative commentator speaking at UW-Madison on Tuesday advocated for allowing firearms on campuses on the coattails of a new policy that disciplines students for disrupting others’ free expression.
Katie Pavlich, a columnist, Fox News contributor and author, spoke to a nearly full lecture hall about the history of the Second Amendment, gun use in America and gun control measures. Pavlich called gun-free zones, such as the buildings on the Madison campus, “gun-free death traps.”
“Just because you don’t like something, just because you don’t like a constitutional right, doesn’t mean you get to strip others of their constitutional rights,” the 29-year-old Pavlich said about firearm bans on campuses.
Her visit to Madison follows the passage of a policy that will sanction students across the University of Wisconsin System for disrupting free speech.
Last week, the Board of Regents approved a policy that suspends students who are twice involved in “violent or other disorderly misconduct that materially and substantially disrupted the free expression of others.”
A third violation calls for expulsion.
While there were no disruptions during the event, outside of Brogdon Hall a couple dozen people waved around sex toys in the rain to protest Pavlich, particularly her views that carrying firearms on campuses could reduce sexual assault. The protesters were making a comparison between laws and policies barring the display of obscene materials in public, and being able to carry a firearm in public.
Emily Rhodes, a sophomore participating in the protest, said she understands that it’s up to individuals if they feel comfortable carrying weapons, but she said she doesn’t want it to be allowed at the university.
“Guns plus guns does not equal safety,” Rhodes said. “I don’t want to be on a campus where people are carrying guns.”
Pavlich said the students’ actions were “sexual harassment” and called it “immature, silly, absurd, and really quite frankly, out-right dumb.”
Carter Mahnke, a senior studying engineering, said he sees no issue with guns being allowed in campus buildings if people are properly trained in firearm safety and have a concealed carry permit.
UW-Madison spokeswoman Meredith McGlone said that while System administrators still need to write rules to implement the new speech policy and have Gov. Scott Walker sign off on it, the concept of the discipline structure is in place.
“The mandatory sanctions set out by the policy unnecessarily take away the discretion of a campus to impose sanctions appropriate to a student’s conduct in a given situation,” UW-Madison said in a statement.
Junior Jordan Madden said he thinks the policy is meant to stymie the views of liberal protesters.
“It’s not the place of the university to regulate the free speech of the student in a form that would jeopardize their entire future,” he said.
Conservative speakers at college campuses around the country have faced protests in recent months, some of which turned violent and caused the events to be cancelled.
The UW-Madison chapter of the student organization Young Americans for Freedom sponsored Pavlich’s lecture and hosted Ben Shapiro, a former editor for the conservative news website Breitbart, on campus last fall. While he spoke, students shouted him down several times.