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Free Minds & Free Markets

Judge: Campus Carry Doesn’t Hurt Free Speech

University of Texas at Austin professors claiming guns on campus have a chilling effect.

Three University of Texas at Austin professors filed a lawsuit claiming that letting people carry firearms on their campus would have a chilling effect on speech. Last week, District Judge Lee Yeakel dismissed the suit claiming the professors could present "no concrete evidence to substantiate their fears" and that their fears rest on "mere conjecture." Although it's certainly refreshing to see professors using First Amendment justifications with such vigor, it's even better that Yeakel dismissed their ludicrous arguments and protected campus carry.

In 2015, the Texas legislature strengthened their commitment to gun rights at public universities. Senate Bill 11, which came into effect in August 2016, permitted campus concealed carry in campus buildings within reasonable guidelines. Those guidelines vary from school to school. At UT Austin, guns must stay out of sight, and individuals professors can choose to make "gun-free zones" in their offices, provided they post their rules clearly.

Professors Jennifer Lynn Glass (sociology), Lisa Moore (English), and Mia Carter (English) banded together and filed a lawsuit that sought to overturn the new law. One professor argued that the "possibility of the presence of concealed weapons in a classroom impedes my and other professors' ability to create a daring, intellectually active, mutually supportive, and engaged community of thinkers." Their reasoning centered around the idea that students will be unable to speak freely––a First Amendment argument––in an environment where other students are armed.

But this logic posits that students will pull guns on each other when they hear ideas they disagree with––an unlikely outcome. Even for controversial topics like abortion and, ironically, gun rights, it would be beyond the scope of reason to expect that a classroom conversation would become so heated that a student's life would be threatened.

Judge Yeakel drew on the reasoning in the 1972 free speech case Laird v. Tatum, which said that "Allegations of a subjective 'chill' are not an adequate substitute for a claim of specific present objective harm or a threat of specific future harm."

Yeakel then used the precedent of Laird, and lack of specific evidence, as grounds for dismissal: "Here, Plaintiffs ask the court to find standing based on their self-imposed censoring of classroom discussions caused by their fear of the possibility of illegal activity by persons not joined in this lawsuit. Plaintiffs present no concrete evidence to substantiate their fears…" He's right that there's no evidence that this law has caused harm in the way they claim. Unfortunately, Yeakel only addressed a small part of the professors' argument––the speech-related points. They also brought up issues with equal protection and the law's vagueness, so it's likely that this issue won't be fully laid to rest.

On one hand, it's good that college professors are recognizing the value of creating environments for free speech to thrive in. On the other, this seems like a thinly veiled political move, and it's unlikely that opponents of campus carry laws will be quelled by this lawsuit's dismissal. Hopefully these professors remain committed to the First Amendment principles they hold so dear whenever they're threatened in a classroom environment. They're certainly right about one thing: exchanging ideas freely is the whole damn point of college.

Photo Credit: Phil Roeder/Foter.com

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  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    On one hand To be sure, it's good that college professors are recognizing the value of creating environments for free speech to thrive in.

    FTFY

  • AlmightyJB||

    Ouch. Lol

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    On the other, this seems like a thinly veiled obviously transparent political move with a giant flashing neon arrow pointing right at it.

  • Rich||

    they were unable to establish that carrying firearms on campus inhibit inhibits free speech

    FTFY

  • gaoxiaen||

    My mule gets this crazy idea that you're laughing at him.

  • SamHell||

    Fuck That Fuck You

  • Dillinger||

    >>But this logic posits that students will pull guns on each other when they hear ideas they disagree with

    get Steve Scalisse's take on this

  • ||

    Did he pull a gun?

  • Dillinger||

    he was turning two and took one in the hip.

  • Ron||

    the left has been know to get violent when they don't like what they hear but the left normally doesn't carry guns, yet

  • gah87||

    +1 Che Guevara

  • ||

    Free speech is bad.

    Guns are even badder.

    What is Unthinking Obedience Alex?

  • BYODB||

    I love this particular chain of logic the anti-gun crowds seem to have for restricting guns.


    "Because I would shoot you, if I had a gun, for what you just said you shouldn't be allowed to have one because you did not shoot me for what I just said."


    Brilliant.


    Not to say there might not be other arguments, but this one in particular I seem to hear more than the others. Could just be selective hearing, perhaps.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    I keep seeing people trying to come up with a logic behind the way the gun grabbers duck and weave politically. Why? The explanation sis simple, and has nothing to do with logic. The Gun Grabbers are losing their tiny minds.

