Three UT professors sue University, state over campus carry law

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Photo Credit: Rachel Zein | Daily Texan Staff

Three professors from the College of Liberal Arts have filed a suit against the University and the state of Texas on Wednesday in an effort to block SB 11, commonly known as campus carry, before it takes effect on August 1.

The professors — Mia Carter, Jennifer Lynn Glass, and Lisa Moore — said the law, which would allow people to carry concealed handguns on college campuses, would enforce “overly-solicitous, dangerously-experimental gun policies.”

According to the professors, their curriculums cover sensitive issues, such as abortion and gay rights, and they argue the law will hinder classroom discussions, a violation of the First Amendment, according to the lawsuit filed in an Austin U.S. district court.

“Robust academic debate in the classroom inevitably will be dampened to some degree by the fear that it could expose other students or themselves to gun violence,” the suit says.

Additionally, the suit says the state’s handgun regulation is too weak, rendering the campus carry law incompliant with clauses in the Second Amendment.

"The Second Amendment is not a one-way street," the suit says. "It starts with the proposition that a 'well-regulated militia,' is necessary to the security of a free state. The Supreme Court has explained that 'well-regulated' means 'imposition of proper discipline and training.'"

The professors also claim the law violates their 14th Amendment rights because the state has been too vague in its reasoning for why concealed handguns would be allowed in certain spaces and not others. Concealed weapons would not be allowed in faculty offices, residence hall bedrooms and animal research facilities, but would be allowed in classrooms.

“There is a constitutional right under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause not to be subjected to civil punishment based on laws and policies that are too vague to admit of consistent and coherent application,” the suit reads. “The state officials have a constitutional obligation to show that there is a rational basis for the dividing lines it has established for where concealed carry must be permitted and where it may be prohibited … This the state officials cannot do and, therefore, their rules violate the equal protection rights of Plaintiffs.”

Carter, Glass and Moore had previously added their names to an online petition started by the group Gun-Free UT, which has gathered hundreds of signatures from professors across various disciplines against campus carry.

Moore, an English professor, told The Daily Texan in May that “universities are a sacred place of learning” which “should not have to worry about how to manage a population that might be armed.”

In October, associate English professor Carter discussed the ramifications teachers face if they refuse to allow guns in their classrooms over email with the Texan. Due to SB 273, the wrongful exclusion of a concealed handgun license holder can result in a fine of up to $10,500.

“My ardent wish is that the administrators who lead Texas’s public universities will steadfastly defend the ideals of education.” Carter wrote in an email. “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?”

 

Carter, Glass, Moore vs. UT, Texas