In an effort to raise awareness of the university’s anti-gun policies, a student participated in a protest in which he wore an empty holster, emphasizing the fact that he and his fellow students are defenseless. Two campus police officers confronted him and another participating student, and their encounter was caught on video.
D. J. Parten is president of Students for Concealed Carry in Alabama. He told Campus Reform, “This week is the empty holster protest for Students for Concealed Carry in Alabama to demonstrate that students are defenseless on campus.”
Following Parten’s encounter with campus police, the officers cited the University of South Alabama student for wearing an empty holster, as it was “causing alarm.” While the university prohibits weapons of all sorts, its rules say nothing about empty holsters.
The university’s policy lists the prohibited items, which “includes, but is not limited to, bullets, ball bearing bullets, bullet balls, pellets, firearms, guns, knives, paintball guns, air guns, hunting bows, archery bows, swords, martial arts weapons, and replicas of such weapons. Toy and water guns are prohibited.”
In spite of the policy’s silence on empty holsters, the two campus police officers insisted that students must obtain permission from the university to wear them.
The officers repeatedly asked where Parten’s weapon was. From their perspective, since he was wearing an empty holster, he was obviously hiding a gun somewhere.
Parten tried explaining that it was a protest – an empty holster protest. But the officers said that it didn’t matter. Apparently, someone had called the police when the empty holster was spotted, and because someone was “alarmed” by it, the police had to respond.
At one point in the video, one of the officers even admitted to Parten that wearing an empty holster was not breaking campus rules, nor was it breaking any law. However, Parten was still cited for “causing alarm.”