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Texas Students for Concealed Carry Press Releases Regarding UT-Austin's Gun-Free-Offices Policy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 12/11/2015

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of UT-Austin's Campus Carry Recommendations

AUSTIN, TX - The final report of the campus carry policy working group at the University of Texas at Austin will go down in history as simultaneously featuring some of the finest research on the subject of licensed concealed carry on college campuses and offering two of the most poorly conceived recommendations concerning the same. Although the report's factual research demonstrates the wisdom of placing professional academics in charge of researching an important sociopolitical issue, the report's recommendations demonstrate the impracticality of tasking those same academics with formulating policies regarding the appropriate utilization of firearms for self-defense.

The working group recommends that "[the] occupant of an office to which he or she has been solely assigned and that is not generally open to the public should be permitted, at the occupant’s discretion, to prohibit the concealed carry of a handgun in that office" and that "if the occupant’s duties ordinarily entail meeting people who may be license holders, the occupant must make reasonable arrangements to meet them in another location at a convenient time." This recommendation, which is clearly tailored to suit the needs of professors meeting with students during posted office hours, creates two distinct problems. The first and least of these problems is that it places any student with a concealed handgun license ("conceal" is defined, in part, as "to keep secret; to prevent or avoid disclosing or divulging") in the uncomfortable position of potentially having to inform a professor—a professor who, by declaring his or her office "gun-free," has publicly announced his or her opposition to campus carry—that the student regularly carries a gun to class. The second and much more serious problem is that it renders many faculty, staff, and students unable to carry a concealed handgun on campus at all (potentially conflicting with both the letter and intent of Texas Senate Bill 11, which states that a university's campus carry policy may not "have the effect of generally prohibiting license holders from carrying concealed handguns on the campus of the institution").

Half of the individuals (and likely a majority of the CHL holders) on the UT-Austin campus are faculty, staff, graduate research assistants, or graduate teaching assistants. The duties of a faculty member, staff member, research assistant, or teaching assistant may require entering one or more private offices multiple times each day. Given that the working group's recommended polices would also dictate that "[license] holders who carry a handgun on campus must carry it on or about their person at all times or secure their handgun in a locked, privately-owned or leased motor vehicle," any faculty member, staff member, research assistant, or teaching assistant required to enter a "gun-free" office in the course of his or her duties would be unable to carry a concealed handgun on campus. Because many in the UT- Austin community rely on the university's bus route to get to campus and because even those who drive to campus are often required to park a mile or more away and catch a bus to the office, few license holders working on campus would have the option of running to their cars to drop off their handguns between meetings.

Are these licensed faculty, staff, researchers, and teaching assistants expected to inform the occupant of a "gun-free" office—an occupant who, based on the fact that he or she has a private office, is very possibly the license holder's superior—that standard operating procedures must be changed so that the

license holder never has to enter the office? Or are these license holders expected to forgo their newly legislated right to have their preferred measure of self-defense on campus?

The working group also makes a couple of recommendations about how concealed handguns should be carried on campus. The first recommendation is that "[handguns] – including those carried in backpacks and handbags – must be carried in a holster that completely covers the trigger and the entire trigger guard area. The holster must have sufficient tension or grip on the handgun to retain it in the holster even when subjected to unexpected jostling." This recommendation aligns with the generally accepted best practices for concealed carry; therefore, no rational person can argue that such a policy is not "reasonable," per the statutory requirement of Senate Bill 11. However, the working group also recommends that "[semiautomatic] handguns must be carried without a chambered round of ammunition." This recommendation contradicts the generally accepted best practice for concealed (or open) carry. More specifically, it contradicts the method of carry taught by every shooting school, police academy, and military branch in the U.S. There is no way that this policy can be considered "reasonable" under any common definition of that term.

The reason all U.S. firearms instructors teach that semiautomatic handguns should be carried with a loaded chamber is that the number one factor in determining the outcome of a defensive shooting is the defensive shooter's ability to quickly and efficiently present his or her weapon to the target. In the context of daily carry (as opposed to a SWAT team breaking down the door of a meth lab, with their guns at the ready), this means presentation from the holster .

A review of training manuals or YouTube videos (search “presentation from the holster”) reveals slight

variations in presentation technique (draw stroke) but few, if any, techniques in which the shooter draws the weapon and then chambers a round. It’s generally accepted that—in the context of self- defense shootings, which typically happen at close range—one’s ability to quickly and cleanly present from the holster is more important than even one’s aim. Being forced to draw one’s weapon and then load the first round (a procedure that typically takes both hands) is a serious impediment to being able to quickly and cleanly present to the target. Chambering a round in the heat of battle also denies the defensive shooter an opportunity to perform a chamber check—a safety check typically performed

when loading a firearm. At close contact (any distance close enough for an assailant to grab the defender's gun), having an empty chamber can essentially render the defender's handgun useless.

In the context of campus carry, being forced to draw one’s weapon and then chamber a round (load the

chamber) forces anyone who has received any level of U.S. firearms training to completely retrain himself or herself. That means that even those CHL holders with law enforcement or military training— the people college administrators should feel most comfortable having armed on campus—will be forced to completely relearn how to perform the most critical action involved in using a handgun defensively. Texas universities should enact policies designed to help license holders perform to the peak of their abilities, not policies that turn even the most experienced shooters into neophytes.

Because most license holders would not want to carry with an empty chamber all of the time, this policy would force them to try to master (and regularly practice) two different techniques—one for on-campus carry and one for off-campus carry. Furthermore, using one technique on campus and another off campus would result in many license holders choosing to transition their weapons while in their cars parked on campus—unloading the chamber after arriving on campus and reloading it before leaving campus. From a safety standpoint, encouraging license holders to unholster and manipulate their firearms is the surest way to guarantee an eventual accidental/negligent discharge. And given that Texas

law already dictates that colleges (both public and private) "may not adopt or enforce any rule,

regulation, or other provision or take any other action

added] on the storage or transportation of a firearm or ammunition in a locked, privately owned or leased motor vehicle by a person, including a student enrolled at that institution, who holds a license to carry a concealed handgun," it’s doubtful that anything in UT-Austin's campus carry policy can prohibit a license holder from chambering or unchambering rounds in his or her parked car.

prohibiting

or placing restrictions [emphasis

From the standpoint of both the legislative intent of Texas Senate Bill 11 and the generally accepted best practices for defensive firearm use, these two recommendations of UT-Austin's campus carry policy working group fail to pass muster. They are not only bad; they are discriminatory (against those who work on campus) and dangerous (for any license holder who might actually need to utilize his or her handgun in self-defense and for anyone parked near or walking past a license holder’s car). If UT-Austin President Gregory Fenves wishes to act responsibly, he will reject these two recommendations. If he does not, the policies will almost certainly face legal challenges—challenges likely to succeed and likely to cost the university significant time and money.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 12/14/2015

Further Analysis of UT-Austin's Campus Carry Recommendations

AUSTIN, TX - This past Friday, Students for Concealed Carry released a lengthy statement (http://is.gd/TA7hPR) explaining why two of the rules proposed by the campus carry policy working group at the University of Texas at Austin are ill-conceived and contrary to both the letter and intent of the state's new campus carry law (Texas Senate Bill 11). However, even at 1,500 words, that release wasn't long enough to describe every problem inherent in those two proposals.

