Singer-songwriter Ray LaMontagne canceled his Thursday show at Bass Concert Hall, citing campus carry as one of his concerns.
“I realize this is a controversial issue and there are strong feelings on both sides of it,” LaMontagne said in a post on Facebook. “But no matter how hard I try to understand the rationale for allowing guns on campus or more broadly, the ‘concealed carry’ law in general, I just cannot in any way support that ideology. There are a lot of things this country needs more of, but guns aren’t one of them.”
LaMontagne also said he had tried to petition for a special exemption from concealed handguns the day of the concert but was denied over the weekend by President Fenves’ office.
Those who purchased tickets will be refunded and the show has not been rescheduled.
The University issued a statement after LaMontagne announced his cancellation, saying they respected his right to cancel.
“The university regrets that Ray LaMontagne made this decision but respects his right to do so,” said J.B. Bird, director of media relations. “Under Texas state law, licensed permit holders are allowed to bring concealed handguns into many performance venues on public university campuses, including the Performing Arts Center at The University of Texas at Austin.”
LaMontagne currently has one show in Houston and one in Dallas planned for this week. Concealed carry has been allowed in Texas since 1996.
Brian Bensimon, Students for Concealed Carry director for the state of Texas, said in a press release, “It’s likely that Mr. LaMontagne has performed at numerous venues that allow concealed carry, without even realizing it. The cancellation of this concert has less to do with the uniqueness of UT-Austin’s firearms policy than with political grandstanding and the self-fulfilling nature of activists’ predictions that campus carry will have an adverse effect on campus life.”
Campus carry has been a controversial topic on campus since it was introduced in the last legislative session. Some campus organizations such as University Democrats have been open in voicing their disapproval of the law.
“I believe that this is a clear example of how uncomfortable campus carry makes people,” Joseph Trahan, public relations junior and University Democrats communications director, said. “The infatuation with guns that overwhelms certain Texans doesn’t match up to the nationwide concern for comprehensive gun law reform. I wouldn’t be surprised if UT loses out on potential speakers and musicians in the coming years over the same concerns Ray LaMontagne has.”