Sample Talking Points

This series was originally published in Huffington Post as an article titled  How To Get Guns Off Campuses: A Call To Action!

We will be publishing this series over the next few days. This is Part 5 and the final part.

Sample Talking Points Against Campus Carry, Against Pro-Campus-Carry-Related Legislation, and in Favor of Opt Out.

(Originally published by Aron Weinberg as an Appendix to Huffington Post Article How to Get Guns Off Campuses: A Call to Action)

  • History. The framers of The Bill of Rights never intended for the 2nd Amendment to be practiced on campuses. When James Madison and Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia, they forbid firearms on campus.

Continue reading Sample Talking Points

The Many Costs of Campus Carry

Excellent article in the New Yorker, by UT professor  Minkah Makalani

It begins —

When I was growing up, in Kansas City, Missouri, I didn’t know anyone who had gone to college. No one in my family had ever gone; almost everyone found work in the city’s ever-growing service sector, learned a trade, or joined the military. College seemed like a good idea, though I knew as much about how to get there as I did how to pilot a space shuttle. What little I knew about college life I gleaned from the TV series “A Different World.” From the exploits of the math whiz Dwayne Wayne and the Southern belle Whitley Gilbert at Hillman College I understood that, whatever it got right or wrong, college offered two things: a place where you could debate ideas, and a place where there were no guns.

Read the article here

A Primer on Campus Carry

This series was originally published in Huffington Post as an article titled  How To Get Guns Off Campuses: A Call To Action!

We will be publishing this series over the next few days. This is Part 4.

The below primer, which can also serve as a general resource, provides an overview of facts, figures, and arguments against campus carry from which talking points could be formulated:

  • History. The framers of The Bill of Rights never intended for the 2nd Amendment (1791) to apply to campuses. When Thomas Jefferson and James Madison founded the University of Virginia, they forbid student from carrying firearms on campus. In fact, the fundamental individual right to bear arms under the 2nd Amendment was only established federally in 2008 (DC vs. Heller). The ruling recognized “Like most rights, the 2nd Amendment is not unlimited,” failing to assert this fundamental right in “sensitive places, such as schools and government buildings.” Although Texas is only required to follow statutory minimums established by the U.S. Supreme Court, neither DC vs. Heller nor any other U.S. Supreme Court ruling has ever asserted this fundamental right in public, let alone on campuses and in classrooms.
  • Pro-campus-carry argument. Somewhat ironically, the main public proponents of this legislation, Students for Concealed Carry, don’t argue for campus carry under the 2nd Amendment. Aside from practical reasons for supporting the law, at least currently on their website SCC’s epistemology is based on the idea that “self-defense is a human right.” Some may question, however, whether the exercise of this human right in university classrooms should necessarily includes handguns.

Continue reading A Primer on Campus Carry

A Call to Action!

This series was originally published in Huffington Post as an article titled  How To Get Guns Off Campuses: A Call To Action!

We will be publishing this series over the next few days. This is Part 3.

In order to continue being effective, the unprecedented grassroots campaign and protest that has emerged against campus carry in Texas over the last year should consider re-examining how resources are distributed within the movement and devote significant energy towards opening a “new chapter” to complement its current activities: the legislative action chapter. The reason for this partial shift is simple. If we don’t, we’re not going to get very much accomplished.

If you haven’t previously worked on campus carry during a Texas Legislative Session, or haven’t read the the seminal 2008 RAND study evaluating on-the-street shooting accuracy of the NYC Police Department (preview: it’s not so good) – a category that includes most of us – the rest of this albeit quite long article is highly recommended to help prepare us for what will not be an easy fight.

In Texas, here’s the rub. The time to act is now. To change laws in Texas, or block new harmful proposals, the fight has to be taken to the Texas Legislature, which only meets for 140 days every odd calendar year. This means starting in mid-January, 2017, there’s a window until May 29th, 2017 to influence legislative outcomes that won’t appear again until mid-January 2019.

If you already have a chapter against campus carry at your university or community college and want to work on campus carry in the Texas Legislature, you’ll need to get organized. If you don’t have a chapter, but want to get involved, you’ll have to start one and find other student leaders and organizations in your campus community that would be interested in joining you.

Although some of the below applies to Texas specifically, many of the issues involved in bringing handguns into campuses and classrooms do not. Some of the below information might therefore be helpful to readers working against campus carry in other states.

Lawmakers may find the sections on “Statistics on Texas Handgun Licensees” and “Training of Texas Handgun Licensees” helpful to inform their own work since a fair portion of this information was never introduced during deliberations over SB11 or for other campus carry bills introduced during the last four biennial legislative sessions (i.e. 2009-2015).

  1. Overall Goals

There are at least two immediate goals for the 2017 Texas State Legislative session:

There is at least one eventual goal:

Keep in mind, in the service of both immediate and eventual goals, our aim as campus communities is not to get guns out of Texas. It is only to get guns off our campuses, and primarily out of our buildings and classrooms.

