PHILADELPHIA, June 30, 2010—Today, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is proud to release a new short film, “Empty Holsters: Gun Speech on America’s Campuses,” highlighting widespread campus censorship of student speech about guns. The film is the first in a new FIRE series focusing on how colleges and universities across America are preventing students and faculty members from speaking out on the weightiest political issues of the day.
“In the wake of Monday’s Supreme Court decision in McDonald v. Chicago, debate about the Second Amendment and gun rights is sure to be hotter than ever,” said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. “Meanwhile, on too many college campuses, students have been prevented from and punished for attempting to form groups to advocate for gun rights, protesting campus restrictions on concealed carry, or even simply telling gun-related jokes. But an informed populace is essential to our democracy, and colleges and universities should be welcoming a debate on the role of guns in our society, not stifling it.”
In the wake of the 2007 tragedy at Virginia Tech, some students have argued that allowing students and professors with gun licenses to carry those weapons on campus might deter or stop future attacks. As one might imagine, this controversial proposition is vehemently supported by some and opposed by others. FIRE takes no position on the issue of concealed carry on campus, but strongly believes that students should be free to advocate any side of the debate.
FIRE’s video, filmed on location at campuses from Pennsylvania to Virginia to Texas, features interviews with students from several colleges where administrators attempted to squelch debate over the licensed concealed carry of firearms by students. Tellingly, no administrators contacted at those colleges would agree to be interviewed for the film.
The video is the first produced by FIRE’s Sweidy Stata Video Fellow, Joe Stramowski. Throughout the fall semester, FIRE will be premiering fresh, new video content ranging from short interviews with experts and students to hard-hitting investigations into the stifling of campus discussions about our society’s most contentious issues.
“Seeing is believing, and film is key to showing the public both that censorship on campus is real and that it has real costs,” said FIRE Vice President Robert Shibley. “Our new video initiative will expose new audiences to some of the worst abuses of free speech on campus. Raising awareness of these abuses will help FIRE in our fight to defend debate and dissent on campus.”
FIRE is a nonprofit educational foundation that unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals from across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of individual rights, due process, freedom of expression, academic freedom, freedom of association, and rights of conscience at our nation’s colleges and universities. FIRE’s efforts to preserve liberty on campuses across America can be viewed at thefire.org.
Robert L. Shibley, Vice President, FIRE: 215-717-3473; firstname.lastname@example.org