Students Carry Empty Holsters
Protest Used to Fight Gun Policy
Staff Reporter Ethan Vaughan

Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, a national group with a chapter at George Mason University, spent the week of Oct. 22 to Oct. 26 protesting gun control regulations on campuses nationwide. The event, called the Empty Holster Protest, featured students at universities across America wearing empty holsters on their waists to symbolize what they see as the absence on school property of a Constitutionally-guaranteed right to bear arms.

All in all, between five and 600 people participated around the country, with the GMU Students for Concealed Carry on Campus playing its own small role. The Mason branch of the organization has 122 members listed on its Facebook group, though it has yet to receive official recognition from the university. “We haven’t had a lot of luck with [the school],” said junior Andrew Dysart, a 25 year-old former Marine and president of Mason’s SCCC.

Dysart, who hopes his group will soon be an official club at Mason, points out a key difference between Mason SCCC and nation SCCC: while SCCCs in other parts of the country are striving to change state laws regarding gun ownership and possession, “[Mason SCCC’s] main focus is to get the school to change its policies, since it’s not against state law in Virginia to carry if you have a permit.” Dysart did not mandate that his members take part in the weeklong protest, but sent an e-mail encouraging members to be active.

“We did make everyone aware of it,” Dysart said. Nicole Shiley Kukuruda, one of those who took up the call, is supportive of the way her group’s opposition was expressed and said that she thinks the protest went well. Kukuruda said that she recognizes how powerful the symbolism of a gun holster can be and said she wants others to fully understand SCCC’s goals.

“The goal of this club isn’t to make people afraid of guns,” Kukuruda said. Rather, by approaching the issue with the seriousness and sensitivity it requires, Kukuruda has had a positive reaction from many students.

“I converted like five people,” Kukuruda said. The GMU SCCC Facebook site states that: “The purpose of this group is to create an awareness of the need for students, faculty, and staff of George Mason University to be able to protect themselves through the legal possession of handguns.”

Kukuruda believes that the protest has been effective because she says it has sparked conversation. Dysart agrees. He says that the recent events at Virginia Tech, rather than proving detrimental to the Conceal and Carry movement, have garnered it more support.

“I’ve had people who came up to me who never thought about it before,” Dysart said. “Now they realize that campus safety is an issue.” Some have suggested that the Virginia Tech massacre may have been prevented had students there been armed and better able to defend themselves.