Editor’s note: A non-student source in this story requested her name not be published for fear of retaliation. The Daily Texan is using the pseudonym “Betsy” upon her request.
The government should not be in control of citizens’ rights to carry a gun, said Dana Loesch, conservative commentator and NRA spokesperson, at an event on campus Thursday.
In a speech hosted by UT’s Young Conservatives of Texas and Young America’s Foundation, Loesch spoke about Second Amendment rights and issues, gun violence and personal freedoms, and said the backlash against gun rights is driven by fear.
“People are scared to be in charge of their own affairs and they’re scared to be individuals,” Loesch said.
YCT chairman Saurabh Sharma said it was important to have Loesch come to talk to students because of how prevalent the gun debate is on campus.
“We see continuous efforts to attempt to repeal campus carry at UT and activism regarding this issue,” said Sharma, a biochemistry senior. “(YCT) thinks Loesch is very effective at talking about (gun) issues, making the case for the constitutional rights we all hold and expanding the case to the greatest stability we can.”
In the two-hour discussion, Loesch said the “defenseless,” such as women and schoolchildren, should have their lives protected by firearms and should not be penalized for their misuse by others. She said legislation that restrict people’s access to guns — like that proposed after recent school shootings, such as Parkland — unfairly limits people who need firearms to defend themselves. Additionally, Loesch shared personal stories from her childhood about gun use, including an incident where firearms were used to defend the women in her family against abusive men.
The event drew a handful of protesters, including Betsy, a 1981 alumna of UT. Betsy, who is anti-campus carry and anti-open carry, was there to protest the NRA.
“I believe the NRA has entirely too much power in American politics,” Betsy said. “They’re artificially affecting the gun laws and the safety of Americans by denying us the free right to be safe in schools and in public places.”
She said she hopes UT students do the research about the NRA and “learn the truth” behind the organization.
“Their power and influence over American politics is inordinate and unfair and unjust,” Betsy said.
Adam Cahn, a longtime friend of Loesch, attended the discussion in support of her. Cahn said he believes it’s important to have discussions about controversial issues on campus.
“I think it’s important to have a robust debate on a lot of issues,” Cahn said. “Dana is a well-known national figure with a well-known perspective on some fairly big prominent issues. And I think in the spirit of just free debate and inquisitiveness and intellectual curiosity, I think it’s important for everybody to come to events like these, everybody including UT students.”
Citizens have to fight for their personal freedoms and liberties, she said.
“Liberty is not easy. Liberty is not comfortable. Liberty isn’t supposed to be a guarantee of happiness,” Loesch said. “It’s supposed to be a guarantee you can pursue happiness.”