Pro-concealed carry group, Paxton blast UT professors’ lawsuit

At best, a Hail Mary pass. At worst, an attempt to manipulate the University of Texas System Board of Regents.

That’s how Students for Concealed Carry, a nonprofit group whose name states its mission, described a lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court by three professors at the Austin campus. The professors want to be able to prohibit the carrying of concealed handguns in their classrooms.

Here’s what Antonia Okafor, Southwest regional director of Students for Concealed Carry, had to say in an emailed statement:

“Licensed concealed carry has been allowed throughout most of Texas for more than twenty years, with no indication that it has led to an increase in violent crime or gun accidents. It’s been allowed on more than 100 U.S. college campuses for an average of seven years, without a single report of a resulting assault, suicide attempt, or fatality of any kind. To put it in terms these professors should understand, the clinical trials are over, and campus carry has been shown to pose little risk to public safety.”

For his part, state Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, said he would vigorously defend the campus carry law. His emailed statement:

“This lawsuit is not only baseless, it is an insult to the millions of law abiding gun owners in Texas and across this country. The Texas Legislature passed a constitutionally sound law, and I will vigorously defend it. Adults who are licensed by the State to carry a handgun anywhere in Texas do not suddenly become a menace to society when they set foot on campus. The right to keep and bear arms is guaranteed for all Americans, including college students, and must be vigilantly protected and preserved.”

UT President Gregory L. Fenves is another defendant in the case. “We are reviewing the lawsuit,” his spokesman, Gary Susswein, said by email.

When he announced the university’s campus carry policies in February, Fenves made it clear that his personal views don’t square up with his obligation to uphold the law, which bars policies that generally prohibit concealed handguns.

“I do not believe handguns belong on a university campus, so this decision has been the greatest challenge of my presidency to date,” Fenves said at the time. “I empathize with the many faculty members, staffers, students and parents of students who signed petitions, sent emails and letters, and organized to ban guns from campus and especially classrooms. As a professor, I understand the deep concerns raised by so many. However, as president, I have an obligation to uphold the law.”

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