In 2015, the state of Texas was on the verge of passing a campus carry law that would allow college students in possession of a concealed carry permit to carry their firearms on college and university campuses.
That is, until three University of Texas professors got together and sued the state attorney general, Ken Paxton, as well as other UT officials — who had prohibited professors from personally banning guns in their classrooms — in order to prevent allowing permitted concealed handguns on campuses.
That case was dismissed in 2017 by a district court, and now a three-judge panel of the federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has unanimously upheld that dismissal, according to Ammoland.
Judge Lee Yeakel had dismissed that suit on the grounds that the professors lacked standing to bring it, as they had not suffered any harm from the law or university policy, as well as for their failure to submit an actual substantial claim. So the professors collectively appealed their case to the Fifth Circuit.
The three UT professors in the lawsuit are Dr. Jennifer Lynn Glass, a liberal arts professor who took the lead role in the suit, as well as Dr. Mia Carter and Dr. Lisa Moore, both English professors.
The Austin American-Statesman reported that the three professors had argued that campus carry would violate their First Amendment rights by creating a “chill” on their free speech in light of the possibility that firearms could be present in their classrooms.
They also claimed campus carry violated the “well-regulated” provision of the Second Amendment — apparently ignorant of the fact that “well-regulated” in terms of the Second Amendment has nothing to do with regulatory laws on firearms and was instead related to the function and training of militias.
The professors also claimed campus carry violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, as the university lacked the “rational basis” for determining where concealed carry would and wouldn’t be allowed on a campus.
In the Fifth Circuit panel’s ruling, the judges sifted through the arguments put forward by the professors ant put them all to rest.
Glass had expressed particular concern over gun-carrying “religiously conservative students” with “extreme views” and “openly libertarian students” who she suspected owned guns, and feared they would shoot her if “moved to anger and impulsive action.”
With regard to the First Amendment argument, the court essentially stated that Glass’ self-censorship of speech out of fear that some gun-toting students might be compelled to misuse their firearms against her or other students was not sufficient to “manufacture standing” in the case and upheld the district court’s ruling.
On the Second Amendment argument, the court ruled that Glass’ “admittedly fresh” take on the meaning of the phrase “well-regulated” was wrong, citing the famous Supreme Court Heller decision which interpreted “well-regulated” as meaning “the imposition of proper discipline and training” on the militias, and was not a call for the government to “limit or expand the scope” of the individual right to keep and bear arms.
As for the Fourteenth Amendment “equal protection” argument — which was based on a distinction in the law and policy with regard to guns being allowed in classrooms but not faculty lounges or research labs or other areas less-frequented by students, as well as a distinction between public and private universities — the panel again sided with the lower court and declared that Glass had failed to meet the required burdens that would provide standing for the suit.
“The right to keep and bear arms is guaranteed for all Americans, including college students, and the 5th Circuit’s decision prevents that right from being stripped away by three individuals who oppose the law enacted by the Legislature,” declared Attorney General Paxton in a statement after the ruling, according to the Statesman.
Ammoland noted that the professors could appeal the panel’s ruling back to the Fifth Circuit and demand a full en banc hearing of the entire court. The professors have yet to indicate if that is a plan they intend to pursue.
Odds are, the entire Fifth Circuit would uphold the panel decision to affirm the lower court’s dismissal, which would leave only the Supreme Court for the anti-gun professors to turn to for appeal. Considering the current make-up of the high court, and in light of the fact that pro-Second Amendment Judge Brett Kavanaugh will soon be confirmed to shift the balance decisively in favor of gun rights, that option doesn’t look all that promising for the professors either.
In the end, the anti-gun professors have lost their bid to stop campus carry in Texas, and concealed carry permit holders in the state who happen to attend college can rest assured that their right to carry a concealed firearm for self-defense in a lawful manner has been upheld and cannot be infringed by university faculty.
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