A Marshall County High School teacher is speaking out against a Republican political rally in the region this summer featuring National Rifle Association President Oliver North.
The Marshall County and Calloway County Republican Parties are jointly hosting the event on August 3 at Murray State University.
Chris Kerrick has taught Government at Marshall County High School for nearly 20 years. He was at the school on January 23 when a shooter killed two students and injured 14 others.
Kerrick posted a letter on the local GOP party’s Facebook page requesting the event be canceled. He also posted the letter on his personal page.
In the letter, Kerrick said inviting North is "cold and callous" and fuels divisions in the community. He said he is pro second amendment, but feels inviting North seems "flippant" in the wake of the recent shooting.
"It’s just poor timing. It’s just something that digs up hard feelings for me and possibly others, I can’t speak for anyone else," Kerrick said. "It just really hurt, because the community has been wonderful."
Marshall County GOP Chair Danny Holt deleted the Facebook posts and said Kerrick’s statements are untrue.
"That Facebook page is for disseminating information to our Republicans here and not for his slamming of Republicans, the NRA, or Oliver North," Holt said. "I would do the same to anyone else."
Holt said his group booked North before learning of his NRA appointment.
"When this began, it was never about the NRA, period," he said. "It was about Oliver North. He’s trying to make it an NRA situation."
The Marshall County Republican Party website lists on the page promoting the event a brief description of North’s accomplishments, including "Current President of the National Rifle Association."
Holt said insensitivity was never his group’s intent and considered that some might not like North’s appearance.
Kerrick said he was apprehensive to voice his opinion and has received pushback on social media. But, he said his own advice to students pushed him to speak out.
"I always teach my students that if you believe in something you have to stand up for it. There will always be a backlash," Kerrick said. "My own words came back to haunt me, I knew if I didn’t speak up and say something, who am I to tell the kids that you got to stand up for certain things you know are right."
Kerrick said he feels that he is right in his argument opposing the invitation of North. Holt disagreed, and said Kerrick is trying to make "political hay" out of it.
"Our party has not made any political statements about the shooting whatsoever," Holt said. "This is not a political statement, but Mr. Kerrick wants to make it political."
Kerrick said in his letter that his request was not about taking guns away, but about "respect and empathy for all those affected by January 23rd" and "not inviting an organization that has never worked to be part of the solution."
Both Kerrick and Holt agreed to meet to discuss a compromise on this issue, but the meeting failed to coalesce due to a difference of opinion.
Holt said he doesn’t plan on canceling the event unless North says he can’t make it.
Kerrick said, moving forward, he wants to do "something positive" in reaction to the event. He said he is considering planning a "fundraising type of event" that is non-political.
"Pro-gun, anti-gun, that’s why we’re in the situation we’re in, there’s no compromise," Kerrick said. "That’s what really needs to happen, from both sides, in all areas we’re in right now concerning politics."