In this video, members of the Modern Language Association chant, “No guns, no cops, no violence!” during the MLA’s January 8 anti-campus carry rally in Austin. Apparently, these professors not only oppose letting trained, licensed adults protect themselves on campus; they also oppose letting trained, commissioned peace officers protect people on campus. Their proposed solution to violence is to make everyone on campus as vulnerable as possible.
AUSTIN, TX – Members of the Modern Language Association, concerned that Texas will soon allow the licensed concealed carry of handguns in university buildings, have decided to examine the new law, study the twenty-year history of licensed concealed carry in Texas, research the experiences of the many U.S. colleges that currently allow concealed carry in campus buildings, and publish a detailed analysis of the issue and its potential impact on—Just kidding; they decided to build a book fort in front of the Texas Capitol.
On Friday, January 8, members of the Modern Language Association (MLA)—which happens to be hosting its annual convention in Austin—will join with members of Gun Free UT to host an anti-campus carry march to the Texas Capitol, followed by a rally in which the protesters will build a “symbolic gun exclusion zone” out of books, on the Capitol steps. Selected members will then enter this no-guns-allowed book fort to read from texts that they believe can only be taught in a “gun-free environment.”
Antonia Okafor, Southwest regional director for Students for Concealed Carry (SCC), commented, “It’s appropriate that the highlight of this anti-campus carry protest will be a symbolic gun-free zone, since symbolic gun-free zones are exactly what these protesters hope to preserve at Texas universities.”
The basis for this protest is the dubious belief that licensed concealed carry on Texas college campuses will inhibit freedom of speech and the free exchange of controversial ideas. Completely ignored by the protesters is the reality that dozens and dozens of U.S. college campuses currently allow licensed concealed carry in campus buildings and that, after allowing campus carry for an average of more than five years, not one of those campuses has reported a single incident of a license holder using a handgun in a threatening manner. The protesters also ignore the successful history of licensed concealed carry throughout Texas—a Texan is significantly more likely to be struck by lightning than to be murdered or negligently killed by a concealed handgun license holder, and if all Americans (including children and the elderly) committed murder at the same rate as Texas CHL holders, the U.S. would have a homicide rate on par with the famously low rates in Australia, Canada, and England.
In a January 6 op-ed in the Austin American-Statesman, Diana Taylor, second vice president of the MLA, demonstrates that experience with the types of literary studies that fill MLA’s academic journals doesn’t translate into expertise on sociopolitical issues. After commending the “thoughtful” report of the campus carry policy working group at UT-Austin, Taylor blatantly contradicts the findings of that report by claiming (without citing a source), “Laws that allow licensed handgun carriers to bring concealed handguns into buildings on campuses have proved to actually increase the likelihood of violence in general.”
The report of UT-Austin’s admittedly anti-campus carry working group states, “Our examination of states that already have campus carry revealed little evidence of campus violence that can be directly linked to campus carry, and none that involves an intentional shooting…We found that the evidence does not support the claim that a causal link exists between campus carry and an increased rate of sexual assault. We found no evidence that campus carry has caused an increase in suicide rates on campuses in other states.” The report goes on to state, “We reached out to 17 research universities in the seven campus-carry states…Most respondents reported that campus carry had not had much direct impact on student life or academic affairs.” The working group’s findings are consistent with the preponderance of peer-reviewed studies on licensed concealed carry—including a 2015 study from Texas A&M University—which have found that concealed carry cannot be shown to lead to an increase in violent crime.
Texas has seen enough silly protests from both sides of the campus carry debate. The time for theatrics has passed; now is the time for a serious discussion about the implementation of the law. That is why Students for Concealed Carry has asked Texas Governor Greg Abbott to include campus carry in any special legislative session called during 2016. The state’s campus carry law should clearly define the authority of universities to regulate concealed carry on campus, so as to finally put an end to a debate that grows messier and costlier with each passing day.