    Look; when I first became interested in politics (mid 1970's) it was widely accepted that handguns would be broadly banned in ten years or so, and long guns would follow quickly. BOTH SIDES assumed this. The Gun Control advocates with a certain smug satisfaction and the Second Amendment supporters with glum resignation.

    It didn't happen. Instead, States started loosening restrictions, and lawsuits against Gun Control laws started winning. The Gun Control people just can't understand this. It undermines their understanding of the world, and destroys their reason. What we see from them is not a carefully plotted out strategy; it's the reflex actions of an ideology in its death throes.

  • Tionico||

    possibly......

  • ChipToBeSquare||

    All people are violent animals without a benevolent government to keep them in line

  • Ron||

    and the benevolent government keeps them in line with greater violence

  • Uncle Jay||

    RE: Guns and Speech At UT

    "Professors Jennifer Lynn Glass (sociology), Lisa Moore (English), and Mia Carter (English) banded together and filed a lawsuit that sought to overturn the new law. One professor argued that the "possibility of the presence of concealed weapons in a classroom impedes my and other professors' ability to create a daring, intellectually active, mutually supportive, and engaged community of thinkers." Their reasoning centered around the idea that students will be unable to speak freely––a First Amendment argument––in an environment where other students are armed."

    There's nothing like a sight of a firearm to make these snowflakes wet their pants.

  • Vapourwear||

    For a bunch of words teachers, they don't seem to know what "possibility" means.

    This is why it's places people like this run that always get shot up, they're too fucking stupid to know rules don't stop evil.

  • Tionico||

    These flakes are SO DELICATE they wet their panties at the mere POSSIBILITY that someone, somewhere, just MIGHT POSSIBLY happen to have carried a handgun concealed upon their person for the past ten years and hurt nobody with it, the HAPPEN to be within fifty feet of their own delicate selves, the DO SOMETHING horrible, like think these flakes are, well, flakes. WHILE ARMED??!!?? Don't you just FEEL the terror?
    Maybe they should leave UT Austin and go find jobs at a small daycare centre well outside of town. Their inmate charges are generally too small to be able to carry handguns in their waistbands. The way things are going of late, though, it won't be too much longer before the infants at the daycare ARE big enough to have their Mommy May I Cards to carry.....

  • Hank Phillips||

    Whining sissybot anti-rights commie profs? At MY Alma Mater?
    Le plus c'est la même chose...

  • Robespierre Josef Stalin||

    OT: Can we just call people that worry about any increase in minimum wage anywhere "Global Minimum Wage Increase Alarmists"

    They rely on data that doesn't support their premise, rely on economic models that aren't predictive and get their money from interest groups with a vested interest in promoting an agenda. What a bunch of fucking frauds!

    When Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant and workers in the Fight for $15 were negotiating an increase in Seattle's minimum wage back in 2014, opponents of their effort warned — as minimum wage opponents often do — that paying low-wage workers too much too soon would have harmful economic consequences. Two years after Seattle began increasing its minimum wage (for most businesses with 500 or more employees, it's headed to $15 an hour next year), Seattle's economy is as strong as ever. The Seattle unemployment rate in April, for example, was 2.6 percent, the lowest it has been in nine years. Yet the release of a new study this week from a group of researchers at the University of Washington has brought opponents of minimum wage increases out of the woodwork again.

    One would do well to dismiss these naysayers. The new study's findings are out of step with a large body of research pertinent to Seattle's minimum wage increase...

  • Calidissident||

    From the comments:

    "I just graduated from the UW's Evans School of Public Policy and had the opportunity to work with ESD data. A few points:

    "In other words, while workers at a standalone mom-and-pop restaurant show up in their results, workers at Starbucks and McDonald's don't."

    This is partially correct. It is true that the researchers could not analyze data from many multi-site employers. Critically, however, any business which franchises locations--such as McDonalds--are included in the study. Employers have the option of reporting all wage data to the Washington Employment Security Department either by location (as is the case for franchised businesses) or by a single site, often the company HQ (companies like QFC). The fast food industry is largely captured in the study, thanks to its franchising model."

