FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 03/03/2016
Antonia Okafor, Southwest Regional Director, Students for Concealed Carry (SCC): email@example.com
Michael Newbern, Assistant Director of Public Relations: firstname.lastname@example.org
AUSTIN, TX – In response to anti-campus carry activists at the University of Texas and the University of Houston who espouse the conspiracy theory (started by the gun-control group Everytown for Gun Safety) that Students for Concealed Carry (SCC) was founded by and is funded by well-financed groups within the Tea Party, libertarian, and gun-rights movements, SCC announced today that it will donate $5,000 to any gun-control group—or to any 501(c)(3) non-profit organization designated by the gun-control group—that can, by March 31, 2016, prove any of the following:
- The national organization Students for Concealed Carry (SCC)/Students for Concealed Carry on Campus (SCCC) currently receives or previously received regular funding from one or more of the following organizations:
- The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC);
- The Leadership Institute (LI);
- Gun Owners of America (GOA);
- The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF);
- The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA);
- The National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR);
- Texas Gun Rights (TXGR);
- The Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC);
- The National Rifle Association (NRA);
- The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA);
- The Texas State Rifle Association (TSRA);
- Any national or statewide gun-rights group, Second Amendment organization, firearms trade organization, or firearms manufacturer;
- The Tea Party Patriots;
- Tea Party Express;
- Tea Party Nation;
- National Tea Party Federation (NTPF);
- The Nationwide Tea Party Coalition;
- Americans for Tax Reform;
- Americans for Prosperity (AFP);
- Any Tea Party organization;
- Charles G. Koch and/or David H. Koch (aka the Koch brothers);
- Any political party;
- Any political campaign; or
- Any political action committee;
- The Texas chapter of Students for Concealed Carry/Students for Concealed Carry on Campus currently receives or previously received regular funding from one or more of the organizations listed in claim #1;
- One or more of the organizations listed in claim #1 played a role in the conception and/or founding of Students for Concealed Carry/Students for Concealed Carry on Campus;
- One or more of the organizations listed in claim #1 provided startup capital to Students for Concealed Carry/Students for Concealed Carry on Campus;
- One or more of the organizations listed in claim #1 have or had a leadership role in or measure of governance over Students for Concealed Carry/Students for Concealed Carry on Campus; or
- Students for Concealed Carry/Students for Concealed Carry on Campus has ever been governed or controlled by any individual or organization other than the directors publicly named by SCC/SCCC at that time;
Antonia Okafor, Southwest director for Students for Concealed Carry, commented, “Since being founded in 2007 by college students shocked by the Virginia Tech massacre, Students for Concealed Carry has faced occasional rumors about its origins and funding. Such rumors are without factual basis but serve opponents’ intended purpose of derailing any discussion of the facts of campus carry.”
The currently circulating conspiracy theory—specifically, that SCC is a Tea Party front funded and directed by some combination of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Leadership Institute (LI), and/or Gun Owners of America (GOA)—stems from a July 5 article in The Trace, the official publication of the gun-control group Everytown for Gun Safety. While it’s fair to assume that The Trace is no more impartial on issues of gun rights than is the NRA publication America’s First Freedom, SCC doesn’t need to rely on ad hominem attacks to rebut the article’s claims.
In its 3,252 words, the Trace article, titled “The Secret History of the Campus Carry Movement,” offers only two pieces of evidence—both circumstantial—to support its claims. First, it notes that the Leadership institute offers grants to campus-based conservative groups. Second, it notes that the Leadership Institute and Gun Owners of America together advertised in 2006 that they were looking for college students to start “pro-gun” groups on university campuses. Neither of those facts has any connection to the founding, funding, or administration of Students for Concealed Carry.
The Leadership Institute’s grant program gives money to small campus groups, not large national organizations. Several of SCC’s campus chapters have applied for and received one-time $500 startup grants from the Leadership Institute, but that money was awarded to individual campus chapters, not SCC’s Texas chapter or national organization. For example, SCC’s University of Texas or University of Houston chapter might get $500 to help with purchasing signs, T-shirts, tabling supplies, etc.; however, SCC’s state and national leaders would never see any of that money or even know about it unless someone from that campus chapter happened to mention it to them. Donations received at the campus level help that chapter establish itself on campus but do not help SCC’s state-level lobbying efforts and do not influence SCC’s agenda, which is set at the national level. Because SCC does not provide funding to campus chapters, campus chapters are free to seek funding as they see fit.