As detailed in SCC's previous release, the working group's proposal that university employees be allowed to designate their offices as criminally enforceable "gun-free" zones would ensure that any concealed handgun license holder required to visit a "gun-free" office as part of his or her daily duties as a university employee, research assistant, or teaching assistant would be unable to lawfully carry a concealed handgun on campus. This proposal is all the more egregious in that it would bestow upon academics a right not enjoyed by any other state employee—the right to arbitrarily criminalize licensed concealed carry on state property. UT's campus carry working group, which comprises mostly university employees, has decided that university employees are deserving of a right not granted to state agency employees, county employees, municipal employees, state legislators, or any member of the state's executive branch, including the governor and lieutenant governor.

As explained in SCC's earlier statement, the working group's proposal that any license holder carrying a semiautomatic handgun be required to carry the gun without a round in the chamber conflicts with the generally accepted best practices taught by every firearms school, police academy, and military branch in the nation. This proposal is ostensibly intended to prevent the accidental/negligent discharge of a license holder's firearm; however, not one of the U.S. college campuses that currently allow licensed concealed carry has seen an accidental/negligent discharge of a holstered firearm. In fact, such incidents are virtually unheard of anywhere.

The working group's report cites four on-campus accidental/negligent discharges, none of which involved a holstered firearm and none of which resulted in life-threatening injuries. Two of the incidents involved individuals (one a cadet at a police academy and one a staff member at a dental school) showing their weapons to classmates or coworkers. The other two involved license holders (one professor and one student) each carrying a handgun in a pants pocket, without a holster (a practice widely acknowledged by experts to be unsafe because a foreign object or finger can inadvertently engage the trigger).

The cause of the first two incidents is addressed by the state's new campus carry law, which dictates that intentionally displaying a handgun on a college campus will be a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $4,000, and a mandatory five-year revocation of the offender's license to carry a handgun. The cause of the second two incidents is addressed by the working group's proposed requirement that each handgun be carried in a holster that covers the trigger guard (a reasonable requirement that mirrors the generally accepted best practices for carrying a handgun).

Because the working group's proposed empty-chamber policy contradicts basic firearms training in order to address a concern that is already addressed in other, more reasonable ways, it is both superfluous and dangerous. In addition to the dangers listed in SCC's previous release, such a policy would greatly complicate the deployment of a license holder's handgun during an active-shooter situation. Under such circumstances, a license holder would have two choices: 1) Wait until confronted by the shooter to load the chamber, potentially denying the license holder adequate time to respond, or 2) Draw the weapon and chamber a round prior to actually encountering the shooter, potentially causing confusion among bystanders and/or first responders. Even if the license holder were hiding alone in an office, classroom, or closet, the distinctive sound of a round being loaded into the chamber of a gun could alert a gunman to the license holder's hiding place (and to the fact that the license holder is armed) or give bystanders and first responders the mistaken impression that the person hiding there is actually the gunman.

If UT's campus carry working group intended to ensure that handguns remain holstered, the group seriously erred in proposing this empty-chamber requirement. SCC's previous statement explains how this rule would almost certainly result in license holders manipulating their firearms in private automobiles parked on campus (something state law says universities can't stop license holders from doing), but there is also a legitimate concern that this policy might make license holders quicker to unholster their guns when faced with an unidentified or unconfirmed threat. A license holder who learns that a gunman has been reported nearby might be tempted to try to surreptitiously (without intentionally displaying the weapon) draw his or her handgun and chamber a round (in violation of school policy but not state law) so as to better prepare himself or herself to respond to a threat. Such an action would greatly increase the odds of an accidental/negligent discharge, a dangerous misunderstanding (i.e., the license holder being mistaken for the reported gunman), or both. In short, the working group's proposed empty-chamber rule has the potential to turn a false alarm into a tragedy.

Most of the policies proposed by UT's campus carry working group are reasonable and in keeping with both the letter and intent of Texas Senate Bill 11. However, the gun-free-offices provision and the empty-chamber provision are neither reasonable nor in keeping with the law. Supporters of the law will spare no effort or expense to see those provisions struck down.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 12/22/2015

Students for Concealed Carry Statement on Opinion of Texas Attorney General

AUSTIN, TX - Students for Concealed Carry is grateful to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton for his commitment to preserving the integrity of the state's new campus carry law; however, we feel that the media is focusing on the wrong aspect of the attorney general’s recently issued opinion on the matter.

In the wake of Attorney General Paxton's official opinion, issued Dec. 21 in response to a request by Senator Brian Birdwell, author of the campus carry law, the media has fixated on the portion of the

opinion that states, "If an institution placed a prohibition on handguns in the institution's residential

facilities

handguns on campus, in violation of S.B. 11."

it

would effectively prohibit license holders in those facilities from carrying concealed

SCC agrees with that opinion; however, our research and calculations suggest that any policy regulating licensed concealed carry by dorm residents will affect no more than a half-dozen license holders on any given campus, including the state's largest universities. Furthermore, the campus carry working group at the University of Texas at Austin has shown that campus carry policies can be drafted in such a way as to address the unique security concerns posed by dorms but not create an outright "prohibition on handguns in the institution's residential facilities."

The policy proposed by the UT-Austin working group would apply only to dorms, not on-campus apartments; would apply only to dorm rooms, not the common areas of residential halls; would apply primarily to dorm residents and staff, not visiting families; and would allow a licensed staff member living in a university dorm to keep a handgun in his or her dorm room as long as the gun is locked in a gun safe (there are many quick-access gun safes available). It is the opinion of SCC that all that is need to bring this policy into compliance with the law is to develop a safe-storage system for the tiny handful of licensed students who live in dorms (e.g., allowing them to store their guns at the university police headquarters, as many universities around the country already do).

With that said, we believe that Attorney General Paxton's opinion does cast serious doubt on another policy proposed by the UT-Austin working group. Responding to Senator Birdwell's question as to whether a university could allow individual professors to designate individual classrooms as gun-free zones, the attorney general writes, "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." SCC believes that this opinion casts serious doubt on the working group's proposal that "[the] occupant of an office to which the occupant has been solely assigned and that is not generally open to the public should be permitted, at the occupant’s discretion, to prohibit the concealed carry of a handgun in that office."

SCC has repeatedly (EXAMPLE 1, EXAMPLE 2) argued that UT-Austin's proposed gun-free-offices policy would violate both the letter and intent of Texas Senate Bill 11, and we feel that Attorney General Paxton's opinion corroborates our position. We now hope to see Senator Birdwell or another state official request an attorney general opinion on whether the law permits a university to require that a semiautomatic handgun carried by a license holder on campus be carried with an unloaded chamber, as would be mandated by the policies proposed by the UT-Austin working group. We believe that this proposed empty-chamber policy, like the proposed gun-free-offices policy, would violate both the letter and intent of SB 11.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 01/27/2016

Jan. 26, 2016, Testimony of SCC Southwest Director Antonia Okafor, Before the Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs

My name is Antonia Okafor. I am a graduate student at the University of Texas at Dallas, and I am here in my capacity as the southwest regional director for Students for Concealed Carry.

