Bowling Green professor admits to "lobbying activity," claims support for gun ownership racially motivated

On November 30, I published an article exposing a large number of faculty at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) for having used university resources to lobby against House Bill 48 (Eliminate many 'no-guns' victim zones).

I reported that Dr. James E. Evans, a professor of geology and ringleader of participant in the lobbying effort, informed Rep. Tim Brown (R-Bowling Green) that he considers the National Rifle Association (NRA), which is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization, to be "a murderous terrorist organization that is a threat to national security."

I also noted that the BGSU "Handbook of Commonly Shared Employment Policies for BGSU Faculty, Administrative and Classified Staff" states that "It is university policy that all contact with state and federal legislators and governmental agencies be coordinated through the Office of University Relations and Governmental Affairs," and that the "Use of the University letterhead, address,e-mail system or other identification that might associate the content and conclusion of the document with the University should be avoided."

While my inquiries about the matter to the Office of the President, Mary Ellen Mazey ([email protected], @PresidentMazey), have gone unanswered, I have had two email exchanges with faculty members.

One faculty member contacted me out of concern that her @bgsu email address was on the letter she sent to Rep. Brown. She told me that she is "careful to follow university policy," and explained that she thought she had used her personal email address, not her university one. I sent her a copy of the email received by Rep. Brown's office and obtained by Buckeye Firearms Association through a public records request, showing that the letter was in fact received from her @bgsu email, and she promised to take corrective action.

Another faculty member complained that his First Amendment rights were somehow violated when we published the list of faculty members who had collaborated about the lobbying effort on the [email protected] listserv. It soon became clear that his real beef is with the Ohio Public Records Act, which exists to ensure that taxpayers have the ability to hold public institutions accountable. He said he believes "the FOI laws need to be addressed and altered."

Still another faculty member, Dr. Timothy Messer-Kruse ([email protected]), chose to express his displeasure through a racially-charged article published at of Messer-Kruse at

Messer-Kruse, a Professor of Ethnic Studies in the School of Critical and Cultural Studies, began his article with a erroneous statement:

Last week Ohio joined dozens of other Republican-controlled states in further loosening its gun laws to lower penalties for carrying firearms in prohibited areas and expanding the list of public places a person could enter with his hidden weapon, including police stations, airports, and day care facilities.

Actually, while HB 48 did pass in the House, it still must face Senate committee consideration and a floor vote before being sent to Governor John Kasich for his signature. (So there's still plenty of time for Messer-Kruse and his fellow faculty members to misuse public resources to mount their personal crusades).

Messer-Kruse also falsely labels Buckeye Firearms Association as "a local NRA affiliate." Buckeye Firearms Association is NOT an affiliate of the NRA. The official NRA state association for Ohio is the Ohio Rifle and Pistol Association.

Notably, Messer-Kruse admits that the actions performed on the [email protected] listserv and via email accounts were in fact "lobbying activity" - something that university policy prohibits.

Just as did one of the other faculty members who contacted me, Messer-Kruse alleges that "several of the professors named in the BFA story were soon inundated with hate mail," but neither have produced any evidence of this claim. In fact, the letters they did share (either with me or via Messer-Kruse's article, were operating strictly in the arena of ideas, not "hate."

Never-the-less, Messer-Kruse admits that the faculty members again took to the [email protected] listserv, this time to ridicule the taxpayers who took the time to share their concerns:

Upset at this assault on their ivory tower, professors generally ridiculed these letter-writers as rubes, making much of the fact that one of the letter writers’ day job was as ‘choo choo’ the clown. They easily picked apart the logical, factual, and grammatical errors in the gun advocates’ messages. However, it was clear from their characterizations of the gun advocates’ arguments that few academics took seriously the other side’s ideas and concerns, instead flattening them into a caricature of Cliven Bundyite vigilantes who love their guns more than their society. Professors tended to see the issue as simply one of safety versus a perverse right-wing interpretation of constitutional rights.

This honest observation about the attitudes of the BGSU faculty towards concerned taxpayers marks the high point in his article, after which follows a descent into madness.

Messer-Kruse next examines the reasons for which "the concealed carry movement has succeeded at the same time that Americans’ interest in owning guns continues to fall." He cites a flawed and debunked poll from the University of Chicago claiming that gun ownership is on the decline, but his search for an answer to the concealed carry movement's success apparently didn't lead him to recent Gallup and Pew surveys, both of which indicates growing support for gun rights. Indeed, the Gallup survey found that more than six in 10 Americans say guns make homes safer.

