Tracey Tuten, a professor at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, has said that she plans to arm herself with a gun in response to a peaceful, silent protest by students during the national anthem on Oct. 1, even though carrying guns on the campus is illegal under state law.
Tuten told WITN that she was stalked several years ago: "I am so scared every day that I walk onto that campus and do not have my gun with me. If you have not been stalked before, you do not understand what it feels like, but it is really intimidating. It is so scary."
ECU Interim Police Chief Jason Sugg countered: "While I can appreciate Dr. Tuten's intent to bring attention to constitutional discussions, carrying a handgun on campus property in the manner in which she described is currently prohibited by state law. Based on the most recent information given to us, we are hopeful that Dr. Tuten has reconsidered her intended action."
Nineteen students, who are part of the school's marching band, knelt during the anthem at a school football game to protest police racism and brutality.
WITN reports that a press release by ECU's music department said that future protests by the marching band "will not be tolerated."
Tuten wrote a letter to ECU Chancellor Cecil Staton, notes WNCT: "Since the band members can act on the first amendment without regard to university rules, I too want to act on my second amendment rights to bear arms."
Tuten did not say if she is currently being stalked, or how the students' peaceful protest was specifically linked to her former stalker.
Tuten told WNCT: "I am planning to carry on campus from here on out... Does the university want me to not protect myself, and they’re OK with these band members totally disrespecting the university rules, but I’m not OK protecting myself? For university rules? Really?”
A WNCT reporter reminded Tuten twice that the ban against guns on college campuses is a state law, but she insisted that it was a university rule.
Tuten, who said that her family has withdrawn a gift of over $1 million to ECU, was asked if she was concerned about being fired.
"Bring it," Tuten replied.
Tuten suggested in a Facebook posting on Oct. 5 that she was not going to bring her gun on campus:
I want to thank everyone for the support you’ve shown for me and our second amendment rights. It is important that I make it clear that I do not intend to commit any felonies. I want to shine a light on the hypocrisy of supporting first amendment rights but not second amendment rights. All of our rights are important.
There is an opportunity to hold a peaceful and legal demonstration to support these rights. At this time, I am researching what form of demonstration will fall within the law and effectively communicate our message. Thanks again for your support.