Madam Chair and members of the committee, I want to thank you for holding this hearing and for offering me the opportunity to testify about the various ways in which the campus carry law is being implemented at Texas's many universities. As I reference various proposed policies, please bear in mind that, because some universities have not yet made their policy drafts public, some of this information is based on preliminary media reports and may not accurately reflect the final drafts.

My organization respects that university presidents and system chancellors have a difficult task in implementing this new law, and we commend institutions such as the University of Texas at Tyler and Texas State University for addressing legitimate concerns while respecting the clear intent of the law.

Unfortunately, a handful of universities are considering policies that would undermine the intent and, in some cases, the very letter of the legislation signed by Governor Abbott.

The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston wants to prohibit concealed carry in 80% of its buildings, despite the fact that only 9% of its buildings are used for patient care. The handout we provided you in advance of this meeting includes a copy of the campus carry map created by the UTMB campus carry committee. On it you'll see that—not counting parking structures, where the university has no authority to ban concealed carry—the committee recommends prohibiting concealed carry in 135 of its 170 buildings. Just fifteen of those 170 buildings are identified as being used for patient care.

UTMB even wants to ban concealed carry in its medical library because the library houses a collection of rare documents and antique microscopes that they believe could be damaged by gunfire. We at SCC do not believe that the legislators who concluded that licensed concealed carry can be safely allowed near students would agree that it cannot be safely allowed near rare artifacts. If that were the case, concealed carry would surely be prohibited at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum or even here in the Texas Capitol. More significantly, we believe that prohibiting licensed concealed carry on more than three-quarters of a campus clearly violates the law's prohibition against rules or regulations that "have the effect of generally prohibiting license holders from carrying concealed handguns on the campus."

Both the University of North Texas and Texas Tech University want to prohibit concealed carry at large venues that host events such as performances of the performing arts. This means that a license holder attending a play at UNT or Texas Tech would be denied the same right he or she enjoys when visiting a movie theater in Denton or Lubbock. We do not think it is reasonable to claim that the size of the venue necessitates prohibiting licensed concealed carry at a performance of a university choir or symphony, given that concealed carry is already allowed at countless musical and theatrical performances throughout the state, including at the Austin City Limits Music Festival, which each year attracts a crowd twice the size of Lubbock's total population and four times the size of Denton's total population.

The ACL Music Festival also serves as a strong rebuttal to UNT's proposal that the university president be allowed to ban concealed carry campus wide for up to seven days when the university hosts a large- scale event involving the presence of alcohol. We believe that proposals such as these have less to do with the uniqueness of the campus environment than with task force members not understanding how licensed concealed carry is managed throughout the rest of the state.

This problem of being unfamiliar with and perhaps even paranoid about concealed carry is also demonstrated by several universities suggesting that concealed carry be banned at student recreation centers because, in their view, license holders cannot be trusted to keep their handguns concealed while working out. This proposal ignores the fact that license holders manage to exhibit sound judgment regarding when and when not to carry handguns at private health clubs; the fact that recreation centers are largely staffed by men and women whose jobs require them to wear business casual attire, not tank tops or swimsuits; and the fact that many of these facilities include student lounges, meeting rooms, and other non-athletic venues.

SCC is particularly concerned that both Texas Tech and the University of Texas at Austin want to let occupants of private offices designate their offices as criminally enforceable “gun-free” zones. Because the duties of a faculty member, staff member, research assistant, or teaching assistant may require entering one or more private offices multiple times each day, this policy would leave many license holders unable to carry on campus at all.

Consider, for example, an I.T. technician who must troubleshoot computers in numerous offices, a teaching assistant who must visit a professor's office multiple times a day, or a research assistant who must coordinate with professors and graduate students in a half-dozen private offices? If, as the University of Texas has proposed, license holders are prohibited from leaving a handgun in a desk drawer or unattended backpack, how are these license holders supposed to accommodate an ever- changing patchwork of "gun-free" offices? Given that most license holders on campus are likely to be faculty, staff, or graduate students, a policy that renders many if not most faculty, staff, and graduate students unable to lawfully carry on campus must be viewed as a general prohibition.

Furthermore, why should employees of state colleges be the only state employees with the authority to arbitrarily criminalize licensed concealed carry in their offices? Licensed concealed carry is currently allowed in every office in this building. We at SCC do not think it reasonable for an employee of a state university to have more authority over licensed concealed carry than does a county clerk, a municipal waste management supervisor, or even a Texas legislator.

Finally, the most egregious policy proposal comes from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. They recommend that any license holder carrying a semiautomatic handgun on campus be required to carry the handgun with an unloaded chamber. This proposal would require license holders to use an inferior carry method in which very few of them are trained.

Included with the handout we provided you are statements from highly qualified and, in some cases, world-renowned firearms instructors, denouncing this proposed empty-chamber policy. Also included are a couple of SCC's recent press releases, which go into greater detail about the many problems inherent to such a policy.

The short explanation is that requiring a semiautomatic handgun to be carried with an empty chamber would minimize and, in some cases, completely negate the handgun's usefulness in a self-defense scenario. Furthermore, requiring this method of carry would render useless most training received from a civilian shooting school, a police academy, or the U.S. military. After months of heated debates about whether or not license holders have adequate training to carry guns on college campuses, this policy would turn even the most well-trained license holders into neophytes.

Additionally, this policy would create a whole new set of risks. For example, license holders unhappy with the minimal protection offered by a half-loaded gun would almost certainly drive to campus with the chamber loaded and then sit in their cars in the university parking lot, where the university has no authority to regulate concealed carry, and remove the live round from the chamber—a process much more likely to result in an accidental or negligent discharge than is anything a license holder would normally do during the course of a day. Then, at the end of the day, those same license holders would use the concealment of their cars to reload the chamber before driving home.

Conversely, license holders who walk or ride the bus to campus would be forced to use this inferior method of carry during their commutes. That means that a graduate student who encounters an assailant while walking home would have to rely on a half-loaded handgun for protection.

One of the most perplexing things about this proposed policy is the distinction it draws between semiautomatic handguns and revolvers. Both a double-action revolver and a double-action semiautomatic require roughly the same amount of pressure to pull the trigger, and both fire a round when the trigger is pulled; therefore, this policy seems to indicate an inadequate understanding of modern firearms.

The proposal that license holders carry guns with empty chambers is presumably aimed at preventing accidental or negligent discharges; however, simply requiring every handgun to be kept in a holster that covers the trigger guard is all that is needed to prevent a negligent discharge. This proposed empty- chamber policy is not just unnecessary; it is dangerous and counterproductive on virtually every front. We at SCC cannot conceive of any justification by which this policy could be considered "reasonable."

In conclusion, Students for Concealed Carry believes that the Texas Legislature should clarify the scope and intent of the "reasonable rules" university presidents are authorized to make. We suggest that the legislature study the rules proposed by the various universities, codify those that make sense, and statutorily prohibit those that do not.

Again, I thank the committee for offering me the opportunity to speak, and I'll be happy to take any questions at this time.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 03/31/2016

The University of Texas System Should Take a Lesson from Texas Tech

AUSTIN, TX - The board of regents of the University of Texas System would do well to heed the actions of Texas Tech University, which—on the advice of legal counsel—overruled a proposed policy that would have allowed faculty, staff, and graduate students to designate their offices as "gun-free" zones.

