The professors who tried to make classroom policies may be punished.
It was pretty easy to predict there’d be some backlash over Texas’ new campus carry law. Now, University of Texas officials are warning professors they are not allowed to make classroom rules banning firearms.
“Faculty members are aware that state law provides that guns can be carried on campus, and that the president has not made a rule excluding them from classrooms,” Attorney General Ken Paxton wrote in a brief. “As a result, any individual professor who attempts to establish such a prohibition is subject to discipline,” Paxton wrote.
The new law allowing concealed carry on campus set off a firestorm of media coverage roughly a week ago. Paxton’s statement is specifically aimed at the University of Texas professors Mia Carter, Jennifer Glass and Lisa Moore.
The three went to federal court and have sued the state and the university in an attempt to block the law that went into effect eight days ago. At the heart of the argument is some confusion on who has final say on if professors are allowed to make classroom policies on firearms.
Things get muddy in the argument when the professors claimed there is nothing in the university’s firearms policies or the new state law to prohibit an individual professor from making a no firearms policy.
But Paxton says the university president has final say on what areas of the school are designated gun-free zones. Unless a president states the classrooms are gun-free, firearms are allowed there.
“The President is the sole individual authorized to establish gun exclusion zones on UT Austin’s campus,” attorneys from Paxton’s agency said in a statement. “He has not designated classrooms as gun exclusion zones.”
The professors also say things also aren’t clear about how they might be punished if they were to attempt to enact such a policy in their classroom. “No person of common intelligence – and one would think that of the tenured plaintiffs rise at least to that level – can figure out what governs them on this issue under Texas law and UT policies,” attorneys for the professors wrote.
They are hoping Judge Lee Yeakel will halt the law for at least one semester so a public trial on the matter can be held. According to the Dallas News, Yeakel is worried a slippery slope situation could be created by a block because it would open things up for other professors enact similar policies against firearms.
We certainly have not seen the last of this hot-button topic. Texas has certainly never been shy about making bold firearms laws, especially when concerning schools. Just earlier this month, a small school in the panhandle region of the state made some headlines when they posted signs warning of their concealed-carrying staff members.