Messer-Kruse then states that "a crucial fact for understanding American gun culture is the huge gender, racial, and age gap in gun ownership, once again missing the trends observed by Gallup, that when asked "Do you think having a gun in the house makes it a safer place to be or a more dangerous place to be?", 58% of women, 56% of "nonwhites," and strong majorities in all areas of the country (East, Midwest, South and West) believe that guns make homes safer. Indeed, both Gallup and Pew found that support is increasing across gender, racial and demographic lines. We'll come back to those numbers again in just a bit.

Messer-Kruse then goes on to torturously dissect two supposed "hate" letters, somehow turning the statement by one letter-writer that "The mere carrying of a concealed firearm by a fellow citizen, especially one who has undergone the concealed carry license training (which is best done via the National Rifle Association’s “Basic Pistol Course”), is no threat to Professor Evans" into a diatribe on how the letter-writer supposedly feels gun ownership is necessary for citizenship, and how this statement serves as proof that all license-holders elevate themselves in their own minds as "protectors" of everyone else.

Messer-Kruse attempts to flesh out his assertion that licensees see themselves as "protector[s], providing a crucial public service" with this:

This rhetoric of a nation imperiled by the gun shy and shielded by armed citizens needs to be taken seriously to understand how the carrying of concealed weapons is one powerful solution to a deepening crisis of identity among a certain group of mostly white men. A concealed weapon is not powerfully attractive to this group because it is physically empowers them or adds to their sense of personal safety, though as a symbol both of these meanings can and are attached to it, but rather its greater satisfaction is its ability to clarify the holder’s imagined social role thereby unifying a fractured self-identity. Through the hidden gun, the carrier is able to conceive of himself as worthy, as an important member of the social and political community in ways that tap powerful ancient currents of American political culture.

He continues:

Gun ownership by itself does little to fill the gaps in white identity that all these historic changes have chipped away. Simple gun ownership is a private activity, restricted to the home which, after all, is a traditionally female space. Concealed or open carry is a public act, asserting rights and membership in the larger civic world. It is an act that restores to the carrier the role of protector and citizen, roles lost to him not only by the dilution of white power in a multiracial nation but by the corporate takeover of democracy through the neoliberal abandonment of electoral financing laws. A man with a concealed gun in his pocket is a self-deputized protector of the public, and though gun advocates will admit that the chances of actually being a life-saving hero are microscopic, individuals can still imagine that their presence is making the space around them safer because the cumulative effect of millions of carriers is believed to deter crime. Thus, even if they never draw their piece, concealed carriers identify as “protectors” and active important citizens fulfilling a vital role in society. A role as white men they have lost in other ways.

Let's go back to that Gallup survey again, shall we?

If 58% of women, and 56% of "nonwhites" and strong majorities in all areas of the country (East Midwest, South and West) believe that guns make homes safer, why is the nutty professor of ethnic studies so fixated on white males? The Pew survey found that nearly double the amount of African-Americans today (54%), believe that gun ownership protects people from crime than just two years ago (29%).

Why isn't Timothy Messer-Kruse interested in trends showing that support for gun ownership among women and minorities is increasing? Because if he did, he would have to write off his own "flatten[ed]...caricature of Cliven Bundyite vigilantes who love their guns more than their society."

This exact point was made in a op-ed a few years ago, entitled "What the Left Won't Tell You About The Boom In U.S. Gun Sales":

But the thing is the surge is gun sales didn’t begin in 2008. Over the last 10 years (from 2002 to 2011) there has been a 54.1 percent rise in the number of NICS checks and the increase hasn’t all taken place since 2008. In 2005 there were 8,952,945 NICS checks. In 2006 the number topped 10 million. In 2007 NICS checks pushed passed 11 million. In 2008 NICS checks passed 12 million, and then hit the 14 million mark in 2009. They increased slightly (4 percent) through 2011.

So attributing this entire trend to President Obama’s anti-gun reputation is disingenuous, yet many in the media like this explanation because by saying the increase in gun sales is only about President Obama they can then write the whole thing off as a simple-minded fear from those who “cling to guns and religion.”

...So why did overall gun sales begin going up well before President Obama was elected? The answer is in the way American’s view guns.

The answer to Professor Messer-Kruse's question, "How is it that the concealed carry movement has succeeded[?]" is indeed the way Americans view guns. American women, American minorities, American Democrats, younger Americans, older Americans, and yes, white American men.

It appears it is the academia at BGSU that is under-informed and behind the times.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary, BFA PAC Vice Chairman, and an NRA-certified firearms instructor. He is the editor of, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website.

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