Both Texas Tech's campus carry task force and UT-Austin's campus carry policy working group recommended that occupants be allowed to prohibit licensed concealed carry in privately held offices. However, whereas UT-Austin President Gregory Fenves chose to adopt the proposed policy, officials at Texas Tech recognized that such a policy would violate the state’s campus carry law.

Reporting for KAMC News in Lubbock, reporter Alyssa Goard writes:

[Interim Texas Tech] President [John] Opperman explained that after [TTU's campus carry task force] released preliminary recommendations in December, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued several opinions arguing that it would be illegal to ban guns from classrooms, faculty offices, and dorms.

"Offices can't be gun free---in the AG opinion was part of the factor there because the same rationale the attorney general used for classrooms applies to offices as well, so offices cannot be excluded," Opperman said.

While Paxton's opinions are not legally binding, Opperman said that TTU's general counsel advised the university to structure their policies keeping Paxton's opinions in mind. TTU's general counsel believed that Paxton's arguments would hold up in a court of law. The university has been seeking legal advice, bracing for the inevitable litigation that will spark related to the campus carry law.

As Students for Concealed Carry (SCC) has explained in multiple press releases and in invited testimony before the Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs, allowing faculty, staff, and graduate students to arbitrarily create a patchwork of criminally enforceable “gun-free” zones would violate both the letter and intent of Texas Senate Bill 11.

The law says that any campus carry policies approved by a university president must be "reasonable" and cannot "have the effect of generally prohibiting license holders from carrying concealed handguns on the campus."

Allowing occupants of private offices to designate those offices as criminally enforceable "gun-free" zones would have the net effect of making it impossible for many if not most faculty, staff, and graduate students—the members of the university community most likely to hold a license to carry a concealed handgun—to lawfully carry concealed handguns on campus, because their positions often require them to enter one or more private offices on a daily basis. Prohibiting campus carry by the segment of the population most likely to take advantage of the law cannot be viewed as anything less than a general prohibition.

Furthermore, SB 11 requires universities to "widely distribute the rules, regulations, or other provisions" created by the university president—a requirement that will be difficult, nay impossible, to fulfill if any occupant of any private office can declare that office "gun-free" at any time.

Requiring license holders to explain that they cannot lawfully enter a specific office would force them to self-identify to colleagues, employers, and/or instructors, which is in clear conflict with the Texas Legislature's efforts to protect the identities of license holders. Such a policy would also make university employees the only state employees authorized to arbitrarily criminalize licensed concealed carry in

their workspace. Given this policy’s clear conflict with legislative precedent, it cannot be viewed as "reasonable" under any standard definition of that word.

UT-Austin's gun-free-offices policy is one of two university-approved campus carry policies—along with UT-Austin's empty-chamber policy—likely to face legal challenges this fall. It is a clear violation of both the letter and intent of Texas' new campus carry law, and Students for Concealed Carry will not rest until the policy is struck down.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 04/11/2016

Students for Concealed Carry's Statement on the Murder at UT-Austin

AUSTIN, TX – The recent murder of a female undergraduate on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin serves as a tragic reminder that college campuses, though typically safe, do play host to every form of violent crime found throughout the rest of society. No matter how much we want to believe that universities are safe spaces shielded from the dangers of the "real world," the truth is that the only thing separating most campuses from the rest of the world is a sidewalk. And as we saw at UT-Austin, that sidewalk can be crossed at any time, without warning.

Anti-campus carry activists who harp on the fact that college campuses are statistically very safe (typically on par with affluent neighborhoods in the same city) presuppose that a holder of a license to carry (LTC) a handgun should only carry a gun in places where violent crime is likely. However, like most reasonable people, LTC holders generally avoid places where violence is likely. They choose to carry handguns in case violence finds them some place where they had no reason to expect it, such as at a movie theater, a restaurant, or even a college campus.

The trained, licensed, carefully screened adults (age 21 and above) who regularly carry concealed handguns in presumably safe locations such as shopping malls, churches, libraries, museums, and even the Texas Capitol are the same ones who'll soon be authorized to carry concealed handguns on Texas college campuses. However, UT-Austin President Gregory Fenves and the university's campus carry policy working group have crafted policies that, in conflict with the intent of the campus carry law passed by the Texas Legislature, will leave LTC holders less able to defend themselves on the University of Texas campus than in most other places throughout the state.

Imagine that you're a 22-year-old woman walking back to your car after studying late at the UT library. As you reach for your car door, a man lunges from the shadows and grabs your other arm. Your adrenaline surges, and your mind goes to the concealed handgun tucked into your waistband. As the man twists your arm and tries to force you to the ground, your free hand grabs the gun. You draw it just

as his free hand draws a knife from his pocket. You point the gun at your assailant, squeeze the trigger,

and

second to chamber a round, you'd need both hands free to do so.

CLICK.

Per UT-Austin's campus carry policy, your gun's chamber is empty. Even if you had an extra

Now imagine that you're a female university employee walking through that same garage when a man with a knife steps out in front of you. Your first instinct is to reach for the secret handgun pocket built into the side of your purse, but it's empty. Because you're never sure when your job will require you to visit an office that the occupant has declared "gun-free," you're seldom able to carry your gun on

campus. According to state law, you have the right to carry a concealed handgun on campus, but thanks to university policy, you enjoy that right in name only.

The recent tragedy at UT-Austin should serve as a wakeup call to university administrators who seek to handicap LTC holders on campus. Antonia Okafor, Southwest regional director for Students for Concealed Carry, commented, "The senselessness of this heinous crime reaffirms that we can't try to predict when and where violence will strike. For that reason, vetted, licensed adults should enjoy the same measure of personal protection on campus that they already enjoy virtually everywhere else."

Student for Concealed Carry extends its deepest condolences to the family and friends of the young woman murdered at UT-Austin. In deference to her family's statement that "the last thing she would want is to be the poster child for any cause," we have refrained from using her name in this release.

RELATED:

"In wake of death, UT confronts questions of security" (Austin American-Statesman):

"Dangers of Waller Creek Where University of Texas-Austin Student Was Killed Long Known" (Patch.com): http://patch.com/texas/downtownaustin/dangers-waller-creek-where-university-texas- austin-was-killed-long-known

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 04/27/2016

Another Pitfall of "Gun-Free" University Offices

AUSTIN, TX - UT-Austin’s suggestion that CHL/LTC-holding students will have to make special arrangements to meet with professors who choose to have “gun-free” offices seems particularly dubious in light of this op-ed by a California professor who admits to having second thoughts about writing a letter of recommendation for a student after recalling that the student is a gun owner:

It seems that perhaps the legal counsel and university presidents at Texas Tech and Texas A&M had good reason to reject similar proposals. It also seems that the students, faculty, and staff who support Texas’s new campus carry law may have good reason to keep their views to themselves.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 05/03/2016

Campus Carry Policy Could Cost UT-Austin $17 Million per Day

AUSTIN, TX - If students and parents think tuition at the University of Texas at Austin is too high now, wait until the university's operating costs increase by $17 million per day—or just over $6.2 billion per year—as a result of the institution's refusal to abide by the state's new campus carry law.