  1. How to Prepare for the 2017 Texas State Legislative session

Continue reading A Call to Action!

A Brief History of Guns on Campuses and Campus Carry in Texas

This series was originally published in Huffington Post as an article titled  How To Get Guns Off Campuses: A Call To Action!

We will be publishing this series over the next few days. This is Part 2.

In 2008, galvanized by the Virginia Tech Massacre the year before, the National Rifle Association (NRA) and American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) developed a model bill to spread so-called “campus carry” across the country, asserting the right and need for communities of higher learning throughout America to arm themselves under the 2nd Amendment. In retrospect, at least, it was not a particularly surprising move. Although in the 1920’s and 30’s, during which the 2nd Amendment was still conventionally viewed in America as fundamentally a “collective” not “individual” right, the NRA helped write and lobby for the first federal firearm regulation laws, after a historic coup within the organization in 1977 transformed a group focused on hunting and marksmanship into a “2nd Amendment activism group” with one of the most wealthy and influential lobbying arms in the country, the NRA had worked to wheedle away many of the “tyrannical” gun laws and regulations its previous membership had supported. In 2008, guns in colleges and universities became just another item on a state-by-state and federal “guns everywhere” agenda that included allowing guns into bars, opposing modest gun-safety laws that have been shown to save lives, and opposing mandatory background checks for all gun purchases that would make it more difficult for criminals to purchase firearms. Continue reading A Brief History of Guns on Campuses and Campus Carry in Texas

How To Get Guns Off Campuses: A Call To Action!

This series was originally published in Huffington Post as an article titled  How To Get Guns Off Campuses: A Call To Action!

We will be publishing this series over the next few days.


A Brief History of Guns on Campuses and Campus Carry in Texas
A Call to Action
A Primer on Campus Carry
Sample Talking Points

The 2nd Amendment and campus carry can be touchy subjects. Try to be respectful of the viewpoints of other people and groups, such as those of Students for Concealed Carry, even if you don’t agree with them.

Don’t forget to vote this November 8th!

It is our hope that this series can serve as a starting point for a collaborative effort against campus carry in Texas. We hope to see you along the way! Continue reading How To Get Guns Off Campuses: A Call To Action!

Professors Carter, Glass and Moore nominated for Civitatis Award

Civitatis Award Nomination
Professors Mia Carter, Jennifer Glass, and Lisa Moore

October 7, 2016

I nominate three outstanding faculty colleagues for the 2016 Civitatis Award: Professors Mia Carter, Jennifer Glass, and Lisa Moore. Although the Civitatis Award is usually given to an individual faculty member, the joint efforts of these three professors warrant this special recognition. (I received approval for making this multiple nomination from Dr. Hillary Hart, Secretary of the Faculty Council.)

The Civitatis Award is given “in recognition of dedicated and meritorious service to the University above and beyond the regular expectations of teaching, research, and writing.” These three distinguished professors have proven their “above and beyond” dedication to the University through their opposition to concealed handguns on our campus. Their courage in speaking out against the campus carry law attests to their overwhelming commitment to the safety and wellbeing of students, faculty, and staff at the University.

In his State of the University Address, President Fenves noted that on the issue of “campus carry, where many passionately disagree, we have had an open and constructive debate where all voices were heard,” and he thanked the University community for their efforts in this regard. Professors Carter, Glass, and Moore deserve to be singled out for our gratitude. It is because of their tireless and ongoing work that the interests of the vast majority in our community have been represented in this debate.

Citizenship requires sacrifice. These three professors, all nationally-recognized scholars, have sacrificed their time and energy to make the University a better place. They are standing up for what they believe is best for our community, even at considerable personal and professional risk. Their actions inspire pride among alumni, faculty, staff and students, and offer hope to everyone opposed to the proliferation of firearms on college campuses. The Civitatis Award is a fitting tribute for their meritorious service.


Christine L. Williams Professor of Sociology

The following UT Chairs, Directors, and Dean emailed me in support of this nomination:

Kamran Aghaie, Chair, Department of Middle Eastern Studies
Jossianna Arroyo-Martínez, Chair, Department of Spanish and Portuguese Robert Crosnoe, Chair, Department of Sociology
Elizabeth Cullingford, Chair, Department of English
Andrew Dillon, Dean, School of Information
Anthony Di Fiore, Chair, Department of Anthropology
Steven Friesen, Chair, Department of Religious Studies
Susan Heinzelman, Director, Center for Women’s and Gender Studies Richard Meier, Chair, Department of Linguistics
Jacqueline Woolley, Chair, Department of Psychology
Mary Neuburger, Chair, Department of Slavic and Eurasian Studies
Martha Selby, Chair, Department of Asian Studies
Debra Umberson, Director, Population Research Center

Download Civitatis Nomination

Violent gun rights video should not stop fight for better laws

This opinion piece first appeared in the Austin American Statesman on Friday, Sept. 9, 2016

By Emily Keown – Special to the American-Statesman

My family hadn’t even finished breakfast last Thursday when my phone began buzzing.  A threatening video had popped online that name checked volunteers with the Texas chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America — of which I am a volunteer leader — and friends wanted to make sure I knew.

