Senate Bill 11 allows persons eligible under state law to “concealed carry” a handgun. Persons carrying a handgun must store the fire arm in a backpack or wear it so it’s outline is invisible.

As of Aug. 1, concealed campus carry is legal for persons deemed eligible by state law on all universities in the UT System. The specifics of Senate Bill 11, passed in May, 2015, permits those in possession of concealed handgun licenses to carry their handguns in all places not designated as “exclusionary zones,” or places where concealed carry is not allowed, as designated by each campus’ university president. The exclusionary zones and eligibility requirements are listed in the graphic above. S.B. 11 contains an amendment allowing for “very limited, reasonable prohibitions” on concealed campus carry specific to each campus culture.

The law has generated plenty of controversy. Groups like “Students for Concealed Carry” have called the enacted legislation a “gutted bill,” because of the amendments they feel violate the strict spirit of the law. In response, the group says they will fight harder in 2017 for a less watered down bill in the House, wishing that “the bill’s authors and sponsors would quit confusing the issue by claiming a victory for our side.”

In contrast, a lawsuit against the legislation is currently underway, filed on July 6, by three UT Austin professors.

The professors – Jennifer Lynn Glass, Lisa Moore and Mia Carter – have asked that a federal judge grant an injunction to block the law before the first day of classes. They cite the First, Second and 14th Amendments in their challenge. For them, as the suit states, the possibility of guns on campus could stifle class discussion, violating First Amendment rights.

In regards to the Second Amendment, the suit argues that the right to bear arms is a two way street. The professors’ interpretation rests on the fact that, in the past, the Supreme Court has upheld the Amendment’s purpose on the basis that a “well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free- state.” As the Court then explained, the phrase “well regulated” means “imposition of proper discipline and training.” It’s from this crucial point that the professors couch their legal challenge. The suit goes on to say that “If the state is to force them to admit guns into their classrooms, then the officials responsible for the compulsory policy must establish that there is a substantial reason the policy and that their regulation of the concealed carrying of handguns on college campuses is ‘well-regulated.’” The professors assert that current facts indicate that campuses cannot fulfill this obligation.

Additionally, they are raising 14th Amendment concerns about receiving “equal treatment under the law.”

On Aug. 8th, Texas Attorney General and the University of Texas asked the judge in the case, Lee Yeakel, to throw out the lawsuit.

A campus spokesperson issued the following statement: “‘Incidental impact’” on free speech does not violate the First Amendment. Even if the … policy had some incidental impact on Plaintiffs’ speech, that impact does not implicate any interest that the First Amendment protects.”

Barring an injunction before the first day of classes, the law will remain in effect, meaning that campus carry is in effect this fall. Signs are posted around UTSA’s campus that explain the university’s concealed carry policy and mark the exclusionary zones.

Though the law is in effect, some are still protesting. Jessica Jin, a former UT Student and originator of the #CocksNotGlocks hashtag, turned anti-campus carry group, is encouraging students in the UT System to carry dildos into their classes on the first day of the semester. Intended to be provocative and performative, Jin hopes that the presence of dildos will offer a visual representation of what it would look like if the gun lobby got what it wanted. As Jin told the Texas Observer recently, the dildos are a metaphor for “the complete normalization of gun culture.” Her rationale for this act makes use of juxtaposition. She says “if dildos make you uncomfortable in class, ask yourself why guns don’t.”

That’s one way students are asking if campus carry is good idea. Professors are suing. “Students for Campus Carry” are seeking lessened regulation in the next legislative session. In all this calamity, the Paisano wants to remind people of the eligibility rules surrounding campus carry and provide a list of President Romo’s exclusionary zones. The information is also available digitally on the UTSA website.

 

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