Gun Protest Backfires

, Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Thu, April 19 2012 at 5:17 PM, Updated: Thu, April 19 2012 at 6:46 PM

An effort to protest campus bans on concealed handguns has backfired on the president of the Oregon Institute of Technology gun club.  OIT nursing student Royce Pierce now finds himself in a legal battle...

OIT gun club president Royce Pierce has been actively promoting 'Empty Holster Day', a national effort sponsored by . 

Pierce was jailed Tuesday on a charge of disorderly conduct.  While Pierce's attorney has advised him not to talk to the media, friends like OIT student body vice-president Nick Odeh says he's shaken up...

"He seemed almost a little panicked, because it's a national demonstration he was taking part in."

The 'Empty Holster' event was mentioned in the Edge, the OIT campus newspaper.

But, problems began last week when suspicious items were found on the Klamath Community College Campus where Pierce takes a science class...

"They were firearm paraphernalia, I suppose I can say that."  Noted KCC's Ryan Brown.  "And a message that referenced the shootings that occurred a few years ago at Virginia Tech University."

When Pierce learned of the investigation, he went to talk to police - and was arrested.

Pierce could argue that his first and second amendment rights to free speech and right to bear arms are being violated.  But Klamath County District Attorney Ed Caleb says that there are exceptions...

"Free speech is not unregulated.  For example, you or I can't walk into a crowded theater and yell 'fire'."

The D.A. still hasn't seen the police reports, and will need to prove any criminal intent.  Nick Odeh just hopes the issue gets resolved...

"The Sheriff's department is doing what they're supposed to do, and Royce did what he thought was in his best interest, and hopefully, it gets hashed out."

Pierce is banned for now from the Klamath Community College campus.

The recently passed Oregon Senate Bill 242 allowed the Oregon University System to adopt a policy March 2nd that prohibits concealed handguns on all Oregon public university campuses.

About the Author

Lyle Ahrens

KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's.  He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.

Lyle's job history is quite colorful.  He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand.  A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer.  In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.

Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience.  "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain.  Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".

When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.

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