AUSTIN, TX – As if to illustrate the disconnect between opponents of campus carry and the current laws governing licensed concealed carry in Texas, the group UT Students Against Guns on Campus plans to hold an anti-campus carry rally in an area of the UT-Austin campus where the licensed concealed carry of handguns is already legal.
The “Oppose Guns on Campus” rally—advertised on a Facebook event page emblazoned with the slogan “KEEP GUNS OFF THE UT CAMPUS!”—was scheduled to take place at 5 PM Tuesday, April 28, in the west mall rally space on the UT-Austin campus. Because current Texas gun laws do not classify the publicly accessible outdoor areas of a college campus (e.g., UT-Austin’s west mall rally space) as part of the “premises” of the college, and because this event is not sponsored by UT, nothing in the Texas Penal Code would prohibit a concealed handgun license (CHL) holder from carrying a concealed handgun at the rally.
Madison Welch, Southwest regional director for Students for Concealed Carry (SCC), quipped, “In case it wasn’t already clear how little these anti-campus carry activists understand about the issue they’re protesting, they’ve chosen an area of campus where concealed carry is already allowed, to give speeches about how dangerous campus would be if concealed carry were allowed.”
If the campus carry legislation pending before the Texas Legislature were to become law, the firearm restrictions in campus buildings would still be much more stringent than are the current firearm restrictions in UT-Austin’s west mall rally space. Under the proposed campus carry law, only trained, licensed, carefully screened adults (age 21 or above) would be allowed to carry concealed handguns in campus buildings. Under the current law, any non-felon over the age of 18 may lawfully possess a long gun (rifle or shotgun) in the publicly accessible outdoor areas of campus. Welch noted, “One of the rally goers could choose to hang her protest sign from the barrel of an AK-47, and she wouldn’t be in violation of the law.”
Despite the irony of the location chosen for this anti-campus carry rally, SCC has no plans to encourage members to carry concealed handguns at the rally. Furthermore, SCC leaders chose to withhold this press release until just three hours before the rally, so as to avoid inspiring a counter-protest by radical factions of the state’s (unrelated) open carry movement, some of whom have a history of carrying long guns to events sponsored by gun-control organizations. Welch explained, “SCC’s mission is to educate, not intimidate, those who oppose us. There is no need for any type of counter-protest—the very existence of this rally belies the argument that licensed concealed carry threatens free speech on college campuses.”
Nothing in this press release should be construed as legal advice.