Three University of Texas at Austin professors were told on Monday, by attorneys representing Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, that if they ban guns in their respective classrooms, they will be “punished.”
Paxton’s attorneys have said that professors around the state are already aware that Texas’s current campus carry law allows for firearms to be brought onto college campuses and that no rule has been made to exclude them from being carried into classrooms. As a result, any professor who makes an attempt to prohibit firearms from being brought into their respective classrooms will face disciplinary action for doing so.
This statement from Paxton’s attorneys was directed as a message to Mia Carter, Lisa Moore, and Jennifer Glass. The three UT Austin professors are currently suing both their employer and the State of Texas in federal court in an attempt to temporarily block the new campus carry law. This law enables licensed firearm owners to legally bring their guns onto any college campus, provided they conceal it. Previously, firearms were only allowed to be carried into more common areas such as sidewalks and quads.
Recently, lawyers for the state requested that the judge presiding over the lawsuit throw the case out. The professors fired back, requesting that the judge suspend the enforcement of the law for at least one semester in order to determine whether or not it violates the constitutional rights of both freedoms of speech and equal protection. Furthermore, lawyers for the professors’ state that the new campus carry law, which officially went into effect last week, as well as the campus carry laws implemented by UT Austin are entirely too vague for each of their clients to know both if and how they may be disciplined if they made any attempt to keep firearms out of their respective classrooms. Additionally, they claimed that there currently is no state law in Texas nor is there any policy at UT Austin which prohibits professor from banning firearms in their classrooms.
The brief from Paxton’s attorneys says that the current law is clear, as it gives the presidents of each campus the right to designate their respective schools’ gun-free zones. The brief further asserts that if classrooms are not included as areas that are off-limits, then firearms must be permitted there. The brief further states that the president of UT Austin has not specifically designated classrooms as gun-free zones.
The judge in the case is likely to decide by the end of the week whether or not the professors’ request to temporarily block the law should be granted. According to the professors’ attorney, the injunction would only apply to them and all of the students they would teach in the upcoming fall semester. The judge has admitted, the ruling could begin a path down a slippery slope that would allow other UT Austin professors, as well as other campus educators throughout Texas, to have an excuse to ban firearms in their classrooms.
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