2017] CROSSFIRE ON COMPULSORY CAMPUS CARRY LAWS 2111
Yet, despite the numerous voices expressing fervent dissent to such a measure,
some state legislatures have passed laws mandating the allowance of firearms
in classrooms as a measure taken to prevent school shootings and other
campus violence.3 These laws, hereinafter referred to as “compulsory campus
carry laws,” put public higher educational institutions in a conundrum—
either: (1) follow a law that the overwhelming majority on campus disagree
with;4 or (2) disobey the law by continuing to ban firearms and potentially risk
a reduction in state funding or another financial penalty.5
But campus carry laws implicate more than just Second Amendment
rights. American colleges and universities, and the students and faculty that
inhabit them, enjoy special protections designed to protect the ability to teach
and learn freely.6 Requiring the allowance of firearms in classrooms and
academic buildings will have a chilling effect on academic speech in many
different ways, including students’ in-class expression, professor and student
engagement, professor and professor interaction, and administrator and
professor relations. Accordingly, campus carry laws may violate First
Amendment protections of academic freedom.
For example, knowing that a student may be concealing a firearm could
cause a professor to feel uncomfortable giving a student a failing grade
because this could result in a violent confrontation, and even death.7 Indeed,
it is not outside the realm of possibility for a student to shoot a professor over
a grade. In 2002, a disgruntled Appalachian School of Law student who was
academically dismissed shot and killed one of his law professors and the law
3. See Firmin DeBrabander, Campus Carry vs. Faculty Rights, INSIDE HIGHER ED (Mar. 19, 2015),
4. See James H. Price et al., University Presidents’ Perceptions and Practice Regarding the Carrying
of Concealed Handguns on College Campuses, 62 J. AM. C. HEALTH 461, 463 (2014) (finding in a
scientific study that 95% of 401 college and university presidents randomly surveyed were
unsupportive of the idea of students, faculty, and visitors carrying concealed firearms on campus,
and that “most faculty (92%) and students (89%) would feel unsafe if faculty, students, and
visitors carried concealed handguns on campus”).
5. See Kathy L. Wyer, Note, A Most Dangerous Experiment? University Autonomy, Academic
Freedom, and the Concealed-Weapons Controversy at the University of Utah, 2003 UTAH L. REV. 983, 987
(describing how the University of Utah’s refusal in 2001 to implement Utah’s campus carry law
resulted in a senator introducing a bill to reduce the University president’s salary by half).
6. Id. at 1008–16.
7. Manny Fernandez & Dave Montgomery, Texas Lawmakers Pass a Bill Allowing Guns at Colleges,
N.Y. TIMES (June 2, 2015), https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/03/us/texas-lawmakers-approve-bill-
allowing-guns-on- campus.html (“Professors said they worry about inviting a student into their offices
to talk about a failing grade if they think that student is armed.”); Alexandria Samuels, University of Texas
Dean Resigns Over Campus Carry Concerns, USA TODAY C. (Feb. 28 2016, 11:21 AM), http://college.
usatoday.com/2016/02/28/ut-dean-resigns-camupus-carry (reporting how the University of Texas’s
Professor Emeritus Daniel Hamermesh resigned because of Texas’s Campus Carry Law, stating in his
resignation letter that “my perception is that the risk that a disgruntled student might bring a gun into
the classroom and start shooting at me has been substantially enhanced by the concealed-carry law”).