The Girl Behind the Viral Graduation Picture of Her Cap and Rifle

Kaitlin Bennett's Kent State graduation photos went viral this week.

Kaitlin Bennett (Via Twitter)
Kaitlin Bennett (Via Twitter)

Kaitlin Bennett says that if she were allowed to carry a gun at Kent State University, she would have carried her pistol, not an AR-10 rifle. But she chose her rifle for her graduation photos on Kent State’s campus. The 22-year-old told The Washington Post that she chose to pose with the rifle because it made for a stronger symbol. As a non-student, she could arm herself on the Ohio campus.

She spent her four years at the university campaigning for students to be able to carry concealed weapons on campus, the same campus where nearly 50 years ago, the Ohio National Guard opened fire into a crowd of unarmed students protesting the Vietnam War, killing four and wounding nine. “I believe that if the government has it, we should have it. Machine guns — any weaponry,” Bennett told The Washington Post. 

Her tweet has nearly 5,000 retweets and almost 20,000 likes since being posted on Sunday.

She has received a lot of criticism, with people saying it is an example of white privilege that she is able to walk around campus with the gun.

She responded to the criticism, calling it “racist.”

“I think that’s very insulting to minorities,” Bennett said, according to The Post. “I don’t think that anything bad would happen to them.”

She also defended herself, saying she had a black police officer with her the whole time who “loved it.”

Kent State bans students, staff and faculty from carrying “deadly weapons” but state law allows graduates and visitors to openly carry weapons on campus, but only outdoors. Bennett co-organized an open-carry demonstration three weeks ago and invited nearby residents to bring their firearms to the university.

Bennett has not wavered under the criticism.

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