Judge Warns Professors Against Banning Guns in Classrooms

Campus Carry
Professors and students from the University of Texas stood outside the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas on Thursday. photo from dallasnews.com.web photo

Three professors at the University of Texas who are pushing to ban guns from their classrooms were told this week they will be punished if they do, according to the latest opinion of the court prompted by the state’s new campus carry law, which went into effect August 1.

"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," attorneys representing the University of Texas at Austin and Attorney General Ken Paxton wrote in a legal brief filed Monday, the story says. "As a result, any individual professor who attempts to establish such prohibition is subject to discipline."

The story says the warning was meant as a message to UT professors Mia Carter, Jennifer Glass, and Lisa Moore, who sued the university and state in federal court last month to temporarily block the implementation of campus carry.

"The state's lawyers, in their Monday filing, asked Judge Lee Yeakel to throw out the professors' lawsuit," the story says. "The teachers responded with a brief of their own, calling again for Yeakel to halt the law for one semester so they can hold a public hearing on whether campus carry violates their constitutional rights to free speech and equal protection."

According to the lawyers representing the professors, the university’s campus carry rules are too vague and that their clients can’t know how they might be punished if they tried to keep gun owners out of their classrooms. They go on to say that there is nothing in state law or UT policy that explicitly forbids professors from banning guns in classrooms.

The state’s brief indicates that the law is clear.

From the story: "It gives campus presidents the ability to designate each school's limited 'gun-free zones,' they say, and if classrooms are not expressly included in campus policy as off-limits to firearms, then guns must be allowed there."

“The president is the sole individual authorized to establish gun exclusion zones on UT Austin’s campus. He has not designated classrooms as gun exclusion zones,” the attorneys wrote.

Yeakel could decide by the end of the week to grant the professors' request to temporarily block the law, but he acknowledged doing so would allow other professors at every other public university in Texas an excuse to ban guns in their classrooms, the story says.