Banning Guns (and Opinions About Guns) in College


In the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings in April, Hamline University student Troy Scheffler writes emails (in response to emails from them sent to the student body) to the president and vice-president for student affairs of the Minnesota university, complaining about his school's no-weapons and diversity policies.

He is suspended pending a mental health evaluation. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) comes to his defense. From FIRE's press release:

FIRE wrote to [university] President [Linda] Hanson on May 29, 2007, vehemently opposing the sanctions against Scheffler, since neither of Scheffler's e-mails even came close to meeting the legal definition of a "threat." FIRE also pointed out that Hamline maintains a "Freedom of Expression and Inquiry" policy that encourages the public expression of opinions and the freedom to examine and discuss all questions of interest. FIRE wrote that "it is difficult to reconcile these admirable commitments to freedom of expression with Hamline's hasty actions against Scheffler."
FIRE also informed Hamline administrators that subjecting Scheffler to a mandatory psychological evaluation poses a grave threat to liberty at Hamline. FIRE wrote, "A psychological evaluation, to be overseen by a Hamline administrator, is one of the most invasive and disturbing intrusions upon Scheffler's individual right to private conscience imaginable. Because Scheffler has shown no proclivity toward violence and has made no threatening comments, this psychological evaluation seeks to assess his political opinions…."

Some past FIRE blogging. reason contributor Declan McCullagh discusses this case over at C/NET.