Several dozen gun rights advocates with handguns in holsters and rifles in slings walked in a line Friday afternoon outside the Kent State University Student Center.

Some students stopped to talk, while others simply looked and continued on their way.

Organizers said the goal of the Kent State University Open Carry/Firearms Liberty Outreach was to foster discussions about gun rights and the Second Amendment.

Aaron Spalding, one of the demonstrators on campus Friday, called himself a strong advocate for gun rights.

“Guns are personal protection,” said Spalding, who was carrying a rifle in a sling during the demonstration. “I would rather have it than not need it.”

However, the government needs to do a better job, said Spalding, a 34-year-old University of Louisville student who came to Kent State for the demonstration.

“I’m fine with background checks,” Spalding said. “However, I would like to see better reporting from government agencies.”

Like Spalding, most of the demonstrators were openly carrying their weapons in holsters or slings.

Kent State has a policy barring students, staff and faculty from carrying guns on campus, but others were permitted under state law to carry their weapons.

Some people, however, showed up to speak out for stricter gun control laws.

Greg Fisher, a retired Kent resident, arrived outside the Student Center in an Uncle Sam outfit.

“I don’t like guns,” he said.

Fisher referenced the shooting that left four people dead earlier this week at a Waffle House restaurant in Nashville, as well as the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17.

“We need to get rid of the guns,” Fisher said. “If we get rid of them, it will get rid of the killings.”

Kent State spokesman Eric Mansfield said the event was peaceful.

“People were able to exchange view civilly and shake hands at the end,” he said.

One student at Friday’s demonstration wore a Mario costume and held up signs that said “Plumber Lives Matter.”

The event was organized by Kent State senior Kaitlin Bennett, a gun rights supporter who said the gun reform debate often represents only one side of the argument.

She invited longtime gun rights advocate and firearms instructor Jeffry Smith from Cincinnati to the event.

Brandon Bounds can be reached at 330-996-3762 or bbounds@thebeaconjournal.com.