Judge denies three professors’ lawsuit to block campus carry days before classes begin

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In this file photo, Judy Jensen, right, holds up a sign pressing for gun control regulation during a Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense rally at Austin City Hall on September 10, 2015.

Photo Credit: Thalia Juarez | Daily Texan Staff

An attempt to block recent campus carry policies from taking effect was denied by a federal judge Monday, two days before students begin classes for the fall semester.

In July, three UT professors sued the University in an attempt to overturn recent campus carry policies, which went into effect Aug. 1,  allowing the carry of concealed handguns in select classrooms and areas around campus.

The professors — Mia Carter, Jennifer Lynn Glass and Lisa Moore — sued in hopes of blocking the law’s implementation before classes begin Wednesday. Their lawsuit states that the current campus carry policies fail to afford the professors their right to equal protection because the policies require them to permit concealed carry in their classrooms.

In Monday’s decision, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled that the plaintiffs failed to establish a likelihood of success on their equal protection claim under the Fourteenth Amendment.

Renea Hicks, a lawyer in the lawsuit representing the plaintiffs, was disappointed with the decision.

“Public policies sometimes are so extreme and carry such a huge potential for harm that it takes the law and courts by surprise amps they grapple with it,” Hicks said. “We'll be evaluating what our next steps need to be and hope things go well on campus and in the classrooms in the meantime.

The professors argued academic debate in the classroom could be hindered due to the fear of gun violence, according to the lawsuit.

Attorney General Ken Paxton, who represented the state in the lawsuit, has stated in the past that he will protect the rights of gun owners.

“I am pleased, but not surprised, that the Court denied the request to block Texas’ campus carry law,” Paxton said in a press release. “The right to keep and bear arms is guaranteed for all Americans, including college students, and I will always stand ready to protect that right.”