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US judge rejects academic plea to ban guns in university classes

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Gun activists march close to the University of Texas in Austin (file photo)

A US district judge has rejected a motion by a group of University of Texas professors to block a law that allows students carry guns in their classrooms.

Under the new law, which was introduced earlier this month, allowed handgun license holders aged 21 and older bring their concealed handguns into classrooms and other facilities on the roughly 50,000-student campus.

The professors tried to ban the so-called “campus carry” law on the grounds that it harms academic freedom.

The professors also argued that young people who are experiencing the college life should not be given access to guns as it would be a recipe for disaster.

District Judge Lee Yeakel, however, denied them the motion, saying the academics "have failed to establish a substantial likelihood of ultimate success on the merits of their asserted claims.”

"It appears to the court that neither the Texas Legislature nor the (university's) Board of Regents has overstepped its legitimate power to determine where a licensed individual may carry a concealed handgun in an academic setting," Yeakel noted.

Students of the University of Texas protest the so-called campus carry law

Supporters of the law argue that it could prevent mass shootings on the campus. This is while, higher education officials have voiced concern that it will discourage students from attending universities across Texas.

“There is simply no legal justification to deny licensed, law-abiding citizens on campus the same measure of personal protection they are entitled to elsewhere in Texas,” Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is a Republican, said in a statement.

The professors also feared that the presence of armed students would force them alter their classroom presentations on controversial issues such as reproductive rights to prevent possible violence.

On August 1, 1966, the University of Texas in Austin witnessed one of the deadliest mass shootings in the country’s history, when student Charles Whitman killed 16 people in a rampage, gunning them down firing from a perch atop a clock tower on the campus.

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