By ignoring the opinion of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and proceeding with a plan to allow occupants of privately held university offices to designate those offices as "gun-free" zones, UT-Austin President Gregory Fenves has positioned the university to incur fines of $10,000 per day, per "gun-free" office, under Texas' "wrongful exclusion" law. Now that more than 1,700 UT-Austin faculty members are pledging to refuse to allow campus carry, that adds up to enough fines to bankrupt even America's sixth- largest university.

Under the wrongful exclusion law, which took effect September 1, the Office of the Attorney General is tasked with investigating and litigating complaints regarding state agencies unlawfully prohibiting the licensed carry of handguns on state property. In light of the attorney general's December 21 opinion stating, "No provisions within [the campus carry law] authorize a president or chief executive officer to delegate this authority [to create gun-free zones] 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," there is little doubt that the Office of the Attorney General will find UT-Austin's "gun-free" offices to be a violation of the law.

UT-Austin's campus carry policy working group may have had the wrongful exclusion law in mind when they wrote, "We recommend that an office occupant must give oral rather than written notice." The committee claims that this recommendation is intended to prevent the proliferation of unsightly signs; however, the easiest way for a professor to give notice to students would be to include written notice in the class syllabus. The sole advantage of requiring oral notice seems to be that it makes proving that license holders are being wrongfully excluded from an office much more difficult for complainants. Fortunately for proponents of campus carry, the wrongful exclusion law does not require written notice.

The wrongful exclusion law states, "A state agency

described by Section 30.06, Penal Code." Texas Penal Code Section 30.06 states, “[A] person receives notice if the owner of the property or someone with apparent authority to act for the owner provides notice [that entry on the property by a license holder with a concealed handgun is forbidden,] to the person by oral or written communication."

may

not provide notice by a communication

Antonia Okafor, Southwest regional director for Students for Concealed Carry, noted, "SCC is already working on a variety of plans to document incidents of wrongful exclusion on the UT-Austin campus. One of the proposals we're considering is the offering of a cash prize to the student who documents the most verifiable cases of faculty or staff prohibiting licensed concealed carry in offices."

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 05/05/2016

UT-Austin Thinks University Employees Are Above All Other State Employees

AUSTIN, TX - Texas law has long prohibited state employees from arbitrarily criminalizing the licensed concealed carry of handguns in their offices; however, beginning August 1, employees of the state's flagship university intend to play by their own rules, regardless of what lawmakers, the attorney general, or anyone else thinks.

Every employee of the State of Texas, from the person who processed your driver's license application to the governor himself, is required to abide by Texas law regarding where licensed concealed carry is and isn't allowed. Unless a state employee works in one of the very few locations where licensed concealed carry is statutorily prohibited, he or she cannot prohibit it in his or her office. On this point the law is quite cleara state employee must honor a state-issued license to carry (LTC). However, Gregory Fenves, president of the University of Texas at Austin, apparently didn't get that memo.

President Fenves believes that, unlike the 181 members of the Texas Legislature and the members of Texas' executive branch, the faculty and staff at the University of Texas at Austin should not be required to allow concealed carry in their private offices. President Fenves has decided that, despite a warning from the Texas attorney general that doing so would violate state law, he will allow faculty and staff to arbitrarily create criminally enforceable "gun-free" zones on the UT-Austin campus.

Students for Concealed Carry (SCC) has repeatedly made the case that creating a patchwork of "gun- free" offices will prohibit many if not most LTC-holding faculty and staff from carrying concealed handguns on the UT-Austin campus. Recently, SCC even pointed out that if a court of law concurs with the opinion of the Office of the Attorney General, the university's gun-free-offices policy could cost the University of Texas System millions of dollars in civil penalties. Not surprisingly, the media completely ignored SCC's points about why the policy is bad and how it could cost the university financially and focused exclusively on the fact that SCC is considering offering a cash prize to the student who contributes the most evidence to SCC's legal case against the university.

Antonia Okafor, Southwest regional director for SCC, commented, "One way or another, UT-Austin's gun-free-offices policy will not stand. It flies in the face of both the intent of Texas lawmakers and the opinion of the Texas attorney general. The only question is whether the courts or the legislature will win the race to strike it down."

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 05/10/2016

What does UT-Austin hope to accomplish with "gun-free" offices?

AUSTIN, TX - Among Texas public universities, the University of Texas at Austin stands alone as the only institution to approve a campus carry policy that would allow students, faculty, and staff to designate individual on-campus offices as criminally enforceable "gun-free" zones. Two other universitiesTexas Tech and Texas A&Mconsidered but, on the advice of legal counsel, ultimately rejected similar policies. As UT-Austin prepares for the inevitable onslaught of lawsuits from not only pro-campus carry organizations but also the Office of the Attorney General of Texas, we should all step back and consider what the university's gun-free-offices policy will and won't accomplish.

UT-Austin's gun-free-offices policy won't keep professors from having to give bad news or bad grades to lawfully armed students.

The gun-free-offices policy approved by UT-Austin President Gregory Fenves states, "If the occupant’s duties ordinarily entail meeting people who may be license holders, the occupant must make reasonable

arrangements to meet them in another location at a convenient time." That means that if a licensed student wants to be armed when meeting with a professor to discuss a failing grade, an ideological disagreement, or anything else, the student must simply ask for the meeting to be held somewhere other than the professor's office, and the professor is required to oblige.

UT-Austin's gun-free-offices policy will require license holders to self-identify to faculty and staff who may have significant influence over the license holder's academic or professional future.

Although the Texas Legislature has gone to great lengths to protect the identities of concealed handgun license (CHL)/license to carry (LTC) holders and to ensure that handguns stay out-of-sight and out-of- mind on college campuses, UT-Austin's gun-free-offices policy would require lawfully armed license holders to self-identify themselves as such, to faculty and/or staff who may be responsible for such decisions as whether or not a license holder receives tenure, whether or not a license holder gets into a particular graduate program, or whether or not a license holder receives a letter of recommendation.

It is not reasonable to think that if a license holder requests that a meeting happen outside of the other party's office, the other party won't ask for an explanation or, at the very least, intuit that the license holder is carrying a gun. Given the level of animosity that many UT-Austin faculty and staff have exhibited toward campus carry, this is a daunting position for license holders.

UT-Austin's gun-free-offices policy won't, as the university's campus carry policy working group claims, protect government employees' "constitutionally-protected right of privacy in their offices."

No court of law has ruled that a "right of privacy" equals a right to complete autonomy. For example, the "right of privacy" doesn't mean that, within the confines of his or her office, a professor may violate UT-Austin's policy against engaging in a sexual relationship with a student.

Texas currently has almost 1.5 million state employees, none of whom are allowed to arbitrarily criminalize licensed concealed carry in their offices. The policy adopted by UT-Austin isn't protecting some long-maintained right of government employees; it's creating a brand new (and legally dubious) right especially for a handful of university employees, including most of the members of the campus carry policy working group.

UT-Austin's gun-free-offices policy will prohibit many if not most CHL/LTC-holding faculty, staff, and graduate students from lawfully carrying concealed handguns on the UT-Austin campus.

