Thursday, September 1, 2016

U. of Texas students protest law allowing guns in classrooms

A federal judge on Monday August 21 refused to grant an injunction against a recently enacted law that will allow students in Texas to carry concealed handguns even into class.

In response, Texas alumnus, Jessica Jin, has organized a protest using the slogan "Cocks not Glocks". Organizers have already collected over 4,000 dildos from sponsors. These will be handed out to students who will attach them to their backpacks. Jin said: “It offers a visual representation of what it would look like if the gun lobby really got what it wanted, which is the complete normalization of gun culture.” The University of Texas handbook warns about obscene displays: "No person or organization will distribute or display on the campus any writing or visual image, or engage in any public performance, that is obscene. A writing, image, or performance is 'obscene' if it is obscene as defined in Texas Penal Code, Section 43.21 or successor provisions, and is within the constitutional definition of obscenity as set forth in decisions of the United States Supreme Court." The organizers also held an event where they handed out 500 large fake penises. The Facebook page of the group says: “You're carrying a gun to class? Yeah well I'm carrying a HUGE DILDO.”
Three professors had asked for an injunction against the law claiming that the wording was too vague, violated freedoms, and endangered people in the classrooms. U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel disagreed and said in part: "Their First Amendment claim is and must be bottomed on their right to speak and teach freely. Neither the Campus Carry Law nor the Campus Carry Policy forbids them from doing so. " Yeakel also said that neither the Texas legislature nor the Board of Regents has gone beyond their legitimate power in deciding where a licenced individual can carry a concealed weapon in an academic setting.
The attorney for the three professors says that they are gathering evidence for an upcoming trial in which the group argues that the new law violates their First Amendment right to academic freedom because their classroom management could be influenced by fear of violent student retaliation. Private universities are allowed to opt out of the law and all but one have done so.
Last year a University of Texas group published a report making recommendations that would reconcile the law with campus safety. All members of the working group thought it best that guns were not allowed in classrooms. Nevertheless they did not recommend excluding classrooms from the law as it would be difficult and perhaps expensive to have students check their weapons before attending classes.
Ken Paxton, Texas attorney-general filed a motion to dismiss the professors' suit, and he warned that the three could face disciplinary measures if they interfere with the law. He also pointed out that a ban on firearms in dormitories would violate the law. He said he was pleased that the injunction was denied and was not surprised: "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."
On Facebook, rival, pro-gun group, Open Carry Texas has 50 responses for their counter protest compared to the 10,000 for the "The Cocks not Glocks".

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