KU professor suspended after blaming NRA for Navy Yard shooting - KCTV5

KU professor suspended after blaming NRA for Navy Yard mass shooting

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LAWRENCE, KS (KCTV) -

As a journalism professor at the University of Kansas continued to defend his tweets about the National Rifle Association following the mass shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, DC, he was suspended.

KU officials initially said Thursday that David Guth's tweets were repugnant, but he had free-speech rights. University officials emphasized Guth's tweets do not reflect the views of the university.

But the university announced Friday that Guth has been suspended.

"In order to prevent disruptions to the learning environment for students, the School of Journalism and the university, I have directed Provost Jeffrey Vitter to place Associate Professor Guth on indefinite administrative leave pending a review of the entire situation," Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said in a statement.

She said Guth's classes will be handled by other faculty members.

In an interview with KCTV5's Bonyen Lee, Guth said he understands why KU has suspended because of the disruption they have caused. He said stood by the sentiments of the tweets and wanted to bring attention to the victims of mass shootings. But he regrets the adverse publicity his comments have brought his employer.

Guth has been a professor for KU for 23 years.

The Kansas State Rifle Association called Thursday for David Guth's dismissal.

On Sept. 16, Guth tweeted, "#NavyYardShooting The blood is on the hands of the NRA. Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters. Shame on you. May God damn you."

He later wrote, "God's justice takes many forms."

Campusreform.com apparently broke the news about the tweets. KCTV5 has been unable to reach Guth, but the website quoted Guth as saying he had no regrets.

"I don't take it back one bit," he said.

He elaborated on the issues on his personal blog, Snapping Turtle.

He said the NRA had blood on its hands, and he didn't care about any criticism he faced.

"I don't wish what happened today on anyone," he wrote. "But if it does happen again - and it likely will - may it happen to those misguided miscreants who suggest that today's death toll at the Navy Yard would have been lower if the employees there were allowed to pack heat. Those fools don't get it.

"If the price of 'security' is to turn every workplace into an environment that can erupt into a Dodge City-like shooting gallery with the slightest provocation, then we have really missed the point. There is no justification for the widespread sale of assault weapons, high-volume magazines or hollow-point bullets. In fact, their sale is a well-documented threat to national security. Enough is enough."

Kansas State Rifle Association President Patricia Stoneking said Guth should not be teaching children.

"The KSRA will do everything possible to see to the removal of this man. He should be fired immediately. His statements are outrageous," she said in a statement. "Any person with such a vile and contemptuous attitude who has influence over our children as a professor does should be immediately fired."

She suggested that Guth's rhetoric could influence a "mentally unstable individual."

"It is one thing to engage in thoughtful dialogue and speak against something but it is quite another to incite violence," she said. "This professor has obviously forgotten that it is human beings that commit crimes. Guns are inanimate objects and only human intervention causes them to be used in a criminal manner."

The issue divided KU students on Friday.

Some students said the comments were wrong but should be protected by freedom of speech.

"This is actually a society that I thought would engage or encourage people to be free in their comments," Onye Obi-Okoye, a law student, said. "Not just the general American society, but the university society."

Karley Stark said as a professor that Guth should have been more responsible with his comments.

"It's just very harmful toward groups of people," Stark said. "And as a professor, you can't afford to insult groups of people."

Ann Brill, dean of the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, on Thursday said the university does not advocate violence toward anyone.

"While the First Amendment allows anyone to express an opinion, that privilege is not absolute and must be balanced with the rights of others," Brill said. "That's vital to civil discourse."

University officials Thursday had not mentioned whether Guth would face any consequences for his comments on the internet.

"The contents of Professor Guth's tweet were repugnant and in no way represent the views or opinions of the University of Kansas," said Timothy C. Caboni, vice chancellor for public affairs. "Like all Americans, he has the right under the First Amendment to express his personal views and is protected in that regard. But it is truly disgraceful that these views were expressed in such a callous and uncaring way. We expect all members of the university community to engage in civil discourse and not make inflammatory and offensive comments."

Campus Reform quoted Guth as saying he wished "a pox on our Congress and a pox on the NRA" for not instituting gun control policies to prevent mass shootings.

"It absolutely appalls me that after Newtown, we could not have come to some kind of sane agreement on something as simple as the number of bullets in a magazine or the availability of assault weapons," he reportedly told the website.

Here is what Guth wrote on his personal blog:

"I am angry, frustrated, sad and determined. The news of the senseless slaughter today at Washington's Navy Yard has me again questioning how we can let this madness continue. Frankly, I don't care if I am criticized for being too quick to judge, too harsh in my criticism or too strident in my tone. The time has passed for niceties and tact. The blood spilled today is on the hands of the National Rifle Association. I don't care how the NRA tries to spin this. One fact is undeniable: The NRA has championed a gun culture that is shredding our nation's moral authority like armor-plated bullets ripping through flesh. Is that imagery too graphic for you? It is no worse than what we are seeing every night on our television screens. Do our citizens have a right to bear arms? Certainly, that's what the Constitution says. But as it is with every other right enumerated in the Bill of Rights, there are limits. A person's right to go about his or her job at the Navy Yard - or for that matter to attend an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut - trumps any individual's right to stockpile weapons of mass destruction in the name of personal freedom. I don't wish what happened today on anyone. But if it does happen again - and it likely will - may it happen to those misguided miscreants who suggest that today's death toll at the Navy Yard would have been lower if the employees there were allowed to pack heat. Those fools don't get it. If the price of "security" is to turn every workplace into an environment that can erupt into a Dodge City-like shooting gallery with the slightest provocation, then we have really missed the point. There is no justification for the widespread sale of assault weapons, high-volume magazines or hollow-point bullets. In fact, their sale is a well-documented threat to national security. Enough is enough. Lynn Jenkins, my congressional representative, is going to hear from me. And if she fails to support reasonable restrictions on these murderous munitions, I am going to give my money and vote to someone who will. There are two sides to this debate: The side of angels and the NRA. Where do you stand?

"That's it for now. Fear the Turtle"

KCTV5's Bonyen Lee contributed to this report.

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