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Open Carry Advocates Walk Through Kent State University, Tour May 4 Memorial

Kent State Sociology Prof. Jerry Lewis (left) guided about two-dozen open-carry walkers -- including organizer Jeffry Smith (second from left) -- on Saturday through the site of the May 4, 1970 memorial.
Kent State Sociology Prof. Jerry Lewis (left) guided about two-dozen open-carry walkers -- including organizer Jeffry Smith (second from left) -- on Saturday through the site of the May 4, 1970 memorial.
Kent State Sociology Prof. Jerry Lewis (left) guided about two-dozen open-carry walkers -- including organizer Jeffry Smith (second from left) -- on Saturday through the site of the May 4, 1970 memorial.
Credit KABIR BHATIA / WKSU
Kent State Sociology Prof. Jerry Lewis (left) guided about two-dozen open-carry walkers -- including organizer Jeffry Smith (second from left) -- on Saturday through the site of the May 4, 1970 memorial.

About two-dozen people participated in an open-carry gun walk at Kent State University over the weekend. And as WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia reports, they met several protestors near the spot where the National Guard killed four students, and wounded nine others, in 1970.

Jeffry Smith has organized open-carry walks at several schools in Ohio, including one last year at the University of Akron. Each one, he says, is to encourage dialogue and curiosity about firearms. But the handful of protestors at the walk on Saturday said it’s disrespectful to carry firearms at Kent State because of the Vietnam-era shootings. Smith disagrees.

“There is no parallel, as far as I’m concerned, between this and the May 4, 1970 shooting.”

Sociology Prof. Jerry Lewis witnessed the May 4 shootings, and was asked by the school to give the open-carry walkers a tour of the site.

“I had to think about it, because I didn’t want to be seen as someone supporting open carry. I think the way Jeff handled it, it was clear I was being treated as a scholar.”

Jeffry Smith also says he wants the walks to foster dialogue about Ohio House Bill 48, which would allow universities to decide whether students can open-carry on campus.

“Given the choice, I think that most would say no. I’d rather them have that choice than not. But, I think the next step is going to have to be taken in order to get campus carry. And that next step is going to be is insisting that, ‘no, you will – it is now legal to carry on college campuses.’ When that’s going to happen, I don’t know. Because I don’t think, frankly, that Ohio’s gun groups are doing enough to push it.”

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