Because the duties of a faculty member, staff member, research assistant, or teaching assistant may require entering one or more private offices one or more times each day, the gun-free-offices policy will leave many if not most license holders unable to carry on campus at all. UT-Austin's campus carry policy prohibits leaving a gun in an unattended backpack, purse, desk, or office; therefore, any license holder whose daily routine involves even the possibility of entering a "gun-free" office will be unable to exercise the lawful right to carry that the Texas Legislature clearly intended to protect.

It's worth noting that, although the UT-Austin policy would allow a license holder to lock a handgun in a privately owned or leased motor vehicle, many faculty, staff, and students walk to campus or commute via bus or bicycle, and many of those who drive are required to park far (sometimes as far as a mile) from the building where they work. This seeming concession regarding motor vehicles—which is not

actually a concession at all but, rather, a requirement of existing lawdoes not mitigate the university's gun-free-offices policy in any meaningful way.

UT-Austin's gun-free-offices policy could end up being settled in criminal court, at the expense of a license holder who never intended to violate state law or school policy.

A license holder who carries a concealed handgun into an area of a university campus where the university has given effective notice, per Section 30.06 of the Texas Penal Code, that licensed concealed carry is prohibited is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a year in jail, a $4,000 fine, and a mandatory five-year revocation of the offender's license to carry. This is a serious crime with serious penalties.

Given that UT-Austin's gun-free-offices policy prohibits office occupants from posting signs identifying their offices as "gun-free" zones, even the most well-intentioned license holder will have difficulty keeping up with which offices are "gun-free" and which are not. A license holder may forget which office occupants have provided oral notice that their offices are "gun-free," or an office occupant may forget whom he or she has informed of the "gun-free" status of his or her office. In short, the odds of a license holder inadvertently carrying a concealed handgun into a "gun-free" office are extremely high.

If a license holder is caught inadvertently carrying a concealed handgun in a "gun-free" office, the legitimacy of UT-Austin's gun-free-offices policy could end up being settled in criminal—rather than civil—court, at the expense of someone who never intended to break any law or challenge any university policy.

UT-Austin's gun-free-offices policy will embroil the university in expensive court cases that the university is widely predicted to lose.

There is a reason that legal counsel at Texas Tech and Texas A&M recommended against adopting similar policies and that no other university publicly considered such a policy. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has already issued an opinion stating, "No provisions within [the campus carry law] authorize a president or chief executive officer to delegate this authority [to create gun-free zones] 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." As SCC previously pointed out, a court decision confirming this opinion could leave UT-Austin open to claims of "wrongful exclusion," to the tune of millions of dollars in civil penalties.

Attorney General Paxton also opined that "attending or teaching class is the primary reason most individuals are on campus. If an institution prohibited the carrying of concealed handguns in a substantial number of classrooms, a court would likely conclude that the effect would be to 'generally prohibit' license holders from carrying concealed handguns on campus, contrary to the Legislature's express requirements." Given that the general age limit to obtain a CHL/LTC is 21 and that most persons over that age on the UT-Austin campus are faculty, staff, or graduate students—the vast majority of whom are required to enter private offices as part of their daily activities—it stands to reason that if UT- Austin prohibits the carrying of concealed handguns in a substantial number of private offices, a court will likely conclude that the effect is to "generally prohibit" license holders from carrying concealed handguns on campus, contrary to the Legislature's express requirements.

CONCLUSION

Antonia Okafor, Southwest regional director for SCC, summed up the issue, declaring, "The people who approved this untenable policy know they won't be the ones paying the legal fees and civil penalties when the policy is challenged and ultimately struck down in a court of law. They're more concerned with facing their anti-campus carry colleagues in the university's hallowed halls than with abiding by state law or protecting the university's bottom line. So, because of them, the turmoil over campus carry at UT- Austin will continue a while longer."

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 05/13/2016

SCC's Response to UT Regents’ Decision to Delay Campus Carry Vote

AUSTIN, TX - Students for Concealed Carry (SCC) supports the decision of the University of Texas System board of regents to take additional time to consider the campus carry policies approved by individual universities, and SCC encourages the regents to adopt the three motions proposed by Regent Hildebrand. No matter how skillfully university officials try to talk around it, the reality is that UT- Austin's proposed empty-chamber and gun-free-office policies are ill-advised and reckless.

During Thursday's meeting of the UT regents, Deputy Chancellor David Daniels defended UT-Austin's

decision to require oral rather than written notice of arbitrarily created "gun-free" offices, saying, "We

did not want to have hallways with signage after signage after signage with sign after sign after sign. "

It

would just create a climate

How can any person picture that scenario and not see a campus where licensed concealed carry is generally prohibited? Hiding the evidence (i.e., doing away with the signs) does not make the policy any less a violation of the letter and intent of Senate Bill 11. Officials have placed great emphasis on the fact that licensed concealed carry will generally be allowed in classrooms; however, most of the license holders on campus are faculty, staff, and graduate students who do not enter classrooms every day but who do enter private offices (other than their own) every day. If prohibiting concealed carry in a significant number of classrooms is not allowable, how can it be allowable to prohibit concealed carry in office after office after office (thousands of offices, according to Gun Free UT)?

In justifying the decision not to require or even allow signs identifying offices as "gun-free" zones, both Deputy Chancellor Daniels and UT-Austin President Gregory Fenves repeated the bogus anti-concealed carry talking point that Texas law requires “no guns” signs that are two feet wide by three feet tall. In reality, many private businesses post fully compliant signs that are 1/4 that size.

In explaining how UT-Austin's gun-free-offices policy would be implemented, President Fenves, stated, "The training for faculty is that they make a verbal notification at the beginning of each semester. The intent is that that is for the semester, and they would have to renew that verbal notification each semester, to the students in their class. And if a visitor in their office is not in the class, it's the faculty member's responsibility to issue the verbal notification." This ignores the reality that, in general, most persons over the age of 21 who enter a professor's office are not students in the professor's class. It also ignores the fact that there are many staff members who have private offices but do not teach classes. Under this policy, the occupant of a “gun-free” office must remember to vocalize the "gun-free" status

of his or her office to every courier, maintenance worker, I.T. technician, cleaning crew, research assistant, and colleague who enters.

Not only does this gun-free-offices policy create a minefield of criminally enforceable "gun-free" zones;

it creates an ever-changing minefield of criminally enforceable "gun-free" zones. The occupant of an

office could decide to change his or her policy two or three times during a semester or to have the policy apply only to certain license holders.

Contrary to what Deputy Chancellor Daniels said during Thursday’s meeting, giving one person verbal notice that concealed carry is prohibited does not automatically mean that concealed carry is (or must be) prohibited for everyone. Texas Penal Code Section 30.06 states that concealed carry is only prohibited for a license holder who has "received notice" that concealed carry is prohibited and who has not otherwise received "effective consent" that he or she has been granted an exception to that notice.

