A closer look at the new ‘Campus Carry’ law

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Dr. Malcolm Cross
Dr. Malcolm Cross

Campus Carry, like Prop 1, is a done deal—for the time being.  As with Prop 1, everyone concerned with Campus Carry must accept it as the law–with the proviso that they have the right to work within the system to either strengthen, weaken, or repeal it in the future, depending on what results it actuallly produces.

As far as the responses to my previous writings on Campus Carry, I must admit to being pleasantly surprised at their civility, especially from Campus Carry’s supporters.  But I was also a little confused by some of the responses.  For example, some supporters said Campus Carry would produce no danger because only a few students would gain the right to bring guns into the classroom—those who were 21 and had concealed handgun licenses.  For some reason, the argument that it’s safe to expand a right because few are going to use it doesn’t inspire as much confidence in me as its proponents might have liked.  Would those who made this argument still favor Campus Carry if more students could bring more guns onto campus?

But the comment I found the most intriguing was the suggestion that if the State Legislature is going to expand the Second Amendment rights of students, faculty, staff and campus visitors, it should expand their First Amendment rights as well.  Indeed—why not?  After all, one can frequently read of cases in which a school seems to infringe on freedom of religion, of speech, of the press, or of assembly.

For example, I believe that Christian students should have the right to form clubs wherein they can meet and celebrate their common faith, and that Jews, Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists, and students of other faiths—or of no faith—should have the exact same right to form their own organizations based on their respective beliefs.  But some schools require a faith-based club to operate on campus only if it opens its membership to nonbelievers, who must also be eligible for leadership positions as well.  For example, Christians may form a club only if they are willing to admit, say, atheists, and permit them to become leaders, while a Jewish club must admit Muslims who likewise may attain leadership roles.

On other campuses a student or faculty member or commencement speaker may find himself persecuted for expressing beliefs deemed “politically incorrect,” or otherwise insensitive.  For example:

  • The teaching of classical Greek Mythology is being challenged at Columbia University on the grounds that students may become too emotionally distraught over tales of Hercules, the Trojan War, or Jason and the Argonauts and their quest for the Golden Fleece (http://reason.com/blog/2015/05/12/trigger-warning-mythology ). 
  • Brandeis University, named for the first Jew to sit on the United States Supreme Court, last year  retracted an invitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali to speak and receive an honorary degree since Ms. Ali’s opposition to the forced genital mutilation of women, as well as the “honor” killing of women, were considered offensive to Muslims.
  • A few years ago Tarleton prohibited students in a drama class from performing scenes from “Corpus Christi,” a play which, according to Wikipedia , “depict[ed] Jesus and the Apostles as gay men living in modern-day Texas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corpus_Christi_(play)” for fear of violence from “Christians” offended by its themes (for what it’s worth, I think the students should have been allowed to perform their play as a classroom exercise, the interested should have been allowed to see it, the indignant should have been allowed to peacefully protest it, and the apathetic should have been allowed to ignore it).

The First Amendment is well-named because it enshrines our most basic and necessary rights to debate, discuss, support, and oppose the most important issues of the day.  Without the ability to discuss our differences peacefully, we have no recourse save forced submission or violent resistance.  So let’s make sure we preserve, on campus and throughout society, our First Amendment freedoms, as well as others in the Bill of Rights, yet which are threatened on campus as well.  So…Texas lawmakers?

To be continued next week…

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