Concealed Carry Faces Opposition on University of Texas Campus

Texas governor: We expect everyone to follow Texas law

Student displays his Glock 9mm semi-automatic handgun on the University of Utah campus
Holstered handgun / AP

Gun control groups, teachers, and others have joined together to oppose campus carry at the University of Texas at Austin— urging the university president to say no to guns—but the Texas governor’s press office told the Washington Free Beacon they expect everyone to follow the law when it takes effect next year.

Opposition to guns on campus has gained momentum following last week’s shooting at an Oregon community college that left nine dead in addition to the gunman.

As of Thursday, more than 4,800 signatures were collected in an online petition fighting for a gun free University of Texas at Austin. More than 350 teachers have also signed their names to a letter urging UT Austin president Gregory Fenves to oppose guns on campus.

"We expect that everyone at our universities—including the professors who signed the petition—to follow the law," said John Wittman, deputy press secretary for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, in an email to the Free Beacon.

Abbot signed the campus concealed carry law this past summer.

The group Gun Free UT, on its new website, indicated it is in the planning stages of "more collective action."

"We will fight the insanity imposed upon our campus by 12 Texas legislators who are serving the big money gun lobby, NOT the people of Texas. What is happening at UT is reverberating nationally. There is a national movement brewing and we are a part of it," Gun Free UT said on its website.

One of the group’s co-founders, Joan Neuberger, said in an email she was "too busy with teaching and other responsibilities to talk to reporters today."

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a Michael Bloomberg-affiliated gun control group, is backing the movement and wrote a letter to Fenves urging him to oppose guns on the campus.

Fenves did not respond to an email request for comment.

Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, a history professor at UT, said in an email, "The reaction of some people to mass shooting has been to argue that, 1) killers target gun-free zones; 2) it therefore makes sense to have people armed around to fight back; 3) the guys who do it are lunatics and the problem is mental health; 4) there is nothing we can do, humans are evil by nature and kill each other, look at Cain who killed his brother, Abel."

"Every one of these answers is wrong and the press has been scared or lazy or both to challenge them," Cañizares-Esguerra said.

"The main cause of gun killing in the USA, including in the state of Texas, is not crime or gang-related murders, it’s arguments: People who are armed and engage in heat-of-the-moment disputes," Cañizares-Esguerra said. He indicated that guns on campus would chill public debate. Faculty "will think twice before engaging in any public argumentation among students who have arms," he said.

"The professors, moms, and I could argue all day as to whether the concealed handgun license program is actually detrimental to public health or not. Thankfully we don’t have to," said Jacob Williamson, a senior electrical engineer and computer science major, in an email.

"The Texas Department of Public Safety already found out for us, and the results are difficult to argue with. Essentially crimes caused or catalyzed by the possession of a CHL (i.e. crimes of passion in public with a CCW or negligent discharge) functionally never happen. Those stats aren't from any lobbyist group either, like the NRA or Bloomberg. That's fresh from the courts themselves," Williamson said.

"There's no reason you should feel any different on campus, especially since it's been legal to carry everywhere outside buildings on campus since 1996."

One economics professor resigned from UT this week over the issue.