AUSTIN, TEXAS – In the two years since the Students for Concealed Carry (SCC) board of directors dismissed former Southwest Regional Director Antonia Okafor, SCC leaders past and present have held their tongues as, time and time again, she has repeated the false claim that she was involved in the drafting and passing of Texas’ campus carry law.
By portraying herself as the person who passed campus carry in Texas, Okafor—who joined SCC six weeks after Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 11 into law and who served as an SCC leader for fourteen months of the eighteen-month interim between the 2015 and 2017 Texas Legislative Sessions—has secured invitations to appear on high-profile TV news programs (both in the U.S. and abroad), speak on college campuses, and be honored as the invited guest of far-right politicians and organizations.
If members of the gun-rights community want to honor Okafor as a pillar of Second Amendment activism, that is a subjectively defensible choice. However, it is objectively indefensible to suggest that she played any role (beyond, perhaps, being one of thousands of concerned Texas college students who reached out to Texas lawmakers) in the passage of Texas’ campus carry law.
Students for Concealed Carry, the National Rifle Association, and the Texas State Rifle Association spent eight years fighting for the passage of campus carry in Texas. In the latter years of that fight, SCC, NRA, and TSRA were joined by groups such as the Open Carry Texas, Texas Carry, Texas Firearms Freedom, and the Texas Concealed Handgun Association.
Madison Welch served as SCC’s Southwest regional director during the 2015 Texas Legislative Session (the session in which campus carry finally passed). Prior to that, the position was held by Adrienne O’Reilly, who succeeded Daniel Crocker, who succeeded Brett Poulos, who succeeded Mike Guzman, SCC’s original SWRD. These are the people who deserve the credit for leading SCC’s efforts to pass campus carry in Texas.
At no time during the eight-year fight to pass campus carry in Texas did Antonia Okafor hold a leadership position with SCC or any other organization instrumental in that fight. The first time she so much as tweeted about campus carry or SB 11 was two weeks before the end of the 2015 Texas Legislative Session.
In March 2017, six months after Okafor was dismissed from SCC, SCC Assistant Director of Public Relations Mike Newbern reached out to her to politely ask that she stop making false claims about her involvement in the passage of SB 11. Okafor responded by blocking Newbern and several other current and former SCC leaders from viewing her social media pages.
In February 2018, a former SCC director detailed many of Okafor’s misstatements of fact (ranging from misstatements about her involvement with SCC to misstatements about her education) in a lengthy internal memo/essay titled “Who Is Antonia Okafor?” That memo/essay can be downloaded here.
When the board made the decision to let Antonia go, none of us harbored any ill will toward her. We simply felt we needed a regional director who, like Antonia’s predecessors in that role, better understood the issue. We even offered her a less-demanding role within the organization, an offer she declined.
It’s easy enough to look at the press releases, op-eds, and TV commercial SCC released during the 2015 Texas Legislative Session and see that Antonia was not the organization’s Southwest regional director at that time. It’s easy enough to look at her social media accounts and see that she wasn’t even talking about campus carry until two weeks before it passed.
For the past two years, we at SCC have hoped that somebody in the media would take the time to question Antonia’s story. It is a disservice to the countless organizations and volunteers involved in the passage of campus carry in Texas to let her false claims go unchallenged, and it has become apparent that nobody is going to question those false claims unless we call attention to them. So let me state unequivocally and for the record that Antonia Okafor played no role—at least no more so than thousands of other college students—in the passage of Texas’ campus carry law.
I’ve been with this organization for years. I’ve seen this group defeat a campus carry ban in Colorado and advocate for the successful passage of campus carry laws in over half a dozen states. The real hero of campus carry in Texas never publicly took credit and has quietly moved on to other endeavors, out of the spotlight of activism, including motherhood.”
Texas Tribune: Federal appeals court upholds Texas campus carry law.