This means that, under UT-Austin's proposed campus carry policy, an office occupant could pick and choose which license holders are allowed to carry concealed handguns in the office and which ones potentially face a year in jail, a $4,000 fine, and a five-year revocation of their concealed handgun licenses if they carry into the office. In one office, licensed concealed carry might be perfectly legal for faculty but a serious crime for students. In another office it might be allowable for a few close friends of the occupant but a serious crime for everyone else. Conversely, an office occupant could decide to

generally allow licensed concealed carry in his or her office but to criminalize it for just one person (e.g.,

a professional or academic rival). And as outrageous as it sounds, an office occupant could decide to give

notice to only members of a certain gender, race, or creed. In other words, ‘Licensed concealed carry is okay for most license holders, but for you and your kind, it'll get you a year in jail.’

President Fenves noted, "There is well-known precedent that government employees have some autonomy and privacy rights even in government-owned offices." What he didn't say is whether he believes that Texas is violating this measure of "autonomy and privacy rights" for the roughly 1.5 million state employees whose offices aren't located on the UT-Austin campus and who have no right to arbitrarily criminalize licensed concealed carry in their offices. He also failed to address whether the existence of this allusive right means that the other 13 campuses in the UT System will be violating the rights of their employees by not ensuring a similar measure of autonomy.

As noted in a previous SCC press release, a right to privacy does not exempt occupants of government offices from government policy. For example, the "autonomy and privacy rights" afforded to occupants of private offices at UT-Austin do not grant those occupants the right to use chewing tobacco in their offices. Even in private offices, any use of tobacco products—including smokeless tobacco—is strictly prohibited by UT-Austin's tobacco-free campus policy. Clearly, the right to privacy and autonomy touted by President Fenves and the university's campus carry policy working group is nothing more than misdirection intended to justify an otherwise legally untenable policy desired by many of the UT-Austin employees lucky enough to have a private office (including those employees who comprised a majority of the working group).

With regard to the proposed empty-chamber policy, President Fenves justified the measure by claiming, "The data shows that the most [negative] incidents [related to campus carry]—in fact, all recorded incidents—have to do with accidental discharge." What he didn't say is that, according to his university's own campus carry working group, "all recorded incidents" equals a grand total of four accidental/negligent discharges (during a combined total of well over 1,000 semesters of campus carry),

none of which resulted in life-threatening injury and none of which involved a holstered handgun. The reality is that simply requiring that handguns remain concealed (as mandated by SB 11) and holstered (as mandated by UT-Austin policy) addresses the causes of all four recorded incidents. The empty- chamber requirement contributes nothing in terms of safety and a great deal in terms of risk.

President Fenves sidestepped suggestions that the empty-chamber policy might make an

accidental/negligent discharge more likely, claiming, "An individual that's lawfully licensed to carry a

weapon is responsible for it and has to

statement is dripping with irony, given that he is endorsing a policy that contradicts license holders’

training and given that the campus carry working group to which he repeatedly implored the regents to defer made the case against handling unholstered guns on campus. In explaining why on-campus gun lockers are not a viable option, the working group wrote:

train

properly in handling it. So that is their responsibility." This

Every knowledgeable source we consulted unequivocally stressed the danger that accompanies the transfer of a handgun to a storage unit. A policy that increases the number of instances in which a handgun must be stored multiplies the danger of an accidental discharge. We believe this danger would be especially acute in gun lockers placed around campus. These are most likely to be used when a license holder is attempting to store a handgun while heading to class. It is all-too easy to imagine that there will be days when a license holder is running a bit late and thus will be less cautious in storing the handgun. This substantially raises the risk of accidental discharges on campus.

A person need not be a firearms expert to understand that the handling of the handgun, not the storing of the handgun, is what makes gun lockers an unsafe option. Expecting license holders to not only handle but manipulate (i.e., load and unload) their handguns in campus parking lots or in discrete alcoves on the edge of campus not only duplicates all of the risks of gun lockers but magnifies those risks to the power of ten. If expecting a rushed student to slip a gun into a locker is unsafe, expecting a rushed student to unload a gun borders on criminal negligence.

Near the end of the discussion, Regent Vice Chairman Jeffery Hildebrand proposed three motions:

1. Doing away with UT-Austin's empty-chamber requirement.

2. Requiring that any UT-Austin office occupant seeking to designate his or her office as a "gun- free" zone be required to present a "reasonable justification" to the university president and obtain the approval of the university president.

3. Requiring all 14 campuses in the UT System to adopt a policy requiring that any handgun carried by a licensed student or employee be carried in a holster that completely covers the trigger guard and that provides sufficient tension to retain the weapon even if unexpectedly jostled.

Students for Concealed Carry supports all three of these motions, with two caveats:

1. Motion number two should be amended to include some form of strict scrutiny so that the university president does not become a rubber stamp for any member of the campus community who wants a "gun-free" office. If the regents are not comfortable with Regent Brenda Pejovich's recommended language, which would duplicate the Texas A&M language requiring that the occupant of the office demonstrate "that the carrying of a concealed handgun

by a license holder in the office presents a significant risk of substantial harm due to a negligent discharge of the handgun," we ask that the occupant of the office at least be required to demonstrate a unique risk or threat that cannot be claimed by a significant number of his or her colleagues. (Remember, per the policy approved by President Fenves, designating an office as "gun-free" will not enable the occupant to avoid uncomfortable or heated discussions—for example, informing a student that he or she has failed a class—with lawfully armed license holders).

2. Motion number two should be amended to require that any "gun-free" office be posted with a valid 30.06 sign (which, as previously noted, can be as small as 12" x 18").

Antonia Okafor, Southwest regional director for SCC, commented, "Contrary to what some might think, SCC is not planning to sue every university that enacts a campus carry policy with which we disagree. No other university has approved a policy so egregious that we feel litigation is necessary; therefore, it is particularly galling that UT-Austin has approved two such policies. Thankfully, Thursday's meeting of the board of regents was very encouraging, and we are now cautiously optimistic that the UT System will pull us all back from the precipice."

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 05/15/2016

UT-Austin's Double Standard for Private Offices

AUSTIN, TX - If officials at the University of Texas at Austin believe that university employees are entitled to the "autonomy" to prohibit licensed concealed carry in on-campus offices, why has the university never adopted a policy allowing employees the autonomy to allow licensed concealed carry in on-campus offices?

Under the old state law prohibiting guns on campus, which remains in effect until August 1, universities have the authority to create "written regulations or written authorization" allowing concealed carry in a particular place or by a particular person or group. If, as UT-Austin President Gregory Fenves and the university's campus carry policy working group claim, there is legal precedent guaranteeing government employees autonomy in their offices, why would that autonomy encompass the right to prohibit concealed carry but not the right to allow it?

In their final report, the working group defends their proposed gun-free-offices policy, stating, "We believe this policy is consistent with Texas House of Representatives Policy and Procedure Manual §3.14, which provides that House members may control access to their offices and may, at their discretion, exclude visitors." What the working group doesn't mention is that, although a member of the Texas House may prohibit a person from entering the member's office, the member may not prohibit licensed concealed carry in the office. State law explicitly states that a policy or proclamation prohibiting concealed carry in a House member's office would not only have no force of criminal law—per Texas Penal Code Section 30.06(e)but also be a direct violation of Texas Government Code Section 411.209, punishable by a civil penalty of $1,000-$1,500/day for the first offense and $10,000-$10,500/day for each subsequent offense. The reality is that the UT-Austin policy could hardly be less consistent with Texas House policy.

