A professor at the University of Texas reportedly won’t return to teach next fall because of his fears over the state’s campus carry law – which makes it legal for some residents to carry concealed firearms into college classrooms.
The Austin American-Statesman reports Professor Emeritus Daniel S. Hamermesh has taught Introductory Microeconomics at the university for more than 20 years. He told the newspaper he would feel more comfortable if the class size was smaller, but because it was so large he would be unable to tell if a certain student was disgruntled or had mental health issues.
"With a huge group of students my perception is that the risk that a disgruntled student might bring a gun into the classroom and start shooting at me has been substantially enhanced by the concealed-carry law," he wrote in a letter to the Daily Texan, the school’s student newspaper.
"Out of self-protection I have chosen to spend part of next Fall at the University of Sydney, where, among other things, this risk seems lower."
Hamermesh is believed to be the first teacher to leave the school over the law. Other teachers have threatened to leave, but have not followed through as of yet. He told the American-Statesman he doesn’t believe teachers will leave in droves, but added the new law doesn’t make Texas an attractive school to prospective teachers.
“This is the flagship school of Texas, but it affects hiring across the state,” Hamermesh said. “It’s recruitment that’s the issue.”
The Houston Chronicle reports the new campus carry law gives school officials leeway to determine if some parts of campus should be deemed gun-free zones. Schools across the state are debating where firearms should be allowed, the newspaper reports.
The American-Statesman reports the university has hosted two community forums on the matter of campus carry and is working on how to implement the new law, which goes into effect on Aug. 1.
According to the newspaper, the law allows schools to set its own limitations, but cannot ban firearms from campus altogether. The University of Texas created a 19-member board that will recommend policies to the school’s System of Board Regents in December.