Gun Rights Protest Leads To Free Speech Reform At College

(AP Photo/Philip Kamrass, File)

The Second Amendment and the First Amendment go hand-in-hand. After all, the Second Amendment is the insurance policy that helps preserve things like free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and so on.

However, in this day and age, there are a lot of people very hypocritical about free speech.

They’re fine, for example, with “mostly peaceful” protests that burn down half of our cities, but they’re opposed to it on our college campuses.

Yet one college is reforming its rules about political speech after they crossed the line during a gun rights protest.

Montclair State University and a conservative Christian advocacy group have settled a lawsuit filed on behalf of a student group that was stopped from staging a pro-gun-rights protest on campus.

As a condition of the Aug. 4 agreement, issued by U.S. District Court in Newark, MSU has agreed to revamp its policies on student demonstrations and dismantle its bias task force.

In September 2019, three students in the Young Americans for Liberty club at MSU staged a protest over gun regulations, dressed in prison jumpsuits and holding signs to demonstrate their belief that gun-free zones only benefit criminals. They were forced to stop the protest by a campus police officer who said they needed the dean’s permission at least two weeks in advance.

The suit filed against the university by the Christian group, Alliance Defending Freedom, alleged that several MSU policies violate the First Amendment, which guarantees the right of free speech.

Specifically, the complaint cited a policy that requires a waiting period and gives officials discretion in granting permission to speak; a “student recognition system” that permits the student government to rank organizations, which can determine funding allocations; and a bias task force that authorizes officials to discipline students who exercise free speech.

Under the settlement agreement, Montclair State University will eliminate the two-week-prior permission requirement, revamp guidelines that give discretion to officials and student government, and eliminate theBias Education Response Taskforce

The school also agreed to pay at least part of the legal fees associated with the lawsuit.

Now, let’s understand that contrary to what some people say, there are no acceptable government restrictions on any civil liberty, be it free speech or keeping and bearing arms. The only “limits” exist when you step onto private property.

For example, I have a right to tell you to leave if you’re protesting me on my front lawn. Step off the property and I no longer have any say.

But state universities aren’t private property. They’re public.

So, if a student group wants to protest gun control, they have a God-given right to do so. The idea of asking permission is problematic for the same reasons having to ask permission to get a gun permit in a “may issue” state is problematic. If someone can tell you no, then you’re dealing with a privilege, not a right.

With luck, we’ll soon see “may issue” laws get a similar smackdown, thus ending this whole fiasco of having to ask permission to do something the Founding Fathers clear wanted us to be able to do. The students at Montclair State University have seen it happen once. Let’s hope we can soon see it happen again.