by Nick James
The basic premise of the event was to host a dinner banquet for
supporters of the Second Amendment which included a keynote speech
from a member of the South Carolina General Assembly. To cap
off the evening we decided to give away a gift certificate for a
Mossberg 715t "assault style, modern sporting rifle." Before
we had even gone public with the event, the story had leaked and I
was contacted by Clemson administrators and was asked to have a
meeting immediately. Coincidently, on the day I was contacted, a
Clemson student had been arrested for driving through campus while
his personal firearm was in the glove box of his car.
After working with the administration at Clemson I had come to
the realization that I could not simply give the gun to a banquet
attendee. While giving away a gun was not the primary purpose
of our program, it was an important goal for my club from a
marketing and community engagement standpoint. We felt that
the best way to show and encourage support for the Second Amendment
was to give one lucky citizen a great firearm they can use to
protect their home, compete with, or even hunt with. We
refused to compromise and remove this aspect of our event.
After some careful planning and legal considerations, we decided
we would move forward with the event as planned, but with one
modification: we would allow non-banquet attendees the same chance
as those who actually paid to come to our banquet the chance to win
the Mossberg. Once we started marketing the event, the
firestorm really started. I was receiving hate mail to both
the Clemson YAF chapter inbox and my own personal inbox.
Liberal professors began rallying forces against me on public Facebook pages, all because my club wanted to work with all
applicable laws, to give a law abiding citizen, a perfectly legal
Things really hit their peak when "Moms Demand Action for Gun
Sense" of South Carolina began hammering Clemson to shut my event
down. Thankfully, I had spent countless hours receiving
advice from multiple legal and legislative sources and it was
concluded that the political action group had no grounds for action
against my club since we were clearly and carefully following all
applicable state and federal law. After a final pressrelease, the anti-gun harassment died down and I was able to focus
on the execution of our event.
I am glad to say our event went off without a hitch. We had an
overflow of students and were forced to turn some prospective
attendees away due to fire code requirements. We ended up
with not one but three great speakers, two of them being from the
SC General Assembly (Rep. Mike Pitts and Sen. Lee Bright).
Our third speaker was Richard Belmore, a South Carolina law
enforcement weapons instructor with decades of expert experience in
Putting on this banquet has been the best experience of my
college career to date. Being able to get 70 people together
on a rainy Friday night in the name of freedom brings a
satisfaction like no other. I also realized how lucky I am to
have the support of Young America's Foundation. Their guidance is
priceless. Finally, this event made me proud to be a Clemson
student. I am forever grateful for the work done by the General
Counsel's office. While they did not represent me or my
interest, they did spend lots of time answering my questions and
responding to complaints from those on the left who neglected to do
their own research as to the legality of my chapter's event.
Nick James is the chairman of Clemson Young Americans for Freedom.