Jeffry Smith, an open-carry activist, was spotted around the University of Cincinnati campus this week with two sidearms, a larger rifle, and even ammunition at times. Three University of Cincinnati employees contacted WCPO to say Smith’s presence made them feel uncomfortable.
According to a post on Smith’s Facebook page, he spent about 10 hours on Wednesday at the Tangeman University Center with members of the campus group “Young Americans for Liberty.” They were attempting to gather signatures on a petition as to involve more students in decisions about campus carry rights. Furthermore, according to his Facebook, Smith also attended a Student Senate meeting from 6:00 to 9:00 P.M. advocating for open carry.
University of Cincinnati Director of Public Safety James Whalen released a statement Wednesday promising to monitor Smith’s presence on campus and reassured the university community’s safety.
“I want to share with you that individuals have been seen on UC’s Uptown campus exercising their constitutional right to openly carry a firearm (bear arms). In the state of Ohio, open carry of a firearm is legally permitted in public spaces, pursuant to the United States and Ohio Constitutions. Ohio courts have consistently ruled that state universities are public spaces; however, open carry is not permitted inside university buildings including classrooms. As you walk outside between buildings on the Uptown campus you may see these individuals. Please be assured that UC Police have been, and will continue to, be in close proximity to monitor the individuals, answer questions and ensure a safe environment for students, faculty and staff and visitors.
I would like to assure you that the safety of our students, faculty, staff and visitors is our highest priority and we will continue to monitor this activity.”
Ohio’s open carry laws were just recently changed in December when Governor John Kasich signed a bill allowing concealed carry in daycare centers and on college campuses. In doing so, college campuses are now no longer automatically off limits to concealed weapons, but trustees must choose to allow them.