UT’s Fenves, regents offer muted reaction to campus carry ruling

The president of the University of Texas and the university’s governing board won the first round in a lawsuit concerning concealed carrying of handguns on campus Monday. But because of the squishy politics of this issue, the president and a spokeswoman for the board were hardly gleeful in their reaction.

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel denied a request by three UT professors for a preliminary injunction that would have allowed them to ban handguns in their classrooms. Campus carry rules adopted by UT President Gregory L. Fenves allow handgun license holders to carry such weapons in a concealed manner in classrooms, some offices, some labs and certain areas of dormitories.

But neither Fenves nor UT System Chancellor Bill McRaven wanted guns on campus in the first place. They lost that debate last year when the state Legislature passed a law allowing concealed carry in public college and university buildings, subject to limited restrictions by school presidents.

“Academic freedom and free speech are essential to the university’s core values and I am firmly committed to upholding them,” UT President Gregory L. Fenves said in a statement. “Many faculty members have concerns about campus carry and the university will continue to work closely with them as we implement and uphold the new law.”

Jenny LaCoste-Caputo, spokeswoman for the UT board, was similarly muted: “This is a difficult issue on which there are a variety of well-intentioned opinions, but our obligation at this point is to follow the law as written. We will continue to support UT presidents as they work with faculty, staff and students to keep our campuses safe and to ensure academic freedom and free speech are protected.”

In contrast, state Attorney General Ken Paxton, a defendant in the professors’ lawsuit along with Fenves and the UT regents, is a supporter of campus carry, and his reaction reflected that posture:

“I am pleased, but not surprised, that the Court denied the request to block Texas’ campus carry law. 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.”

 

 

 

 

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