The right to carry firearms remains a controversial issue in Texas, nowhere less so than at the University of Texas. In Austin, the state’s new campus carry law has sparked a lawsuit from three professors.
Details of the lawsuit are contained in an Inside Higher Ed report. The academics at the university in Austin are alarmed about the law that went into effect on Aug. 1. It allows licensed, concealed weapons on campus.
The professors say they want the right to ban firearms from their classrooms. They fear an upsurge in gun offenses on campus.
The academics are suing the University of Texas over its stance on the state’s campus carry law which allows concealed firearms at the academic institution.
The professors say state law and university policy is vague over the issue of guns in the classroom.
On its website the University of Texas says from Aug. 1 license holders will “generally be allowed to carry concealed handguns” at the Austin university and at other public universities in the state. There is no specific information on the website relating to the right to carry guns in classrooms.
Universities Have Some Discretion over Campus Carry
The “campus carry” law was signed last year by Governor Greg Abbott. UT says on its website that the law gives public universities some discretion over the regulation of campus carry. The university may enact “reasonable rules” over storage and the carrying of guns but it cannot prohibit licensed gun holders from carrying firearms on the campus.
While the intent of this law is clear there seem to be a lot of gray areas that could potentially land people who carry firearms on campus in trouble. Texas has had an open carry law since the start of the year but weapons would have to be concealed on campus. In an earlier blog, we wrote about some of the problems from the open carry law in Texas. A failure of law enforcement officers to adhere to the letter of the law or indeed gray areas in the law itself could land you in jail.
The University of Texas has maintained banning guns from classrooms would mean it was failing to comply with the new law.
To further complicate the picture, the law won’t come into effect at community colleges until 2017.
The campus carry law allows private universities in Texas to opt out of it entirely and many have done so.
The lawsuit claims handgun regulation contains “gaping loopholes” in Texas. The professors say they have been intimidated by students in the past.