The working group also cites O’Connor v. Ortega, 480 U.S. 709 (1987), in which the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that government employees enjoy Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure in their offices. However, enjoying Fourth Amendment rights is not the same as enjoying complete autonomy. Nothing in the court's ruling or in the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution exempts a government-employed occupant of a government-owned office from a rule or regulation that lawfully applies to every other government employee.

If UT-Austin officials don't see anything wrong with prohibiting concealed carry in every employee's offices, and if—as noted in previous SCC press releases—UT-Austin officials see nothing wrong with prohibiting an employee from using chewing tobacco or engaging in sexual relationships with adult students in his or her office, why are officials suddenly claiming that a university employee has a constitutionally protected right to autonomy in his or her office?

SCC Southwest Director Antonia Okafor commented, "Whereas the Texas chapter of Students for Concealed Carry takes great care to avoid claiming constitutional rights that have not been affirmed by the Supreme Court, UT-Austin officials seem more than willing to play fast and loose with the Constitution if doing so serves their self-interest."

That self-interest is alluded to in the footnotes of the working group's final report:

We note, however, that this recommendation, although phrased in terms of the right of an occupant, would favor faculty over staff and students. While there are staff members and even some students who occupy offices on campus to which they are solely assigned, a faculty member is much more likely to have an office of which he or she is the sole occupant. This recommended rule, therefore, would have the overall effect of giving faculty members more control over their work environment than staff or students would enjoy. Our concern is that this policy will perpetuate structural inequalities between faculty and staff members at UT Austin.

Why would the working group endorse a policy that will "perpetuate structural inequalities between faculty and staff"? The answer is simple—although most UT-Austin employees do not have a private office, almost all members of the campus carry working group do. (NOTE: The working group has gone on record as saying that no member of the group supports campus carry.) In simplest terms, the working group couched a self-serving policy in bogus legalese.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 07/13/2016

SCC's Statement on the University of Texas System Board of Regents' July 13 Votes on Campus Carry

AUSTIN, TX - On July 13, the University of Texas System board of regents clearly demonstrated that its members have not read, much less given serious consideration to, the arguments and written statements provided to the regents by Students for Concealed Carry. In discussing the UT-Austin policy that would allow occupants of private offices to designate those offices as criminally enforceable "gun- free" zones, the regents repeated—without challenge—several anti-campus carry talking points that SCC thoroughly debunked in statements delivered to the regents via both email and fax.

Despite SCC's clear evidence to the contrary, UT Regents Chairman Paul L. Foster repeated the false claim that the gun-free zone sign required by Texas Penal Code Section 30.06 must be two feet wide by three feet tall in order to be enforceable. In reality, an enforceable 30.06 sign can be as small as 12 inches by 18 inches.

Likewise, despite SCC's clear evidence to the contrary, the regents accepted—without challenge—UT- Austin President Gregory Fenves' false assertion that an office designated "gun-free" by the occupant is "gun-free" to all license holders, including the occupant. In reality, a person authorized to give 30.06 notice can give or withhold that notice at his or her discretion, creating one class of license holder for whom concealed carry is legal and a second class of license holder for whom concealed carry is punishable by a year in jail, a $4,000 fine, and a mandatory five-year revocation of the offender's license to carry a handgun.

At no point did any of the regents note that this gun-free-offices policy will make it impossible for many if not most license holders at the University of Texas at Austin to carry concealed handguns on the campus of the institution. At no point did any of the regents ask why, if UT-Austin believes so firmly in a person's right to autonomy in his or her private office, did the university not previously adopt a policy granting office occupants the authority to allow licensed concealed carry in their private offices. At no point did a regent question why the employees at a single state university should be the only Texas state employees authorized to arbitrarily criminalize licensed concealed carry in their offices.

Thankfully, input from the UT System's own law enforcement experts was enough to persuade the regents to strike down the university's absurd empty-chamber policy. However, striking down only the empty-chamber policy is a half measure. As long as the gun-free-offices policy stands, the university remains out of compliance with both the letter and intent of Texas Senate Bill 11.

Antonia Okafor, Southwest regional director for Students for Concealed Carry, commented, "Now that the University of Texas System has refused to follow the letter and intent of Texas' campus carry law, licensed students, faculty, and staff must turn to the courts for enforcement and to the Legislature for a page-one rewrite to strip university presidents of this measure of discretion with which they clearly cannot be trusted."

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 07/18/2016

UT-Austin’s Campus Carry Policy Demonstrates That Local Control of Campus Carry Won't Work

AUSTIN, TX - After the Texas Legislature granted public institutions of higher education the authority to create reasonable campus carry regulations, officials at the state's largest university demonstrated that they don't know the meaning of "reasonable." By upholding a policy allowing occupants of private offices at the University of Texas at Austin to designate those offices as criminally enforceable "gun- free" zones, the University of Texas System board of regents joined UT-Austin President Gregory Fenves and the UT-Austin campus carry policy working group in disregarding both the facts of the issue and the intent of the campus carry law. Now the Texas Legislature must act to revoke universities' rulemaking authority and place control of the law back where it belongs—in the hands of lawmakers.

Like President Fenves and his campus carry working group, the UT regents not only discounted but failed to even consider factual evidence and logical arguments demonstrating that the proposed gun-free- offices policy would prohibit many if not most license to carry (LTC)/concealed handgun license (CHL) holders at UT-Austin from carrying concealed handguns on campus, would place those license holders who do carry on campus at risk of unwittingly committing a serious crime with serious consequences, would require those license holders who do carry on campus to self-identify as armed license holders to their professors and/or employers, would delegate to UT-Austin employees a measure of authority not shared by any other state employee, would embroil the university in costly lawsuits, and would not prevent faculty from having to issue bad grades or bad news to lawfully armed students.

Students for Concealed Carry therefore calls on the Texas Legislature to amend Texas Government Code Section 411.2031 to strip public institutions of higher education of discretionary authority over campus carry.

Antonia Okafor, Southwest regional director for Students for Concealed Carry, commented, "The Texas Legislature gave universities enough rope to either steer their own ships or hang themselves from the yardarm, and the University of Texas at Austin chose to hang itself. Now the people of Texas want their rope back."

All SCC Statements Regarding UT-Austin's Gun-Free-Offices Policy: http://tinyurl.com/scc-on- gun-free-offices

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ABOUT STUDENTS FOR CONCEALED CARRY — Students for Concealed Carry (SCC) is a national, non- partisan, grassroots organization comprising college students, faculty, staff, and concerned citizens who believe that holders of state-issued concealed handgun licenses should be allowed the same measure of personal protection on college campuses that current laws afford them virtually everywhere else. SCC is not affiliated with the NRA or any other organization. For more information on SCC, visit ConcealedCampus.org or Facebook.com/ConcealedCampus. For more information on the debate over campus carry in Texas, visit WhyCampusCarry.com.

CONTACT:

Antonia Okafor, Southwest Regional Director, Students for Concealed Carry (SCC):

antonia.okafor@concealedcampus.org Michael Newbern, Assistant Director of Public Relations, SCC: michael.newbern@concealedcampus.org

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