AUSITN (KXAN) — A Nobel laureate in Physics at the University of Texas at Austin says he wants to ban guns in his class and he’ll take on a lawsuit after the new “campus carry” law becomes reality August 1, 2016. Just this week, Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg announced he’ll ban guns in his class and be the test case to take it to court.
“I’m willing by my own action to expose myself to a lawsuit in this. Let’s have it heard,” said Weinberg.
Weinberg won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1979 and the National Medal of Science in 1991, making him one of the most influential and prestigious faculty members at the University of Texas at Austin.
This comes at a time when UT-Austin faculty and staff need support in their effort to keep guns out of their classrooms. UT System Chancellor Bill McRaven told Texas lawmakers Tuesday he expects to be sued over the new “campus carry” law. He was a strong voice against the law. Now his message to students and faculty is to do what lawmakers say.
“The system’s guidance to the campuses has been straightforward. Follow the law,” said McRaven.
The senate committee is charged to make sure universities don’t deviate from the plan, allowing CHL holders to bring guns into college classrooms.
“Clearly it’s not going smoothly. There’s a lot of opposition to the law. Maybe not at every university, but certainly at UT Austin,” said Joan Neuberger from Gun Free UT, an activist group born to stop the incoming Texas law. The group has organized teach-ins, protests and has threatened legal action, because they claim campus carry would violate their first amendment rights in the classroom.
“Students have come up to us all year long, terrified of what the classroom is going to be like,” Neuberger told lawmakers.
“As I said, we’re not here to debate the merits of the law. The law is the law. It’s been passed and signed by the governor,” said Senator Joan Huffman, R-Houston. She says despite the protests from UT faculty and students, she’ll make sure campus carry is implemented.
“I understand the opposition. It was there. They testified last session and the bill passed,” said Sen. Huffman.
Lawmakers at the hearing made clear to university leaders that students who choose to carry cannot be singled out in class, in any way.
Next, the President of UT Austin plans to weigh in on where guns should be allowed on campus. Last month, a group of faculty members, students and parents submitted their recommendations to President Greg Fenves.
Next month, he will submit the list of rules he wants for the UT system. After that, the Board of Regents has to approve all plans by May. The law takes effect August 1. Before the “working group” came out with their recommendations, we have learned thousands of people shared their views. Three thousand and three hundred people commented online and each was read. Dozens of people spoke at two public forums that hundreds attended. UT says a “very substantial majority” of the people who gave their input are opposed to the law or don’t like it.