In the short film, an actress portraying a leader in the fight against guns on campus at UT-Austin is shot and killed by a burglar after she watches someone interviewing gun violence prevention advocates like myself. Then, after the actress is shot point blank, the camera pans to the wall behind her, where a Moms Demand Action sign is splattered with blood.

Since the video came out, I’ve considered my options. I’m a mom of two. And while I want to fight tooth and nail against the men who made this video to intimidate and scare gun violence prevention volunteers like me, I must put my kids’ safety first. It’s a careful balance. What I’ve realized, however, is that I can’t stay silent.

Groups like Open Carry Texas, and their ally, Come and Take It Texas, which claimed responsibility for making this video, represent the extreme fringe of this debate. And for too long, these radical activist groups have been the loudest voices at the statehouse in Austin, pushing through a dangerous agenda of guns everywhere at any time with no questions asked.
These groups have relatively few supporters, but their sway in the statehouse makes them a serious threat to the safety of everyday Texans, who overwhelmingly believe responsible gun ownership and common-sense public safety laws go hand in hand.

In recent years, many Texas legislators have been beholden not just to the gun lobby, but to extremists like these two groups who threaten anyone who speaks up for common sense gun safety laws. These groups target women with particularly violent venom.

Representatives from groups like Open Carry Texas and Come and Take It Texas have shown up at Moms Demand Action meetings armed with rifles. They’ve sent us videos of their supporters firing rounds into female mannequins. And now, extremists have taken the time to create a short film in which a Moms Demand Action supporter is shot and our logo is part of a bloody crime scene.

We cannot pretend that this is a matter of pro-gun versus anti-gun. For one thing, everyone in this conversation supports the Second Amendment. What’s more, one side of this debate issues thinly-veiled bloody threats while Moms Demand Action volunteers meet with lawmakers and host lemonade stands for gun sense. There is no equivalency in this debate.

The vast majority of gun owners support common-sense gun laws, and I suspect that most of them would be just as horrified as I am that the people who claim to be their voice in the statehouse are such a radical, threatening group.

I hope that any legislators who watch this video will consider the history of threats and violence against gun safety advocates in our state. I hope they ask themselves how they’d feel if it was their mother, wife, sister or daughter portrayed in this misogynistic and menacing film. And I hope they’ll disavow the reckless legislative agenda being pushed by Open Carry Texas and their allies — which is out of step with the vast majority of Texans.

Just two months ago in Dallas, we saw firsthand the effects of our lax gun laws in action. After five law enforcement officers were shot and killed, Dallas’ Police Chief acknowledged in interviews that our state’s open carry laws made law enforcement’s job more difficult in the minutes and hours following that terrifying shooting.

There’s no doubt that advocates of gun violence prevention will work closely with law enforcement when the Texas legislature begins its 2017 session. We have to be more persuasive than the extremists, who have already announced that they want to put guns in sensitive areas such as bars, as well as dismantle the handgun carry permitting system – meaning that a permit would no longer be required to carry a loaded handgun in public.

We must do everything in our power to stop these bills and make sure legislators know that groups like Open Carry Texas do not stand for all Texas gun owners. Responsible gun owners must make their voices heard. Parents must make our voices heard.

There is so much more we must do to make Texas safer for our kids. No longer can we let the scariest voices in Texas be the ones nestled closest to our lawmakers.

Keown is a volunteer leader with the Texas chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America — which is a part of Everytown for Gun Safety — and a mother of two.

Pro-gun activists help make the case against guns

Because they spoke out against gun culture, our activists have been subjected to a nonstop barrage of threats and sexist, racist, anti-semitic, Islamophobic, homophobic, transphobic comments. When rabid gun fanatics can’t win an argument, they resort to threats and publicly daydreaming and laughing about the rape and murder of their detractors. In a true demonstration of brains vs. brawn, they have claimed over and over that the only way they’ll be proven “right” is if we get hurt. They apparently can’t wait for it to happen, because today they used the likeness of our activists to play out these murder fantasies in a violent video, to try to scare us into silence. They’re spamming our walls with it, and offering their condolences for our “murdered” colleague.

They’re determined to put their violent machinations and embarrassingly backwards, fear mongering, victim blaming attitudes on public display in order to prove to us exactly why these people shouldn’t be making the rules for how universities are run. We don’t mind amplifying that message, and helping them with that goal. [CW: murder, robbery, blood, gun violence]. Remember, these people keep saying that we “deserve” this, just for speaking out against gun culture. If you don’t think gun culture has a chilling effect on free speech on campus, think again.

— Jessica Jin,  Cocks not Glocks

Armed with Reason