The recent denial of 3 professors who sought a preliminary injunction against the allowance of concealed carry on University of Texas’ Austin campus continues the debate on gun policies in the United States. The professors were trying to stop the state’s new “campus carry” law, which permits licensed gun owners who are at least 21 years old to carry concealed weapons on public campuses, with some exceptions. The law, which does not deal with private institutions, prohibits public university professors from banning guns from their classrooms.
The professors argued that requiring them to teach students that could possibly be armed, hindered their First Amendment right to open discussions in the classroom. The professors would be too frightened to explore subjects or topics that might provoke an armed student in the heat of debate. The professors argue that they are being denied their First Amendment right to free speech out of fear of violence from armed students.
The Judge that denied the injunction focused on the lack of historical precedence, explaining that the professors have no basis to argue their perceived First Amendment violation. The Judge points out that there is no legal precedence of a right to academic freedom so broad that allows such autonomous control of their classrooms by the professors. Furthermore, the law in no way hinders their right to speak and teach freely.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was happy about the ruling, saying, “[t]here is simply no legal justification to deny licensed, law-abiding citizens on campus the same measure of personal protection they are entitled to elsewhere in Texas.”
This idea of personal protection has been the focal point of those groups advocating for the protection of the Second Amendment. The Institute for Legislative Action is the lobbying arm of the NRA (National Rifle Association), and is, “committed to preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.” Apparently, a “legitimate purpose” now includes protecting oneself while attending Sociology 101. A police officer’s duty to protect and to serve the community may have become slightly more dangerous, but as long as the Second Amendment is untouched and seemingly more expansive all is well.
Police officers already put their own lives at risk each and every time they put on their uniform and report for duty. Laws like this one in Texas to some degree make their jobs that much more risky and dangerous. It is interesting to think that although the current rhetoric is on making the job of police officers less dangerous, Texas feels the need to create more locations where police have to be on high alert for the possibility of guns being involved.