AUSTIN, TX – In a Dec. 22 post on The Dallas Morning News‘s “Trail Blazers Blog,” journalist Tom Benning reports that the campus carry task force at Texas Tech University has proposed allowing faculty and staff to designate their offices as gun-free zones and prohibiting concealed carry at large recital halls and theaters when those venues host performances.
Students for Concealed Carry recently issued two lengthy statements (#1, #2) denouncing a similar gun-free-offices policy proposed by the campus carry working group at the University of Texas at Austin, as a violation of both the letter and intent of Texas Senate Bill 11. Subsequently, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a formal opinion stating, “No provisions within S.B. 11 authorize a president or chief executive officer to delegate this authority to individual professors, and reading S.B. 11 as a whole suggests that the Legislature did not intend to allow such piecemeal regulation of handguns on campus.”
In one area, the proposals of Texas Tech’s campus carry task force exceed those of the University of Texas at Austin’s campus carry working group—a proposed ban on licensed concealed carry at recital halls and theaters. Benning’s blog post quotes Texas Tech Provost Lawrence Schovanec, the leader of the TTU task force, as saying, “What’s so different from going to where you have volleyball game [sic] with maybe a thousand in attendance, or having a performance in a large performance hall with a similar number of people?” The fact that Schovanec even has to ask this question leads us to question whether he was the best man to lead Texas Tech’s task force.
If venue size was the Texas Legislature’s primary concern in prohibiting licensed concealed carry at high school, collegiate, and professional sporting events, why didn’t they simply prohibit concealed carry at venues seating more than 1,000 people? Why did they choose to allow concealed carry in a 50,000-seat arena when it’s hosting a concert but choose to prohibit concealed carry in that same 50,000-seat arena when it’s hosting a sporting event? The answer is obvious—the legislature believes that sporting events are fundamentally different from other large-venue events.
Stage plays, ballet recitals, and student film festivals seldom play host to intense interscholastic rivalries. The question of mixing guns with team rivalries, not the question of mixing guns with large venues, was almost certainly what prompted the Texas Legislature to prohibit licensed concealed carry at sporting events but allow it at concerts, movie theaters, municipal theaters, etc.
SCC Southwest Director Antonia Okafor noted, “UT students aren’t likely to show up at a Texas Tech production of Les Misérables with ‘Hook ’em Horns’ painted across their bare stomachs, and Tech students aren’t likely to rush the stage after a particularly good orchestra performance and tear down the lighting truss, so where does Tech’s campus carry task force get off claiming that sporting events and theatrical performances are practically the same thing?”