MOORHEAD - Concordia College has denied an outspoken right-wing senior's request to form an NRA-affiliated student organization on campus because the college says the organization's mission conflicts with the school's institutional support for gun control.
"This is something we all saw coming. It wasn't a surprise by any means," said Liam Nuhring, 22, who submitted the application and plans to drop NRA from the name so the organization is more palatable for the private institution. "It's a controversial thing, that's for sure."
On Tuesday, April 25, the Office of Student Engagement responded to Nuhring's request after he spent the last six months preparing and corresponding with the college and NRA. He said there are about 50 students interested in joining the organization.
Student Engagement ultimately told Nuhring no and cited what the student handbook states about new student organizations not conflicting with the values or principles of Concordia and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
ELCA is in favor of gun control, the letter addressed to Nuhring states, and the church has a social policy resolution on community violence and gun control.
The resolution calls for the "passage and strict enforcement of local, state, and national legislation that rigidly controls manufacture, importation, exportation, sale, purchase, transfer, receipt, possession and transportation of handguns, assault weapons and assault-like weapons and their parts, excluding rifles and shotguns used for hunting and sporting purposes, for use other than law enforcement and military purposes."
"In contrast, the NRA strongly opposes such views regarding gun management," the letter states.
To that, Nuhring quipped, "I don't know why you would use a firearm other than for the purpose of hunting or sporting, or as a peace keeper or soldier."
The senior said he is "not pushing for concealed carry on campus," but instead firearm education.
"We don't want a firearms presence on campus," he said. But when asked how he felt about the NRA pushing for just that, Nuhring said he couldn't speak to the organization's agenda for guns on campuses across the country. He did, however, say there are some colleges with gun clubs.
He said he's been in direct contact with the NRA, but the organization is "reluctant to make a public statement on the matter."
Nuhring said his goal is to create a student-led gun club on campus partially funded by the NRA. He's not sure if he can accomplish that prior to graduation on May 9. There are underclassmen to carry the charge, he said.
"I would love to see the voices of many conservative students on campus represented," he said, adding that in a recent student government study it was found that 35 percent of the Concordia student body leans right.
Nuhring is a member of three other conservative organizations on campus. He is also involved in Conservatives Tackling Climate Change and chairman of the statewide coalition Minnesota College Republicans.
He's vocal about his beliefs on campus. He pens a column for The Concordian, called Freedom and Liberty, in which he's written about Donald Trump ‒ though he voted for Gary Johnson ‒ carbon tax, GMOs, abortion, former Breitbart senior editor and speaker Milo Yiannopoulos and health care.
Nuhring, despite being conservative, is active in the fight against climate change and claims that "environmentalism is not a partisan issue." He's a biology major and plans to attend law school after graduating from Concordia in a few weeks.
Before then, his next steps are to take the acronym NRA out of the organization's title, though he said that could mean less funding because the organization is gaining recognition in local news outlets and online. Several people have come forward with "blank checks," he said, and some lawyers have even offered to do pro bono work.
Nuhring plans to resubmit his application before next week.