Education

A University of Louisville student said school officials overreacted Monday when they sent an email to the university community about an upcoming open carry protest on campus.

Students Aaron Spalding and Ilya Chernyavskiy are organizing Wednesday’s event. Chernyavskiy told The Louisville Cardinal, U of L’s student newspaper, that the administration “blew this out of proportion.”

In an email to the university community Monday, U of L said a group of open carry advocates would march around Belknap campus, located near downtown Louisville, on Sept. 13. The email compared the walk to a similar walk organized by Spalding and Chernyavskiy, earlier this year.

“Participants, some of whom conducted a similar march last spring without incident, may be carrying a variety of firearms, including long rifles, pistols and replicas of rifles,” the university’s email said. “The Dean of Students Office, U of L Police and Louisville Metro Police are aware of the activities.”

But Spalding said the event is not a march advocating for open carry.

“Heck, I don’t even think it qualifies as a protest,” Spalding told The Louisville Cardinal. “It is simply me, myself, and I talking with students and gathering signatures for upcoming campus carry legislation.”

Spalding said he may be joined by other students, but plans to collect signatures by himself. He said he’s asked those who join him Wednesday to not carry long guns such as rifles and shotguns, and said concealing firearms, in general, could be dangerous.

“If I were to conceal, this second option might cause undue panic among students who are slow to realize my intentions,” Spalding said. “Our firearms being visible are merely a means to ignite productive conversation for those who seek it, and well, as a beacon for those who are uncomfortable in the presence of a firearm to avoid us.”

Spalding plans to walk the borders of campus and collect signatures from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday.

The university does not allow weapons to be carried within campus boundaries.

The featured image is from the March 31 walk that brought around two dozen open carry advocates who walked around campus for several hours.

This story has been updated. 

Kyeland Jackson is an Associate Producer for WFPL News.