A handful of Florida Gulf Coast University students walked around campus with empty holsters Tuesday. It was planned by the university’s College Republicans group. The students are doing it to make sure they’re not left out of the national gun control conversation.
FGCU senior Alex Pilkington said the message is to open a dialogue about guns and lessen people’s fear.
“What we’re trying to do is destigmatize this whole idea that people who own guns are dangerous,” Pilkington said.
When asked if it was ill-timed to walk around campus with holsters two months after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting left 17 people dead, he said no.
“We’ve sat. We’ve allowed the Stoneman Douglas people to grieve," Pilkington said. "With the March For Our Lives, it has turned into something that advocates for gun control."
He said he feels like gun advocates have been left out of the conversation.
"Listen to our side," Pilkington said. "And, let’s sit down and talk this out.”
He said the continuous headlines of police killing unarmed citizens is another reason why this is the time to push back against gun control proponents.
“Because that only leaves militarized police force," Pilkington said. "I find it very dangerous that we’re asking to disarm the population in any manner while not simultaneously seeing there is a lot bigger issues at hand.”
Tennessee Fairfield walked by the group of holster-wearers. He said he’s not completely sure how to feel about the display.
“I’m a practitioner of Zen Buddhism, so I have no desire to be associated with guns whatsoever," he said. "At the same time, I’m a fervent believer in personal liberty.”
Fairfield said even though he hates guns, he doesn’t want to impede anyone’s right to own one.