Attorney comments on professors' campus carry lawsuit

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Photo Credit: Thalia Juarez | Daily Texan Staff

Professors Mia Carter, Jennifer Lynn Glass and Lisa Moore said the campus carry law, passed in 2015 and set to go into effect Aug. 1, would restrict the freedom of their classroom discussions and is too vague to be applied on such a large scale. 

Max Renea Hicks, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs and a UT law graduate who helped draft the lawsuit, said the case seemed like a worthy cause and a worthy legal argument. 

“Personally, it seems obvious to me that forcing professors to allow guns in their classrooms seems like a fairly bad public policy,” Hicks said. “Lawyers are there to deal with what the laws say and I think there is evidence this public policy is inconsistent with the constitution.”

Hicks said what he believes is most important in this case is the unique position of the plaintiffs. 

“Lawyers don’t matter, lawyers are just vehicles,” Hicks said. “The people that matter are the professors and the students they want to protect.” 

Law professor Lucas Powe said he opposes the law, but not for the reasons the plaintiffs do. 

“If I was a 30-year-old on the job market and had a choice between [UT] and something else, I would choose the something else,” Powe said. “I think it’s going to hurt recruitment.”

Powe said their First Amendment argument about the law restricting the ability of students to speak freely is interesting, but the second and 14th Amendment challenges are wrong.

“The legislature doesn’t have to state any reason for a law,” Powe said. “I think the campus carry law is one of the idiot ideas an idiot legislature comes up with, but they have the right to do it.” 

Jordan Cope, international relations and global studies junior, said people may be less inclined to carry out a mass shooting if they know other students would be ready to retaliate. 

Because UT is a public university, Cope said it is subject to all government laws. 

“I don’t think there should be a legal exception to a public law,” Cope said. “You cannot just neglect state law.” 

Cope said the claim in the suit that the existence of guns restricts free speech is false. 

“We all know people have guns in Texas, and people still speak freely,” Cope said. “It is a bit of an exaggeration that we can’t speak about certain topics in class because someone may have a gun.”

Antonia Okafor, southwest regional director for Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, said in a press release that the suit’s claim that campus carry is “dangerously experimental” is “laughable.”

“Licensed concealed carry has been allowed throughout most of Texas for more than twenty years, with no indication that it has led to an increase in violent crime or gun accidents,” Okafor said. 

Classics graduate student Tiffany Montgomery said the vast majority of Americans support common sense gun regulations, but the government hasn’t taken action. A CNN/ORC poll from June said 55 percent of respondents were in favor of stricter gun laws. 

“The best solution for the immediate future is for our politicians to act like adults, lose the ego, and for once, put the American citizens first in this matter,” Montgomery said.