By: Robert Davis
School administrators forced students of a California college to remove a banner supporting the Second Amendment from their booth during a student recruitment fair on campus.
“We displayed this flag to express our support for the Second Amendment,” Benjamin Keene, Chapter Chair of Orange Coast College’s (OCC) Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) chapter, told Townhall. “It is completely outrageous that the college would censor our freedom of expression to display the image of a firearm. It is very un-American of the administration to prohibit us from displaying our Constitutional right.”
Beth Bauman at Townhall reported that OCC argued the banner violated school policy AP 3530, which prohibits “firearms, knives, explosives or other dangerous objects” and any “facsimile of a firearm.” By displaying a silhouette of a rifle, the banner violated the “facsimile of a firearm” provision of the policy, according to OCC.
This argument, however, is a distortion of the word “facsimile,” as it is traditionally used. “Facsimiles” represent something that can be mistaken for the real thing it represents. A silhouette of a firearm on a banner cannot be mistaken for a real firearm for many reasons.
This linguistic distortion led YAF to suspect there is something more sinister behind the school’s actions.
“School administrators are manipulating school policy to censor students’ support of the Second Amendment,” Brown tweeted after the incident.
Eugene Volokh, a law professor at UCLA, argued in favor of YAF’s position in a recent article he authored for The Volokh Conspiracy, a weblog hosted by Reason Magazine.
“Once a university opens up a space where students may display banners, it then may not restrict such displays unless the restriction is viewpoint-neutral and reasonable,” Volokh wrote. “It’s hard to see a viewpoint-neutral rationale for banning even silhouette displays of guns, which no-one would confuse for real guns.”
OCC did not immediately respond to GPM’s request for comment.
Robert Davis is a general assignment reporter for Gunpowder Magazine. You can contact him with tips or comments at [email protected] or on Twitter @Davisonthebeat.