An email sent to the George Mason University’s internal listserv advises students of the possibility of armed protesters outside President Obama’s town hall at the university this evening.
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The email, sent by Thomas Longo, the interim chief of police at the university, points out that it is lawful to carry firearms on public outdoor spaces on the campus in Virginia, though Longo does not identify any specific groups planning an armed protest.
“Due to the sensitive nature of the topic, we will likely see protesters on campus -- some of whom may be carrying weapons,” Longo warned. “University Police is aware of this and will have officers present to ensure that all protesters remain law-abiding and maintain the safety and well-being of Mason’s faculty, students and staff.”
Virginia is one of dozens of states where it is legal for people aged 18 and over to openly carry a handgun in public without a license or permit except where prohibited by statute. Even more states allow open carry, but only with a license or special permit.
Longo added that while it is lawful to openly carry firearms in public outdoor spaces on the George Mason campus, that right is not extended to students, faculty and staff, according to university policy.
A university employee who asked not to be identified was “stunned to hear it is okay to openly carry a firearm on a college campus” but added that he has never noticed anyone express that right at George Mason in several years working there.
Hundreds of activists from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence are also expected to rally in support of President Obama, who outlined several executive actions on gun control earlier this week.
The Secret Service has set up a perimeter around the building where President Obama is scheduled to conduct the town hall meeting, so it is unlikely anyone protesting or exercising their Second Amendment rights would come in contact with the president.
The hour-long event, moderated by Anderson Cooper, is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET.