Amid a youth-driven gun control debate that has swarmed social media, a college senior in Tennessee is defending the provocative photo she posted of her packing a handgun with the caption, “I don’t take normal graduation photos …”
I don’t take normal college graduation photos... pic.twitter.com/eI1NvLFYHs— Brenna Spencer (@BrennaSpencer) April 7, 2018
In the photo, posted Saturday, Brenna Spencer, 22, holds up the bottom of her “Trump for Women” T-shirt to reveal a handgun wedged into the waistband of her jeans outside a Tennessee museum.
The senior at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, wanted the photo to “show who I am as a person,” she told ABC News.
Spencer’s tweet prompted positive and negative responses from pro-gun users, some of whom took issue with her “brandishing a firearm for a photo shoot or showing it off to try and look cool.”
I’m 100% pro gun but brandishing a firearm for a photo shoot or showing it off to try and look cool is just stupid. They are tools. Why brag about carrying a gun?— Reed (@osellr) April 8, 2018
The public response has surprised her, Spencer said. “I did think that it would get a little attention but not to this degree,” she said. “It was really, really surprising to see the amount of hate that I got.”
Spencer said she also received some respectful messages directly from people who disagreed with her politically, but most users took to the public thread to respond to her photo.
“I try to stay off the comments, to be honest,” she said. “I just know that I got a lot of hate.”
Others applauded her knowledge of Second Amendment rights.
Congrats on the graduation apparently you have been educated properly on our rights as citizens. Go forth and spread your knowledge. Question everything in life even if it was taught as fact. Always trust your instincts!!— Candi Sieber (@Candiland1968) April 8, 2018
Spencer received several responses alleging that she broke the law by having her weapon unconcealed at the museum, with one Twitter user including a screenshot of an article from ArtNews.com, which lists the Hunter Museum among galleries that prohibit handguns inside.
You hope your sons find a criminal to spend forever with? And a dumb criminal at that? This is a picture of her blatantly breaking the law. Concealed carry is illegal on those museum grounds. You’re providing photo evidence against yourself....this is so dumb it hurts.— Kit. (@KitMeowxwell) April 8, 2018
Spencer’s friend took the photo outside the Hunter Museum of American Art in Chattanooga but she did not enter the facility with her handgun, and therefore did not go through any kind of museum security, she told ABC.
“I know the Tennessee state gun codes,” Spencer, who is set to graduate in May with a major in communications and a minor in political science, said.
The Chattanooga Police Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Spencer, who also works as a field representative for the conservative nonprofit Turning Point, said she owns several handguns in addition to the one featured, which she has owned for about six months.
“I carry everywhere that I’m allowed to carry,” she said, which excludes her college campus.