Category Archives: press release

Politicians must follow process outlined in SB11 allowing Universities to decide where guns belong on campus


Downloadable file: GFUT press Nov. 25


AUSTIN, TX, November 25, 2015 — Following a unanimous vote by UT-Austin’s Faculty Council to oppose concealed firearms in classrooms and other educational spaces,  Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury), lead author of SB11, has asked Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to review key aspects of the law. At stake is whether public university presidents around Texas may designate many, if not most, campus buildings as gun-free.

“The law is clear; Sen. Birdwell wrote it,” says Bryan D. Jones, the J.J. “Jake” Pickle Chair in Congressional Studies at UT-Austin and a prominent member of Gun-Free UT. “He and the Attorney General should follow the processes set out in the law, as well as those governing the university.”

Known as Campus Carry, SB11 requires public universities to allow concealed firearms into buildings, grounds and transport vehicles.  In a letter to the Attorney General, Birdwell claims that the law was written to allow concealed handguns “everywhere” on campus, and asks Paxton to issue an opinion on how universities should implement the law in advance of their own determinations.

As written, the law requires university presidents to consult “with students, staff, and faculty” to establish “reasonable rules, regulations, or other provisions” for bringing concealed firearms on campuses, as long as those rules don’t “generally prohibit or have the effect of generally prohibiting” license holders from carrying concealed guns on campus.  University Presidents or CEOs must also consider “the nature of the student population, specific safety considerations, and the uniqueness of the campus environment.”

In recent weeks, legal experts and politicians have weighed in on this issue and determined that the law, as written, gives university presidents wide latitude in determining which campus buildings can be gun-free zones. This latitude was, in fact, an eleventh-hour addition that allowed the law to pass.

A memorandum produced by legal counsel for Gun-Free UT notes that legal precedents don’t equate partial or complete restrictions of guns in academic buildings with a general prohibition on guns. The memo also notes that the University’s Handbook of Operating Procedures mandates that “policies pertaining to the general academic and welfare [of the university] must be approved by the University’s Faculty Council or its General Faculty, or both.”

“No constituency of the University wants guns in university buildings,” says Max Snodderly, professor of Neuroscience and Nutritional Sciences at UT-Austin.  “Students don’t want them, faculty don’t want them, staff don’t want them, and parents don’t want them. The president and the chancellor don’t want them. Who exactly does Birdwell represent?”

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Gun-Free UTwas founded in August 2015 by faculty, students, staff, parents and alumni from UT-Austin following the passage of Senate Bill 11. Since then, Gun-Free UT has become a statewide movement, garnering national and international attention. Thousands at UT campuses from El Paso to the Rio Grande Valley to Tyler have joined in to fight to keep concealed firearms out of dorms, classrooms and offices.

For more information on Gun-FreeUT’s legal position, click here 

Gun-Free UT Announcement 11-9-2015

Downloadable File:  Gun-Free UT Announcement 11-9-15

AUSTIN, TX, November 9, 2015 —  Gun-Free UT will hold a rally against Campus Carry on Tuesday, November 10, from noon to 1:00pm at the West Mall on the UT-Austin campus. The event will feature live music, various speakers, including survivors of gun violence, and a special appearance by Danielle Vabner, a UT student whose brother died in the Sandy Hook massacre.

Founded in August 2015 by a handful of professors following the passage of Senate Bill 11, also known as Campus Carry, Gun-Free UT has quickly grown into a statewide movement, with thousands at UT campuses from El Paso to Tyler joining in the effort to fight the presence of concealed firearms in dorms, classrooms and offices.

At UT-Austin, the number of departments and colleges publicly opposing the law, now at 28, is growing daily. Among the latest to join the Gun-Free UT effort is the Department of Chemical Engineering. According to their public statement, “We believe that guns in classrooms, laboratories, faculty/advising offices, and collaboration spaces would be unsafe and stifle the free exchange of ideas central to a world-class university…We also fear that SB11 may damage our ability to recruit and retain the most capable students, faculty and staff.”

Beginning on August 1, 2016, Campus Carry will allow holders of concealed handgun licenses to enter any public university buildings in Texas with a concealed firearm, unless the building is officially a gun-free zone. To that end, Gun-Free UT is working to ensure safety of all students, staff and faculty by requesting that UT-Austin President Greg Fenves designate all buildings on campus as gun-free zones. As acknowledged by Steve Goode, chair of the UT Campus Carry Working Group, which is currently debating how to designate gun-free zones on campus, the vast majority of the UT community opposes Campus Carry.

Gun-Free UT is a grassroots organization of UT-Austin students, staff, faculty, parents & alumni dedicated to opposing guns on campus and to keeping them out of dorms, classrooms and offices.

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