A handful of professors at the University of Texas have made it their mission to block students from carrying concealed handguns in college classrooms. Last year, the Texas Legislature passed a law allowing individuals over the age of 21 to carry firearms inside classrooms and other facilities on public universities as long as they have a concealed handgun license.
The law went into effect Monday, making Texas one of eight states that allow concealed carry on campus and inside buildings. Gun rights advocates argue the law is a Constitutional right that could help prevent mass shootings on college campuses.
Gun Free UT, a group consisting mostly of professors but also includes students, faculty and parents, have demanded that guns be banned from classrooms or else they would sue – a threat they made good on last month.
Three UT professors filed a lawsuit on July 6 seeking to overturn the law, claiming it’s unconstitutional and subjects colleges to “dangerously-experimental gun policies.”
“Compelling professors at a public university to allow, without any limitation or restriction, students to carry concealed guns in their classrooms chills their First Amendment rights to academic freedom,” states their lawsuit.
Behind the suit is sociology professor Jennifer Lynn Glass, creative writing professor Lisa Moore and English professor Mia Carter, all of whom argue guns in classrooms could be dangerous when having politically charged discussions on topics such as abortion or gay rights.
“The forced presence of handguns will inevitably dampen classroom debate, discussion, and intellectual exploration by the undifferentiated intimidation unavoidably imposed by the close presence of hidden, loaded guns,” the suit states.
A preliminary injunction hearing was scheduled for Thursday by U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel, a little more than two weeks before classes are set to begin.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton recently described the lawsuit as “frivolous” while adding that it should be dismissed. “I’m confident it will be dismissed because the Legislature passed a constitutionally sound law,” he said.
“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.”