  • Calidissident||

    "Second, it is true that these results differ from any other minimum wage study. However, the data set used by UW's researchers was significantly more representative of the low-wage population than any of the aforementioned studies. Most prior studies, including the Berkeley study, have looked only at restaurants when analyzing the minimum wage. In contrast, the UW study captures all sectors of the economy, and because of the comprehensiveness of the data, is able to specifically examine low-wage employees, as opposed to all employees in the industry. Crititically - and this has been significantly underreported - the UW researchers got the same results as Reich et al. when they confined their study to the restaurant industry (as Reich et al. did). This overlooked result simultaneously addresses methodological concerns about the study and helps explain why the results are different (specifically, because the data is more comprehensive)

    TL;DR: When the UW study's authors examined only the data which the Berkeley study used, they found similar results to the Berkeley study. Therefore, the UW study's different finds can be largely attributed to a much more comprehensive data set."

    File this under "studies that support left-wing preferences are the unassailable work of experts and anyone who criticizes them is a stupid anti-intellectual science denier, but studies that don't support those preferences must be bad and wrong, and supported by evil deceptive right-wingers!"

  • ChipToBeSquare||

    It's also funny that they point to Seattle's overall prosperity as evidence that these policies aren't harmful. Of course Seattle is wealthier than some random city in the Midwest. But it's laughable to say that's just because one place has a higher minimum wage than the other. There are so many other factors that have to be considered. It's almost like saying that women don't go to work as much in Saudi Arabia compared to Denmark because they don't have paid family leave there

  • creech||

    Cool, the alarmists are apparently full of crap. So only a greedy pig would stand in the way of new legislation raising the minimum wage to $20 or $25.

  • Sevo||

    Robespierre Josef Stalin|7.13.17 @ 9:15PM|#
    "OT: Can we just call people that worry about any increase in minimum wage anywhere "Global Minimum Wage Increase Alarmists"

    On topic:
    Can we point out that you're a lying piece of shit who is totally ignorant of what you claim to know besides?
    Fuck off, dip-shit.

  • Sevo||

    BTW, the slime-bag commie-kid imagines none of us here have seen the special pleading, cherry-picking and misdirection involved in convincing slime-bags that raising the cost of employing low-wage workers won't lead to less of those low-wage workers working.
    Nope, he's 'educated', therefor he knows which studies are sciency!
    Hey, slime-bag? please die before you infect your offspring with your stupidity.

  • John C. Randolph||

    Hey man, get off the fence here, will you? How do you really feel?

    -jcr

  • Glide||

    and get their money from interest groups with a vested interest in promoting an agenda.

    Unlike the one that supports your point, which was chartered by...

    ...

    ...the mayor of Seattle.

    Oh. Oops.

  • gah87||

    No, they are Economics Deniers, and deserve the full weight of a Paul Samuelson 18th Edition dropped on their soft-shelled skulls.

  • Longtobefree||

    Well, back in the dark ages, before the bill of rights was suspended on most college campuses, everyone in the Virginia Tech Rifle and Pistol club had firearms and ammunition in their dorm rooms. On Saturdays, when we went out to our target range with a few thousand rounds, we walked across the campus with rifles slung over our shoulders, and pistols holstered on our hips.
    Funny thing, no one got shot. Not a single person.
    This was during a time when many people on campus were saying things we did not agree with. (There was a bit of unpleasantness going on in southeast Asia, and some thought that was a bod idea, for example.)
    Some years after we all graduated, guns were banned, and a lot of people got shot. With a banned gun.
    My personal thought, based on my personal experience, is that trying to suspend the constitution is a bad idea that does not work.

  • gah87||

    "Funny thing, no one got shot. Not a single person."

    Clearly the Virginia Tech Rifle and Pistol Club needed more practice.

  • gah87||

    By the way, in all seriousness, I agree wholeheartedly with your final sentence: "...trying to suspend the constitution is a bad idea that does not work."

    Unfortunately, many try. Fortunately, we still have some semblance of rule of law in the USA. I lay an enormous responsibility at the feet of my young children to keep the rule of law alive.

  • John C. Randolph||

    Their reasoning centered around the idea that students will be unable to speak freely––a First Amendment argument––in an environment where other students are armed.

    Those assholes are just projecting. They know that they'd use firearms to enforce their opinions, so they assume other people would, too.

    -jcr

  • n00bdragon||

    Because people who carry guns are from a different culture and are scary! The last thing we need in college classrooms is (the wrong kind of) diversity!

    It's all just culture war nonsense. It's about making those awful gun carrying people stop carrying guns so they are more like you, the enlightened gun-less liberal.

