Student celebrates Kent State graduation by strolling through campus with an AR-10
A Kent State University student has caused controversy after celebrating her graduation by posing for pictures on campus with a high powered semi-automatic rifle.
In the photographs, posted on Twitter, 22-year-old Kaitlin Bennett is shown posing with her AR-10 rifle slung over her shoulder, in various locations around campus.
She captioned one of the images: "Now that I graduated from @KentState, I can finally arm myself on campus. I should have been able to do so as a student- especially since 4 unarmed students were shot and killed by the government on this campus. #CampusCarryNow"
Her comments with regard to "4 unarmed students" appear to be referring to the Kent State Massacre, in which four people died and nine were injured after the Ohio National Guard opened fire on unarmed students protesting against the US bombing of Cambodia, almost 50 years ago.
Kaitlin, whose Twitter photo also shows her posing with a handgun, appears to have been using her graduation to take a swipe at Kent State's policy against students carrying weapons on campus, and drove her message home by decorating her graduation cap with the words: "Come and take it".
Not everyone was so keen to support her message, however. After posting the picture, Bennett received hundreds of comments querying why she felt the need to carry a "weapon of war" to a school, questioning her judgement, and arguing that she was destroying the legacy of the Kent State Massacre victims:
Others accused her of white privilege, arguing that if a person of colour had tried to pull a stunt like this, the outcome would have been very different. One user in particular, Shannon Watts, contrasted the situation to the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was fatally shot by police in 2014 after being seen with a fake gun.
However, gun lovers were quick to defend the graduate, pointing out that it was within her rights to carry arms and congratulating her on her willingness to make a stand for something she believes in:
Despite the controversy, Bennett has defended her position, stating: "I have no apologies for my graduation photos. As a woman, I refuse to be a victim & the second amendment ensures that I don't have to be." In another post, she also maintained that she had received widespread support and claimed to have had job offers and marriage proposals as a result of the post.
Bennett is also the founder of the university's chapter of the Liberty Hangout group, a pro-gun body dedicated to "promoting peace and property rights". They also advocate against taxation, claiming on their website that "taxation is theft".