After radical open carry law went into effect the first week of August that allowed anyone to bring guns into university classrooms, academic officials have repeatedly protested the law as dangerous and foolish. Now, three University of Texas professors are going before a judge to obtain the authority to ban guns legally from their classrooms.
The professors argue that academic freedom will be threatened under the so-called campus carry law, which was backed by the state’s Republican majority. The law allows concealed handgun license holders age 21 and over to bring their firearms into classrooms as well as other university facilities.
They don’t fear, they know that the presence of guns in their classrooms… would squelch (academic) discussions,” Renea Hicks, a lawyer for the professors told U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel.
The lawsuit seeks a preliminary injunction that will halt implementation of the new law. Professors Lisa Moore, Jennifer Lynn Glass, and Mia Carter are the three plaintiffs named in the suit.
Ann Macklin, an attorney for the University, argued before the judge that if the professors banned guns in their classrooms, they would be in violation of state law, and could face disciplinary action up to termination.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican and co-defendant in the suit, filed paperwork to halt the injunction describing the professors’ suit as a “frivolous lawsuit.”
There is no legal justification to deny licensed, law-abiding citizens on campus the same measure of personal protection they are entitled to elsewhere in Texas,” Paxton said in a statement this week.
Central in the professors’ suit is the argument that subjects like reproductive rights, and other emotionally volatile topics could lead to potential incidents of gun violence.
The law officially took effect on the first day of August just as the University of Texas held a ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of one of the most deadly mass shootings in U.S. history.
On August 1, 1966, a student named Charles Whitman killed 16 people during his bloody rampage from the top of the university’s clock tower using a high-powered rifle.
Before the law’s passage, university professors lobbied unsuccessfully to block the campus carry law. They argued that a combination of youth, guns, and college life was a tragedy waiting to happen. Sadly, Republicans rammed it through anyway.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, so far eight states allow concealed carry on post-secondary campuses.
This law is a disaster in the making. It will take just one student who’s under personal and/or academic pressure to have one bad day. No wonder the men and women who work there are terrified.
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