A North Carolina professor plans to respond to a national anthem protest by students by bringing her gun to campus — even though it’s against state law.
Tracy Tuten, a marketing professor at East Carolina University, is angry that administrators declined to punish band members who kneeled during “The Star-Spangled Banner” last week before a football game, reported WITN-TV.
The students were protesting racism and police brutality, but Tuten said university policy requires them to stand during the national anthem when they are representing the school.
Chancellor Cecil Staton said the students were exercising their First Amendment right to free speech, so Tuten said she’s going to start bringing her gun on campus.
“Since the band members can act on the First Amendment without regard to university rules, I too want to act on my Second Amendment rights to bear arms,” she said.
— Jeff Gravley (@jgravleyWRAL) October 1, 2016
Tuten has wanted to carry a firearm to work since a student violently threatened and stalked her several years ago, and she wasn’t satisfied with actions taken by university administrators during the ordeal.
“I am so scared every day that I walk onto that campus and do not have my gun with me,” Tuten said. “If you have not been stalked before, you do not understand what it feels like, but it is really intimidating — it is so scary.”
A spokesman for the university police said North Carolina law clearly prohibited Tuten from carrying a firearm on campus — but the marketing professor has dared the chancellor to stop her.
“I am planning to carry on campus from here on out,” said Tuten, who said she’s aware her action would risk felony charges. “Does the university want me to not protect myself, and they’re okay with these band members totally disrespecting the university rules, but I’m not okay protecting myself? For university rules? Really?”
A reporter from WNCT-TV reminded Tuten state law prohibited her from carrying a gun on campus, not university rules.
“It is a university rule,” said Tuten. “I mean, in Texas, for instance, if I were a faculty member in Texas, I could carry on campus.”
The reporter again reminded Tuten that state law, not university rules, limited guns on campus.
“Okay, well, we need to discuss that,” Tuten said, adding that her family had withdrawn a gift to ECU worth more than $1 million over the situation.
Administrators in the school’s music department said additional protests by the marching band “will not be tolerated,” but Tuten said she’s willing to risk being fired over her Second Amendment protest.
“Bring it,” she said.
But she appeared to soften her stance Tuesday morning on risking felony charges.
“It is important that I make it clear that I do not intend to commit any felonies,” Tuten said on her Facebook page. “I want to shine a light on the hypocrisy of supporting First Amendment rights but not Second Amendment rights. All of our rights are important.
“There is an opportunity to hold a peaceful and legal demonstration to support these rights,” she added. “At this time, I am researching what form of demonstration will fall within the law and effectively communicate our message.”
Watch this video report posted online by WNCT-TV: