Controversies

Texas attorney general says professors face discipline if they ban guns

FILE - In this Oct. 1, 2015 file photo in Austin, Texas, protestors gather on the West Mall of the University of Texas campus to oppose a new state law that expands the rights of concealed handgun license holders to carry their weapons on public college campuses and as of Aug. 1, 2016, they can carry in campus buildings.

FILE - In this Oct. 1, 2015 file photo in Austin, Texas, protestors gather on the West Mall of the University of Texas campus to oppose a new state law that expands the rights of concealed handgun license holders to carry their weapons on public college campuses and as of Aug. 1, 2016, they can carry in campus buildings.  (Ralph Barrera/Austin American-Statesman via AP, File)

College professors in Texas could face disciplinary measures if they prohibit handguns to be brought into their classrooms, state Attorney General Ken Paxton said Monday.

Paxton filed a motion this week to dismiss a federal lawsuit brought last month by three professors at the University of Texas at Austin seeking to block the campus carry law, which took effect Aug.1.

Texas has allowed licensed concealed handguns in public since 1995 but had previously made college buildings off limits.

"Faculty members are aware that state law provides that guns can be carried on campus, and that the president has not made a rule excluding them from classrooms," attorneys representing the university and Paxton wrote in the legal brief. "As a result, any individual professor who attempts to establish such prohibition is subject to discipline."

According to the Dallas Morning News, the three professors – Mia Carter, Jennifer Glass and Lisa Moore – are asking a judge to put the law on hold arguing that the law is too vague for them to know if and how they might be punished if armed students are kept out of their classrooms.

The professors are asking a judge to halt the law for at least one semester in order to hold a public trial on whether the campus carry law violates their constitution rights to free speech and equal protection.

Paxton’s lawyers contend that the law is clear and gives the universities’ presidents the ability to designate each school’s limited gun-free zones. The lawyers go on to say that If classrooms aren’t expressly included in their campuses policy to prohibit handguns, then firearms must be allowed in the rooms.

The paper reported that the judge’s decision to grant the professors’ request to halt the law could come later this week. However, the judge acknowledged that by granting their request could start a slippery slope that would allow every public university in the state an excuse to ban guns in the classroom.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Click for more from the Dallas Morning News.