Teachers often have to deal with students frustrated about grades, and with the passing of SB 11, the possibility for violent action becomes much more likely. Furthermore, the healthy dialogue and scholastic exploration professors encourage is endangered by guns in classrooms. Why would a professor want to engage students in heated discussion when one of them is armed?
Over 600 UT professors have expressed their outrage over campus carry, with some going so far as to resign.
Faculty members can face exorbitant fines if they show any resistance to the implementation of campus carry, according to associate English professor Mia Carter.
“Some of the faculty members have signed a petition declaring that we refuse to allow guns in our classrooms. We are anticipating aggressive pushback that will come to any faculty person who engages in an act of civil disobedience in response to SB 11,” Carter said in an email. “The law states that individual fines up to 10K can be levied against the defiant individual. The passing of SB 11 was a victory for the NRA and gun lobby, primarily; it only further disseminates the belief that we should live in fear, should live in fear of each other, that danger is omnipresent and that our fears legitimize the presence of guns absolutely everywhere in U.S. society.”
According to SB 273, the “wrongful” exclusion of a CHL holder can result in a $10,500 fine upon second violation. A UT professor cannot afford to pay such an exorbitant fine on a public salary resulting from their opposition to the threat of a firearm in the classroom. These outlandish penalties intimidate professors into compliance with campus carry.
“My ardent wish is that the administrators who lead Texas’s public universities will steadfastly defend the ideals of education.” Carter wrote. “Every classroom, every advising office, every counseling space should be a gun-free zone. Our elected officials should be made to address the abundant research that is already available to them and urge them state their rationale to the citizens of Texas and the world: why MUST we have guns in our classroom?”
Both sides of the political spectrum can see that this fine is outrageous. Neuroscience sophomore Johnnie McElroy said even though she agrees with Campus Carry legislation, she feels that the $10,500 fine is too much.
“I don’t think they should be fined,” McElroy said. “But I feel like if the student has a concealed handgun license, they should be able to take it wherever they want. I don’t think they should be kicked out of the class, but $10,000 is pretty extreme.”
There seems to be no logical reasoning behind the impetus surrounding the “need” for guns in the classroom. None of the available research regarding gun safety explains any correlation between the arming of the masses and increase in safety. In fact, there is a wealth of research that would suggest otherwise. Perhaps most unsettling is that politicians backed by the NRA have blocked funding for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) collection of statistics regarding gun incidents in this country.
Not only does campus carry have disastrous physical potential for students and teachers, it also serves to financially paralyze faculty into compliance. It is utterly absurd that professors can be fined $10,500 for resisting the presence of firearms in the classroom. With all this taken into account, by what rationale are we fooling ourselves into thinking campus carry is a good idea?
Hutson is a history senior from El Paso. Follow him on Twitter @MemoHutson.