Kaitlin Bennett
Kaitlin Bennet's graduation photo shows her carrying an AR-10 on campus. Kent State does not allow students or faculty to carry firearms on campus. (Image via Twitter)
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Kaitlin Bennett

The Kent State graduate used her college graduation photos to promote her answer to the gun crisis in America: arm the students.

On May 13, Kent State graduate Kaitlin Bennett posted one of her college graduation photos on Twitter, with a controversial caption that read, “Now that I graduated from @KentState, I can finally arm myself on campus. I should have been able to do so as a student- especially since 4 unarmed students were shot and killed by the government on this campus. #CampusCarryNow.”

In the photo, Bennett posed with a graduation cap with the words, “Come and take it,” written on it, and an AR-10 rifle.

Five days after this picture was posted, a school shooting occurred in Santa Fe, Texas — 10 people were killed. Before that, on February 14, 17 people were killed during a school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Other notorious shootings have occurred recently, such as the Las Vegas shooting where 59 people were killed and more than 500 were wounded, or the Pulse nightclub shooting that left 49 people dead. With the rising frequency of mass shootings, it is evident that our country struggles with them on a regular basis.

Bennett’s answer to some of these scenarios seems to be to arm the students. While it is not clear whether she wants to arm high school students as well as college students, it is easy to believe that this is what she is implying. However, you may find it difficult to fathom how including more guns in the school system will lead to fewer school shootings.

If anything, an increase in guns would lead to more victims and casualties. Not only that, but administrators would be making students’ safety their own responsibility when they are only teenagers.

If anyone is responsible for these students’ safety, it should be the school system. Following that particular belief, many have argued for armed police officers to be stationed at schools, or for the teachers to be equipped and trained with guns.

Not only will this lead to school systems beginning to resemble penitentiaries, but also does not actually work when put into effect. There was an armed guard positioned at the school in Parkland, Florida, yet he failed to stop the shooter.

Arming college students, which Bennett is specifically advocating for, could lead to many problems as well. According to the American Psychological Association, “About one-third of U.S. college students had difficulty functioning in the last 12 months due to depression, and almost half said they felt overwhelming anxiety in the last year.”

Evidently, college students struggle with mental illness. Is arming these students the real solution to school shootings?

Since posting this picture on Twitter, Bennett has received much attention. Many have responded to her post, both positively and negatively. She has made many other posts since then, including another picture where both she and her boyfriend pose with guns.

The caption for this particular photo read, “Not only have I received a job offer tonight, but several young men have offered their hands in marriage to me. I’m sorry I have to decline. I have a boyfriend.”

A Mexican woman named Kimberly Wenceslao responded, “Meanwhile when I went viral for getting into 4 of the most prestigious colleges in the world, I was stalked and contacted by people threatening to contact ICE to deport my parents. Funny how the world works.”

Similar responses of this nature have also popped up. Many people have mentioned how people of color or Muslims would not be able to walk around campus with a gun like Bennett has. She holds the privilege of being a white woman and therefore was not prohibited from or questioned about posing with this gun on campus.

Bennett has also appeared on Fox News since her immensely impactful tweet began circulating. During the interview, she mentioned that it was “insulting” that guests on campus could carry guns such as the one she posed with, but that students and faculty were not allowed to do the same. Openly carrying a gun on campus as a student allowed her to “express her second amendment right,” Bennett said.

She also mentioned a scenario where she had opened a discussion on gun control with her club, Liberty Hangout, on campus, and her cameraman was assaulted there. Bennett believed that if she had a firearm, the assault would not have happened.

Many of these remarks that Bennett made during the interview are troubling. For instance, she is valuing her “second amendment right” over the lives of other students. There was no mention here about protecting herself, only a demonstration of the privilege she holds as a white woman living in modern-day America.

Her insinuation that, if a gun had been present during the club’s discussion, then the assault on her cameraman would not have happened, is deeply disturbing. She is directly advocating for the application of fear and intimidation through guns on campus. She is attempting to establish a bully mentality in the minds of college students.

She is saying to them that, if they carry a gun with them everywhere they go, all their problems will vanish. This is not the case, and students should not have this sort of outlook. More violence will not lead to an end of the previous violence.

Aside from her remarks made in the interview, Bennett has continued to express her opinions on gun reform via her Twitter account. Some of her content includes the mockery of previous school shooting survivors. For someone who claims to care about the well-being and protection of American students, her comments can be quite bewildering.

This all exemplifies the truth of the matter: Bennett’s answer to the gun crisis in America is neither a well-informed nor a well-intended one. She is simply someone who, through social media, has received a bit of attention and used it to her advantage. She is seeking to argue and ridicule.

It is your own responsibility to educate yourself on sensitive topics such as gun reform and to become involved in petty arguments that will lead to nowhere. You must protest and speak up for what you believe in, but are not required to respond to those that only look to start fights. You should engage in progressive, helpful and respectful discussions, where everyone’s voice is heard, but no one is degraded.

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