Court upholds 'Campus Carry'

Professors' injunction denied for being baseless

When students with a state-issued license to carry return to Texas public college campuses this fall they will be allowed to carry a concealed personal firearm, except in areas specifically prohibited by law.

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel found Monday the grounds to be unfounded for three University of Texas professors' injunction against implementation of Texas Senate Bill 11, allowing for "campus carry."

The bill was authored more than a year ago by Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, and signed June 13, 2015, by Gov. Greg Abbott. It became law Aug. 16, 2016. It does not allow for open carry, and present state law restricts a license to carry to those at least age 21.

"It appears to the court that neither the Texas Legislature nor the [University of Texas] Board of Regents has overstepped its legitimate power to determine where a licensed individual may carry a concealed handgun in an academic setting," Yeakel wrote in his court order denying the injunction.

Birdwell's office did not immediately respond to a Burleson Star request for comment.

University of Texas professors Jennifer L. Glass, Lisa Moore and Mia Carter had filed for an injunction against implementation of the law using the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but Yeakel found the law not to be unconstitutionally vague.

The professors also claimed the law infringed on their 1st Amendment right of academic freedom. But the law does not forbid professors from the right to speak and teach freely, Yeakel found.

"The court has searched the jurisprudence of this country from the ratification of the Constitution forward and has found no precedent for plaintiffs' proposition that there is a right of academic freedom so broad that it allows them such autonomous control of their classrooms, both physically and academically, that their concerns override decisions of the legislature and the governing body of the institution that employs them," Yeakel wrote.

The professors' claim the law violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment was also denied.

“I am pleased, but not surprised, that the court denied the request to block Texas’ campus carry law," Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton wrote in an email statement. "There is simply no legal justification to deny licensed, law-abiding citizens on campus the same measure of personal protection they are entitled to elsewhere in Texas. 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.”

The University of Texas had forecasted that 1 percent of students would apply for and be granted a state-issued license to carry. Both the University of Texas and Texas A&M University, in addition to other public colleges, have information posted on their websites specific to campus carry. The University of Texas has 25 policy statements listed related to campus carry.

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