A campus-wide email promoting an event about 3D-printed guns has upset some Iowa State University students in the wake of mass shootings in Boulder, Colorado, and Atlanta.
The email sent Tuesday by Students for 2A — a day after a gunman killed 10 people at a Boulder grocery store — featured a GIF of a pistol being printed.
Members of the student organization had arranged the mass email request before they were aware of the Boulder shooting, Students for 2A president Daniel Eisenstein told the Ames Tribune. He said the student group was “incensed by the disgusting violence” in Boulder and Atlanta.
The presentation on home gunsmithing scheduled for next week will go on as planned, he said.
“If we consider delaying or canceling our presentations, we would fail to meet the goals of our organization, including our ability to have open and honest discussions with those who vehemently disagree with us,” Eisenstein said via email.
Iowa State spokesperson Angie Hunt said Students for 2A had followed university policy in planning and promoting the event, adding that the presentation is “not a demonstration of 3D printing or weapons.”
“While not everyone may support the topic, all students have the right to gather and discuss issues that others may feel are controversial or do not align with their values,” Hunt said in a statement. “We understand our students’ concerns, and as a campus community we mourn with those who have lost loved ones in the recent violent mass shooting tragedies in Boulder and Atlanta.”
Mass emails should be “relevant to the University’s core missions,” according to a university webpage on the topic.
The letter said those involved in sending the email “did not understand the emotional intensity the events of the past week have taken on students,” particularly Asian American and Pacific Islander students. Six of the eight people killed in Georgia were Asian women.
“The University should release a statement condemning the timeliness, insensitivity, and potentially harmful and triggering nature of the email,” the letter said. “The student organization, Students for 2A, should also release a statement acknowledging the harm caused.”
PhD student Loulou Dickey said regardless of the email’s timing, she believes the event is inappropriate for a college campus.
“It’s not like it’s a far-fetched idea that we could have a shooting on campus … we have to take these (active shooter) trainings in order to protect ourselves,” Dickey said. “And here we are on campus, allowing this event (about making your own weapons).”
When Dickey emailed the dean of students about her concerns, she was provided links to counseling services. She called this response “gaslighting.”
“I have nothing against therapy. I think it’s great,” Dickey said. “But that’s just not the response that I think should have been sent. I don’t need counseling because I’m concerned about guns.”
Students for 2A has 45 student members and is affiliated with the National Rifle Association, according to its Iowa State website.
The group’s description says due to “a culture war against the second amendment,” Students for 2A’s efforts include “training members to offer a pro-gun perspective in relevant debates, lobbying for pro-gun legislation, and education on the safe handling and practical applications of firearms in our era.”
The organization’s university page links to CTRL+Pew, which covers law and technology developments in 3D-printed firearms.
That site’s Twitter account has posted multiple tweets with the hashtag “boogaloo.”
Boogaloo is an anti-government extremist movement that began in 2019, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The loosely connected group has some ties to the white power movement, Vox reported, although not all members are white nationalists or white supremacists. Some support a civil war with the government. Gun confiscation is a major concern of the movement.
Anti-government “boogaloo” rhetoric has been linked to at least 15 arrests and five deaths, according to The Guardian.
Eisenstein said Students for 2A is not associated with CTRL+Pew and that the Twitter account does not necessarily reflect the students’ views.
“We linked ctrlpew.com on our organization’s website as it is a good source of news covering developments regarding 3D-printed firearms as well as a comprehensive guide to getting started with 3D printer operations,” Eisenstein said. “It is merely a coincidence that they are incorporated in Iowa.”