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Kansas professor put on leave after tweet blaming NRA for DC shooting

September 21, 2013|By Matt Hamilton
  • David Guth, shown in a photo provided by the University of Kansas, was placed on indefinite administrative leave Friday by university officials.
David Guth, shown in a photo provided by the University of Kansas, was placed… (Chuck France / AP )

A Kansas professor was put on administrative leave Friday after a tweet he sent earlier in the week that blamed the Navy Yard shooting on the National Rifle Assn.

Announcing her decision to put University of Kansas journalism professor David Guth on indefinite leave, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said in a statement that she sought “to prevent disruptions to the learning environment for students.”

The controversy over the longtime professor's tweet began Monday after news broke on the Navy Yard shooting in Washington, D.C., that left 13 dead, including the gunman, Aaron Alexis.

Guth, a native of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, wrote on Twitter that “the blood is on the hands of the #NRA.”

“Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters. Shame on you. May God damn you,” Guth wrote.

The president of the Kansas State Rifle Assn., Patricia Stoneking, called Guth’s tweet “outrageous” and called for the university to fire him.

Condemnations by university officials were no less forceful. Timothy C. Caboni, vice chancellor for public affairs, called Guth’s tweet “repugnant,” while the dean of the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Ann Brill, vowed that the school does not advocate violence against any group.

Guth, who has taught journalism at the university since 1991, took to his personal blog and remained unapologetic, declaring that "the time has passed for niceties and tact." 

"There are two sides to this debate: The side of angels and the NRA," Guth wrote. "Where do you stand?"

Guth has appeared to change his tone in the last few days.

In a statement released to The Times, Guth said he "agreed" to the paid administrative leave after being flooded with “abusive email threats.”

“It is in it the best interests and peace of mind of our students that I remove myself from the situation and let cooler heads prevail,” Guth said, echoing university administrators.

Guth’s Twitter page was deactivated Friday afternoon. He did, however, reply to a self-identified NRA member who requested to attend one of his classes for a debate.

“I appreciate your interest,” Guth said before declining the offer. “Free speech is for everyone.”

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Twitter: @MattHjourno

matt.hamilton@latimes.com

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