  • Hank Phillips||

    That tower over the UT campus... Wasn't that the place where the former Catholic altar boy, Boy Scout and USMC jarhead-turned-sniper winged or killed some 47 individuals before police were able to shoot him? That's what the UT campus was like BEFORE campus carry. Why not pick a spot in some wilderness, fence it in with chain-link and put up signs declaring it a GUN-FREE SCHOOL ZONE. Berserkers and whack jobs could then be drawn there, like moths to a light bulb, and kill each other.

  • ace_m82||

    That's... not a bad idea. Maybe you could contain violence to a small area just by calling it a "gun free zone"? Maybe they should put those things outside sensitive areas instead of surrounding sensitive areas?

  • Curt||

    So, let me get this right... the idea is that, if people were allowed to carry guns on campus, the possibility that they might do so would cause people not to speak freely out of fear of being shot. It seems that there's probably some way to see whether this is a valid concern.

    You could look at... oh, i don't know... the entire fucking country that exists outside of college campuses. Then you could consider how frequently someone gets shot for freely expressing their views on the minimum wage, environmental regulations, and whether hate-speech is truly protected free-speech.

    Then again, maybe that evidence wouldn't support their efforts to ban guns, so maybe they shouldn't look at that.

  • Curt||

    Nevermind the fact that college administrations have already proven that guns are neither the best nor only way to chill free speech on campus. That is much more effectively done by simply accusing opposing speakers of committing hate crimes for their views.

  • Babylonandon||

    And it's very effective if the prof or other triggered snowflake has already proved he/she/? can organize an ANTIFA lynch mob against some student "nazi" who dared to utter an non-pc concept ...

    The potential for armed resistance is NOT something the snowflake crowd wants to have to face. Leveling the playing field is not fair to SJW's sense of the way the world should work.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    the "possibility of the presence of concealed weapons in a classroom impedes my and other professors' ability to create a daring, intellectually active, mutually supportive, and engaged community of thinkers."

    Guns? I thought the SJW crowd had that in the bag.

  • Robbzilla||

    "daring and intellectual" - That's code for Marxism 101.

  • Brandybuck||

    But this logic posits that students will pull guns on each other when they hear ideas they disagree with


    Actually with the new crop of special snowflake bedwetters, that's not so far fetched. Play-Dough and Puppy Dogs can only take you so far. Eventually you reach the snapping point and start blasting away to protect yourself from the unsafe feelings.

  • EvilWayz||

    Never mind the fact there very well could be students ignoring the gun free zone sign and carrying concealed currently. The operative word here is concealed.

    Is it sexist that all three of these Professors are women? I picture Reverend Lovejoy's wife from The Simpsons, times three, wring their hands and asking "won't someone please think of the children?????"

  • Cy||

    Don't point out all of the bullshit laws our nanny state has forced on us since women acquired the right to vote. You're only allowed to attribute positive things to maternal instinct.

  • The Pessimistic Shrink||

    If psychology had a vote on the matter, then giving guns to late-teens and early twenty-somethings would be nixed. Many teens, owing to their problematic childhoods, are an identity crisis waiting to happen, and during the window when they must launch themselves into adulthood, they can be disastrously unready for it. Their sense of internal wrongness, and therefore projected injustice, can be a mega-ton bomb with a hair trigger. They don't need a gun.

  • Badger O Stripey One||

    When you can't be sure the other guy isn't carrying a gun it's best to get a little old-fashioned and be polite all the time.

  • dchang0||

    These damned leftists--if the presence of guns suppress free speech, then why are they so desperate to make sure the government is the only armed group?

    Oh, that's right, to eventually systematically murder their political opposition as described in Solzhenitzyn's "The Gulag Archipelago."

    And just as Solzhenitzyn described, many former socialists/communists found themselves suddenly and inexplicably cast out of the party and thrown into prison on trumped-up charges. They never imagined that they'd go from enjoying the benefits of crushing their opposition to being crushed by the party machine.

  • Robbzilla||

    I guess it's time for these so-called professors to move on to places that they agree with a bit more. Have a nice day! Don't let the door hit you on the ass on your way out!

  • Johnimo||

    "Their reasoning centered around the idea that students will be unable to speak freely––a First Amendment argument––in an environment where other students are armed."

    The law requires their firearms to be concealed. How will anyone know that they're carrying? Are they afraid and inhibited in a public restaurant in downtown Austin, knowing someone at the next table might be carrying? It's a nonsensical argument.

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