Taylor Woolrich is a student at Ivy-League powerhouse, Dartmouth College, and has a great future in front of her.
Her problem, though, is that she is not safe. She’s a stalking victim, who has been terrorized for the past four years by a 67-year-old man named Richard Bennett.
She feels she has both the right and great reason to carry a firearm while at Dartmouth for her protection, but Dartmouth cites that its policy prohibits any firearms on campus: It’s a gun-free zone.
“Whenever I asked them to obtain authorization on campus to carry a concealed weapon, they told me ‘No way,’” she said. “No appeals process.”
The story is agitating many civil liberties and Second Amendment rights advocates, who have consistently argued that American’s have the constitutional right to carry a firearm for protection. For Woolrich, it’s not about civil liberties or constitutional rights: She simply fears for her life.
She told TODAY, “My intention was not to join the political debate on gun control, but to speak out about my situation in hopes of bringing awareness to the distressing challenges faced by victims of stalking.”
Her fears are well founded. Her stalker has escalated his actions over the last four years.
Woolrich was first stalked by Bennett where she worked in a coffee shop. He visited the coffee shop many times a day while trying to flirt with her. He followed her regularly when she came to work or left work.
An emergency restraining order was issued in 2011, but that didn’t stop Bennett. He stalked her on social media for two years while she was at Dartmouth and sent messages stating he was going to take a trip to see her at school.
On one occasion, when Woolrich returned home to visit her parents in San Diego, she found Bennett pounding on their front door at 8:30 in the morning. She had only arrived in the wee hours the night before, suggesting Bennett had knowledge of her travels. The family immediately called 911.
“When he was arrested by police, they found what they like to call a rape kit in the back of his car. It consisted of a maps of the area, duct tape, a rope tied into a slip noose, hunting knives and various other items,” Woolrich said.
Woolrich fears for her life, and rightly so. Even though it is likely Bennett will be sentenced to prison, Woolrich still feels unsafe and checks the jail’s website daily to make sure he has not been let out on bail.
Woolrich told Fox News that the Dartmouth Department of Safety said that instead of carrying a firearm, she could call campus security when she felt unsafe. She did. Often. And they complained about the frequency of her calls.
“What they don’t understand is that it’s not enough,” Woolrich said. “Unless they have an armed guard in front of my dorm room, I’m not sure how safe I will be. I don’t think there’s much an unarmed guard can do.”
Woolrich shared her story at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., for the Students for Concealed Carry’s national conference. The video can be seen below or through this link. Related efforts to get-out-the-vote are popping up around the country.
The questions remain: Are Woolrich’s civil liberties and Second Amendment rights being stripped while she is a student on campus? Who, if not Woolrich, should have the right to protect themselves from a known stalker who has demonstrated his desire to rape, and or kill her?
And, while Dartmouth has a policy of no firearms on campus, it’s safe to say that a criminal stalker won’t be paying attention to that rule, which means some students are at real risk of harm.
Will Woolrich be granted a special request given her very real safety concern? We shall see, as the debate about self-protection, civil rights and safety goes on.
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