Federal Judge Says Texas Profs Must Allow Guns In Their Classrooms

A new law allows concealed weapons on campus.

Professor Ann Cvetkovich waits to speak during a public forum on Texas's campus-carry law.AP Photo/Eric Gay

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


Yesterday morning, a federal judge denied a request by three University of Texas-Austin professors who wanted to ban firearms in their classrooms despite a recently passed law authorizing concealed firearms on public college campuses.

The ruling came down just two days before classes are scheduled to start at UT campuses. US District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled that the lawsuit filed by professors Lisa Moore, Mia Carter, and Jennifer Lynn Glass is likely to fail and found that their request for a preliminary injunction was “an extraordinary remedy.” 

“It appears to the court that neither the Texas Legislature nor the Board of Regents has overstepped its legitimate power to determine where a licensed individual may carry a concealed handgun in an academic setting,” the judge wrote.

The lawsuit, which claims the new campus-carry law forces state schools to impose “overly-solicitous, dangerously-experimental gun policies,” will continue to move through Yeakel’s court. The professors’ attorney told The Dallas Morning News that their legal team would “begin to pull together the evidence and facts for the trial and hope things go smoothly on campus in the meantime.” The plaintiffs are arguing that the law violates their First Amendment right to academic freedom because their classroom management could be influenced by fear of violent student retaliation.

The campus-carry law went into effect earlier this month on the anniversary of the 1966 clock tower massacre at the University of Texas-Austin.

The campus-carry law went into effect earlier this month on the anniversary of the 1966 clock tower massacre at the University of Texas-Austin. It makes it legal to carry concealed firearms at public universities, including in dorms and classrooms. The legislation allows private universities to opt out; all but one have done so. UT administrators have expressed wariness at the idea of guns on campus in the past. Last year, a UT-sponsored working group published a report that wrestled with ways to reconcile the law with campus safety. “Every member of the Working Group—including those who are gun owners and license holders—thinks it would be best if guns were not allowed in classrooms,” it concluded.

The Texas attorney general’s office has been largely unsympathetic to complaints about the new law. Earlier this month, Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a motion to dismiss the professors’ suit, warning the three plaintiffs that they could face disciplinary measures if they interfere with the campus-carry law. Paxton has also said a ban on firearms in dormitories would be a violation of the law.

“I am pleased, but not surprised, that the Court denied the request to block Texas’ campus carry law,” Paxton said in a 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.”

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate