Three University of Texas at Austin professors sued the state over a new law that lets people carry concealed handguns on campus, according to The Texas Tribune
"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," the lawsuit says, according to the Tribune.
The law, passed in 2015, would take effect Aug. 1, exactly 50 years after Charles Whitman shot and killed 14 people from the school's tower in what was then the deadliest campus shooting in U.S. history.
"We are armed with reason. We are armed with data. We are armed with passion. We are armed with longevity," Professor Lisa Moore said during a November protest against the law, according to The Dallas Morning News
"And we will make this change."
"In a cruel irony, the Texas Legislature has mandated that 50 years to the day after one of the worst gun-related massacres ever on a college campus . . . UT-Austin must begin allowing the concealed carrying of handguns on campus and in classrooms," the lawsuit asserts, according to the Morning News.
"Worried about much more than cruel irony, the three plaintiff professors seek to at least retain the option of maintaining their academic classrooms as gun-free zones."
The professors' goal is for the court to block any law that would forbid them from banning guns inside their classrooms, or punish them for doing so. UT-Austin President Gregory L. Fenves announced in February that faculty members and staff could ban guns from their offices, but not from classrooms, as that would violate the law, reports Austin's Statesman
Fenves opposed the law, saying handguns have no place on campuses, the Tribune reported.
Speaking on behalf of Students for Concealed Carry, a group that supports the law, southwest regional director Antonia Okafor defended campus carry, which is allowed on over 100 college campuses nationwide.
"To put it in terms these professors should understand, the clinical trials are over, and campus carry has been shown to pose little risk to public safety," she told the Tribune.
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