“Kent State Gun Girl” met with backlash at Ohio University

Patrick Kane, Staff Reporter

In May 2018, Kaitlin Bennett, a Biology major at Kent State University, gained notoriety when she open-carried her AR-10 rifle during her graduation. Since then, she has become a noted gun rights activist, conservative gadfly and a correspondent at Alex Jones’ “InfoWars.” On Feb. 28, she returned to the national spotlight during a surprise visit to Ohio University, which sparked mass student protest.

In the past, Bennett was known for visiting college campuses and interviewing passing-by students. According to Fox News, Bennett was on campus to do a simple “President’s Day Trivia” segment for her Youtube channel, “Liberty Hangout.” But once word of her unannounced arrival spread across campus, she was soon met with a crowd. According to a Jane Roche ‘23, a student at Ohio University, she was told Bennett was interviewing members of the Student Union. It was when she arrived that the student then began to notice a small crowd accumulating.

As the crowd grew, so did the aversion towards Bennett, according to an interview with said source. Many people began to chant things along the lines of, “We don’t want you here.” Later, people began to pelt Bennett with toilet paper, according to The Athen News. It got to a point where, barely a hour into her visit, she was forced to leave campus. On the way out, water was thrown at her van, according to a video Bennett posted on Twitter.

Almost immediately afterwards, Bennett took to Twitter to declare she was the victim of a “leftist mob protected by the OU police.’ She also made the suggestion that President Donald Trump should strip funding from a university that “harbors terrorists.” 

However, many OU students also took to social media to give their side of the situation. They maintained that their protest was against Bennett’s history of limitless gun rights and transphobia. Many were also peeved at a Twitter poll hosted by Liberty Hangout, which seemed to question the legitimacy of the Holocaust and how it happened.

After the incident, popular opinion was mixed at best. Several conservative and libertarian sources, such as Reason, Fox News and InfoWars, condemned the actions of the students, and claimed that they were suppressing Bennett’s First Amendment rights. Others, particularly on social media, claimed that Bennett’s provocative nature and alleged history of hateful statements warranted such a response. 

For some, however, there was utter indifference. According to Ryan Struhar ‘23, a current student at Kent State, people at his alma mater “…don’t really care about her. She was here on [Kent State’s] campus a couple weeks ago. Nobody paid any attention to her. We just don’t care.”