NH university warns of gun-toting protesters

Posted Dec. 08, 2011, at 9:21 p.m.

CONCORD, N.H. — The president of New Hampshire’s Plymouth State University told students Thursday they don’t have to come to class Friday because activists may appear on campus with loaded guns to protest the school’s ban on weapons on campus.

Plymouth State President Sara Jayne Steen told students in an email that they would not be penalized for failing to go to class if they fear for their safety.

She said a court order obtained by the university Thursday might not prevent two activists who plan to protest on campus from showing up, and added that the two also have sympathizers who could turn out with weapons.

“If you are uncomfortable, please make the best decision for yourself about being on campus,” Steen said in the email to students, staff and faculty.

The Grafton County Superior Court order forbids the activists from violating the campus gun policy, and Steen said the ban will be enforced.

The two men claim the ban is unconstitutional and told the university earlier this week that they plan to distribute information on campus Friday, while carrying loaded, unconcealed rifles, university officials said. Later, the two said the weapons would not be loaded and would have trigger locks and other safety devices on them, the university said.

Steen identified the two men in the email as Bradley Jardis and Tommy Mozingo. Jardis did not immediately respond to an online request for comment posted on a website he operates called freekeene.com. The website Thursday evening said the court order contained “some pretty outrageous stuff.” A New Hampshire phone number for a Tommy Mozingo was not answered on several calls.

Steen said university officials and Jardis have had conversations throughout the week.

“They are set on violating the policy by coming to campus with rifles, albeit unloaded and with trigger locks,” Steen wrote. “We expect there will be a number of sympathizers in attendance, some of whom have announced they will be armed.”

Plymouth spokesman Timothy Kersher said faculty and staff also have the option of taking a vacation day Friday if they have safety concerns. He would not discuss what security precautions would be taken.

“We will be prepared for whatever is presented to us,” Kershner said.

In a post on freekeene.com, Jardis condemned the fatal shooting Thursday of a police officer at Virginia Tech and addressed PSU students. “Please don’t advocate for taking away your own self-defense rights. Criminals don’t care about the law,” he said.

The court order also required Jardis to post the ruling on the website, university officials said.

Jardis resigned from the Epping Police Department last year after he apparently was suspended, the Union Leader reported in 2010. The previous year, the chief recommended that Jardis be fired because of his vocal support for the legalization of drugs, the newspaper reported.

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