[Ed: Yesterday, Students for Campus Carry issued a press release regarding Antonia Okafor’s involvement in getting a campus carry bill signed into law in Texas. Here is her response.]
By Antonia Okafor
Those skeptical about my involvement with campus carry in Texas are right. The main credit for SB11 should go to orgs like TSRA, NRA, SCC and the many individual activists that helped draft and pressed legislators to vote yes for that bill.
But no, I’m not going to succumb to the lie that I took no part in organizing for the bill.
And this was made evident in early 2015 in my time as president of the UT Dallas chapter of the Network of Enlightened Women. In which our org was stopped by campus police two hours into gathering signatures of support from students for campus carry. One of our members thankfully recorded that incident. An occurrence then picked up by publications Campus Reform, The Blaze and later, Fox News.
It was made evident when I organized those who signed the petition to be vocal on campus. Unfortunately despite that work on campus the UT Dallas student government still decided not to pass a favorable resolution. I then set my sights on working with an organization that was directly doing work in Austin.
This was all before becoming the Southwest Regional Director for SCC a few weeks after the bill finally passed. It was then that I continued my activism and moved solely to the focus of successfully implementing campus carry in Texas. Because of the way the bill was set up, many prominent universities tried to basically render the law null and void by putting so many restrictions on student gun owners that most would find it hard to carry on campus. My job was to call out and become a watchdog of sorts for every university that tried to implement such actions. I did and as a group we changed the minds of several because of it.
As a leader WITH Students for Concealed Carry, this was the bulk of my work. I did all this as an unpaid volunteer. Many times my school work and paid work suffered as a result. But the cause has always been personal for me. I have told many people before that the reason I am so passionate about the issue is because I am a survivor of sexual assault and I never want a girl to feel as defenseless or vulnerable as I did. Universities are one of the biggest gun free zones we have in this country.
Unfortunately, during my time with SCC, the leaders made it known several times that they didn’t appreciate my TV appearances on “conservative media.” Opportunities that mainly stemmed from my personal relationships and networking as my activism increased.
By that time, my story of switching parties largely because of the gun issue had spread. Shortly after, I was asked frequently to talk about my switch and my activism as a gun rights activist. I could not divorce the two things. My conservative/libertarian beliefs had a direct role in shaping my pro gun views.
And so, although it hurt me immensely that the group fired me. And that they chose to fire me while I was in my darkest moments while I was ill and unable to contact anyone for several days, I decided to turn my wounds into other people’s healing. I then shortly after decided to create an org that blended the very real problem and focus of sexual assault on college campuses( sexual assault awareness) with the conservative solution, gun rights. Those two things always coexisted and made sense together in my world. I am survivor of sexual assault and also a proud pro gun conservative, I wanted something for like-minded women. Thus, why emPOWERed exists today.
After SCC, I have continued that work with creating and building an organization focused on empowering young women to be gun rights activists on campus. The work and speeches I have made through emPOWERed and partnerships with other pro-gun groups like Clare Luce Booth Policy Center, Young Americans for Liberty, Turning Point USA and the Leadership Institute have all centered around encouraging students to take safety into their own hands and demand that their schools protect their second amendment rights-even on campus.
Since my time with SCC, I have largely focused on my heart to protect women from becoming victims. Not only preventing young women from becoming victims of actual assault but also the victimhood mentality that has plagued many in our current generation. My message preached the fact that gun rights ARE women’s rights. They are clearly for all people but they have an equalizing benefit particularly for women.
Yesterday, our Connecticut State Chair for emPOWERed sent me a picture of her passing out emPOWERed flyers and proudly holding up a poster she had made. She did all this in front of a speaking event at her school. They hosted anti-gun, March for Our Lives leader, David Hogg to speak. But Sarah made sure the pro gun student voice was heard as well!
Looking at the picture above makes me so incredibly proud. It reminds of how big this movement is and how many more voices we still need to include.
I made a similar statement almost two years ago in regards to my involvement with campus carry movement. I have never said I was solely responsible for passing campus carry. And many people involved with effort know that. Unfortunately, sometimes journalists misquote or may make it seem like I think this is the case. In my own words let me say, I do not.
But, I was an activist before and after my time with SCC. That is the truth.
My work has proven that. And a simple Google search can also prove that for those skeptical as well.
This post originally appeared at antoniaokafor.com and is reprinted here with permission.