Three University of Texas at Austin professors sued their university and the state on Wednesday, claiming Texas' new campus carry law is forcing the school to impose "overly-solicitous, dangerously-experimental gun policies" that violate the Second Amendment.
The professors — Jennifer Lynn Glass, Lisa Moore and Mia Carter — are asking a federal judge to grant an injunction that would block the law before it goes into effect on Aug. 1. In the suit, professors say they teach courses that touch emotional issues like gay rights and abortion. The possibility of guns on campus could stifle class discussion, which is a violation of the First Amendment, the suit says.
"Compelling professors at a public university to allow, without any limitation or restriction, students to carry concealed guns in their classrooms chills their First Amendment rights to academic freedom," the lawsuit says.
The suit also cites the Second Amendment, which is usually cited by gun-rights supporters to bolster ideas like campus carry.
"The Second Amendment is not a one-way street," the suit says. "It starts with the proposition that a 'well-regulated militia,' (emphasis added), is necessary to the security of a free state. The Supreme Court has explained that 'well-regulated' means 'imposition of proper discipline and training.'"
The suit adds: "If the state is to force them to admit guns into their classrooms, then the officials responsible for the compulsory policy must establish that there is a substantial reason for the policy and that their regulation of the concealed carrying of handguns on college campuses is 'well-regulated.' Current facts indicate that they cannot do so."
The professors also claim that the law violates the Fourteenth Amendment, which promises equal protection under the law.
The lawsuit is likely to be a long shot. Numerous states across the country have passed similar campus carry laws that haven't been overturned.
The state's campus carry law was approved last year. Starting Aug. 1, public universities will be required to allow concealed handgun license holders to carry their weapons inside most buildings and classrooms, though some limited restrictions apply.
A UT-Austin spokesman said the university has received a copy of the lawsuit and is reviewing it, but has no immediate comment. The university's campus carry policies haven't been finalized. In the coming days, the UT System Board of Regents is expected to consider changes to the rules proposed by university President Greg Fenves.
Fenves is named in the lawsuit, but for his part opposed the rule. As the suit notes, he has publicly stated that he does not believe "that handguns belong on a university campus."
Disclosure: The University of Austin at Texas has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.