As for LI and GOA placing a 2006 advertisement expressing interest in starting “pro-gun” groups on college campuses, that is what is known as a coincidence (a coincidence that nobody at SCC was aware of until The Trace reported on it). Presumably, the author of the article dug up LI and GOA’s ten-year-old advertisement and drew his own conclusions.
Far from “laying the groundwork for SCC,” this effort by LI and GOA seems to have gone nowhere, as there was no sign of it a year later when SCC was founded by a political science major at the University of North Texas, in response to the mass shooting at Virginia Tech. Two months after starting SCC, that UNT student got tired of working forty hours a week at an unpaid job and stepped down. Four other unpaid volunteers then stepped up, took over, and developed an organizational structure that allowed SCC to evolve from a Facebook group and one-page website into the thriving organization it is today. Any one of those five founders would have jumped at an offer of funding (particularly, as the article claims, a $50,000/year salary), but no such offer was ever made.
Contrary to the claims made by The Trace, no preexisting organization had any hand in the founding of SCC, no outside organization has ever provided regular funding to SCC, and no organization has ever provided salaries to SCC leaders (who are all unpaid volunteers). SCC has occasionally received help or cooperation from outside organizations, but such help has always been limited in scope. For example, when SCC’s Texas chapter held a fundraising drive to raise money to air a pro-campus carry television commercial (to combat the $80,000 anti-campus carry ad buy by Everytown for Gun Safety), the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) donated $1,500, and GOA donated $500. Those are the two largest cash donations SCC or any of its state chapters have ever received from an outside group.
A much more common type of outside help comes in the form of groups cosponsoring events with SCC or working with SCC to push legislation (e.g., SCC and the Second Amendment Foundation co-hosted two national conferences on campus carry; SCC, the NRA, and the Texas State Rifle Association frequently shared information when working to pass campus carry in Texas). Such cooperation among organizations with a shared goal is not unusual—it does not equate to an outside organization secretly directing or funding SCC and doesn’t amount to anything resembling the type of conspiracy claimed by SCC’s opponents.
In a February 29 op-ed published in Quartz (QZ.com), Lina del Castillo, assistant professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin, describes SCC as “the most visible, well-funded peddler of misleading information on pro-campus carry in the nation” (not surprisingly, the phrase “well-funded” links to the July 5 article from The Trace). If Ms. Del Castillo could see SCC’s financial statements or witness the sacrifices SCC’s leaders have made to keep the organization alive, she would be embarrassed for making that claim. Unlike Everytown for Gun Safety, SCC has no wealthy benefactor or rich donors footing the bill. SCC owes its existence to the small cash donations and huge time donations made by its members. The people who write SCC’s press releases and testify on behalf of SCC at Senate hearings and promote SCC on college campuses all do so without compensation, because they believe in and care about this cause.
Opponents’ claims about SCC’s founding and funding are untrue and unproductive. Those opponents would do well to remember that intellectually honest people can disagree on questions of policy without resorting to conspiracy theories or baseless conjecture to undermine their opponents’ views.
ABOUT STUDENTS FOR CONCEALED CARRY — Students for Concealed Carry (SCC) is a national, non-partisan, grassroots organization comprising college students, faculty, staff, and concerned citizens who believe that holders of state-issued concealed handgun licenses should be allowed the same measure of personal protection on college campuses that current laws afford them virtually everywhere else. SCC is not affiliated with or funded by the NRA or any other organization. SCC is a pioneer in the field of long-form press releases. For more information on SCC, visit ConcealedCampus.org or Facebook.com/ConcealedCampus. For more information on the debate over campus carry in Texas, visit WhyCampusCarry.com.
Excerpt from SCC’s Mission Statement (which hasn’t changed since the organization’s founding, when it was known as Students for Concealed Carry on Campus):
Both the membership and the leadership of SCCC are made up of individuals with very diverse political backgrounds. Among SCCC’s leaders you’ll find conservatives, moderates, liberals, Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Independents, etc. The members of SCCC look beyond partisanship, toward the common goal of achieving state laws and school policies based on factual evidence rather than emotional rhetoric.
Students for Concealed Carry on Campus is not affiliated with the NRA, a political party, or any other organization.