Bradley Jardis and Tommy Mozingo at Plymouth State University during their Decmeber 9 protest and press conference. The two men were protesting the campus’ gun ban.
Two Granite State gun rights advocates challenged the authority of the New Hampshire university system to ban firearms with a December 9 protest on the Plymouth State University campus.
“They truly tried to turn two law-abiding citizens, a former police officer and an honorably discharged veteran, into domestic terrorists for putting out that the college is not following the law,” said Bradley Jardis, who with Tommy Mozingo had announced in a December 5 letter the school’s administration that they would appear on the school’s campus with concealed loaded firearms.
The letter, which was released to the media, asserted the legal grounds for the protest and assured the administration that they were prepared to be arrested.
In response to protest, Sara Jayne Steen, the university president wrote a December 8 email to all students excusing them from class and stressing her concern for their safety.
Steen wrote: “The individuals involved have stated that they intend to be peaceful; nonetheless, we understand that (guns on campus) will make some of you uncomfortable. Safety is our highest priority, and people should make the best decision for themselves about being on campus.”
In addition, the PSU administration sought and received a restraining order that enjoined the two men from coming onto the campus.
The two were further ordered by the court to post the temporary restraining order on their website freekeene.com.
Jardis said the idea for the protest came about when he learned that campuses of the state’s university system never updated their gun bans to reflect the concealed carry laws passed in New Hampshire in 2003 and in 2007, he said.
There is a bill currently working its way through the state’s legislature, to allow concealed carry on public lands and in public buildings, which the former police officer said was unnecessary.
In the back-and-forth between the two gun rights advocates and the administration, the two men agreed to first to carry slung rifles with trigger locks, so as to make a point of political or symbolic speech, instead of actually challenging the campus rules by carrying concealed loaded handguns, Jardis said.
Finally, on the morning of the protest, the two men arrived on campus without weapons, and simply walked through the campus addressing the media and interacting with PSU students, he said.
“We told the students why they should not advocate having their own rights taken away—and how the university administration is violating the law,” he said.
“I think it went very well,” he said.
“A friend who came up with us and who was hanging out with a bunch of students said the school’s students felt the administration had vastly overreacted,” he said.
“There were state troopers everywhere, sheriff’s deputies and police from other towns,” he said.
“The whole time, I had my own detail of campus police who travelled with me everywhere I went,” he said. Jardis was not sure he was their prisoner or if they were protecting him.
The law in New Hampshire says that only the state of New Hampshire, not cities or towns, can regulate firearms, firearm supplies, ammo and components or knives, he said.
The university system has no authority to ban guns from their campuses, just as Nashua, N.H., has no authority to ban guns from its city, he said.
Because the PSU administration knew it could not enforce its gun ban, it went to court and received a restraining order against the two men and their protest, he said. Their court date is December 13.
“They took all of their rules that are against the law, and turned them into contempt of court,” he said.
Mozingo and Jardis have not planned their next step, but they are confident that by entering the legal system, the courts will be forced to throw out the campus gun bans because state law clearly designates each campus as the equivalent as a municipality.