In the majority of the 4,400 universities and colleges in the US, it’s illegal to carry a concealed weapon. But pressure from an extreme pro-gun movement is changing the landscape.
Laws in nine states now force public colleges and universities to allow guns into their campus buildings. In 2015, Texas became the most recent state to ease existing firearm regulations and allow concealed weapons on campuses.
Knowing their students are allowed to bring guns into classrooms has Texas professors raising concerns about working in a “weaponized environment” and what this means for how they teach and their safety.
“I hate to think of ‘trigger warning’ not becoming a metaphor, but becoming a reality,” Ann Cvetkovich, a professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin, told the Huffington Post. “That students who are triggered might actually pull a trigger.”
Cvetkovich is one of a number of educators who worry the new law could create a chilling effect on free speech and academic freedom in an environment where controversial topics should be discussed. She also suggests concealed carry will increase her fear factor.
“I’m a lesbian. That does not necessarily make me liked by all of my students or others, and I’m afraid for myself,” Cvetkovich said. ‘I’m afraid for my students, but also very afraid for myself.”
Various groups are calling for the repeal of the law in Texas, including Gun Free UT that has earned almost 10,000 signatures petitioning the Texas governor, and the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus.
The Texas legislation will take effect on Aug. 1, 2016.