The Young Conservatives of Texas printed a "jocular" flyer of "Top 10 Gun Safety Tips":
Top Ten Gun Safety Tips
10. Always keep your gun pointed in a safe direction, such as at a Hippy or a Communist.
9. Dumb children might get a hold of your guns and shoot each other. If your children are dumb, put them up for adoption to protect your guns.
8. No matter how responsible he seems, never give your gun to a monkey.
7. If guns make you nervous, drink a bottle of whiskey before heading to the range.
6. While unholstering your weapon, it's customary to say "Excuse me while I whip this out."
5. Don't load your gun unless you are ready to shoot something or are just feeling generally angry.
4. If your gun misfires, never look down the barrel to inspect it.
3. Never us your gun to pistol whip someone. That could mar the finish.
2. No matter how excited you are about buying your first gun, do not run around yelling "I have a gun! I have a gun!"
1. And the most important rule of gun safety: Don't piss me off.
The response was predictable (even for Texas)--hysteria. According to FIRE:
According to YCT Chairman Robert Comer, Program Manager for Student Activities Shannon Marino told him that the flyer was inappropriate and confiscated the flyers. Comer appealed to Dean of Student Development E. Edward Albracht, but Albracht also said the flyer was inappropriate and invoked last year's shootings at Virginia Tech. In response, Comer made new flyers without the "Top Ten" theme and distributed them for the remainder of the club rush.
The college's efforts to censor YCT's expression did not end there. On September 11, Marino informed Comer that the school's legal department would be reviewing the flyers and that afterward, the school might disband YCT or put the group on probation for the year—simply because of the recruitment flyer.
FIRE wrote Lone Star College--Tomball President Raymond Hawkins on September 26, reminding him of the college's constitutional obligation not to subject YCT to prosecution and censorship. FIRE noted that as a public college, Lone Star College--Tomball is required to respect the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and to acknowledge that the flyer's contents constitute protected speech. FIRE asked President Hawkins to respond by October 10.
On October 14, FIRE received an e-mail from Brian S. Nelson, General Counsel for the Lone Star College System. Nelson stated that any "mention of firearms and weapons" is inherently a "material interference with the operation of the school or the rights of others" because such language "brings fear and concern to students, faculty and staff." Nelson also stated that "the tragedy of Virginia Tech cannot be underestimated when it comes to speech relating to firearms—however 'satirical and humorous' the speech may be perceived by some."
So because of "the tragedy of Virginia Tech" we now have a new exception to the First Amendment for "speech relating to firearms"? There is no serious argument here that the Young Conservatives were threatening anybody, so this really is nothing more than "speech relatinig to firearms."
And do we really believe that Lone Star's policy is that any "mention" of firearms "brings fear and concern" to the university campus? What about the e-mail from General Counsel Nelson--doesn't that "mention" firearms? What about any rules or regulations that the college has that governs bringing guns on campus--do those "mention" firearms? Are we now in the world of the Knights Who Say "Nee" such that any mention of the the word "firearm" creates pain and anguish for the entire university community?
And what about student speech that advocates stricter gun control laws or stricter gun policies at Lone Star--is that banned under the rule? Stricter regulation of guns would make me nervous about my safety. Or is it only speech that could be perceived as being supportive of gun rights? What else do they think they can do--create an exception to the 4th Amendment to engage in random (or non-random) strip searches of students to make sure they aren't carrying concealed weapons?
If I follow this logic, then "because of the tragedy of 9/11" Lone Star could restrict any "speech related to Islam." Or because of "the tragedy of 9/11" we could create an exception to the 4th Amendment or the 6th Amendment or the 8th Amendment.
If we are dealing with a bona fide threat, that of course is one thing. But c'mon, jokes about giving guns to monkeys and "don't look into the barrel of your gun to inspect it" could lead to disciplinary action against these kids? Absurd.
More generally, this is the sort of thing that I suspect we'll see more of in coming years--overzealous college administrators invoking the Virginia Tech tragedy to try to shut down any pro-gun speech on campus.
Patent Lawyer suggests an important admendment to the original post that I am happy to accept:
The better Monty Python reference is to "Life of Brian", where the guy is stoned for blasphemy for saying, "That fish was good enough for Jehovah." And then the official overseeing the stoning gets stoned himself for saying the word "Jehovah".