As college students return to campuses all over the country this week, two University of Texas students organized and pulled off a creative, impactful and provocative public protest against the new concealed-guns-on-campus law, passed by the Texas State Legislature last fall. Jessica Lin and Ana Lopez consider the new law allowing anyone with a Texas concealed carry permit to carry their gun onto all public university campuses an obscenity, which got their wheels turning.
University of Texas's flagship campus in Austin was the scene of America's first/worst school mass shooting back on August 1, 1966. Ironically, 50 years later, Texas right-wing legislators selected that same date in 2016 for the new campus-carry law to go into effect. 14 people on the UT campus were killed and 32 were injured by a student shooter perched on top of the Texas campus' most visible landmark in 1966. One has to wonder about short memories in the Longhorn state.
Now, thanks to a nationwide push by the National Rifle Association and their right-wing ideologue political supporters, several states have passed concealed-guns-on-campus laws over the past decade. Many other state legislatures have taken up bills relaxing concealed carry laws to include campuses, Georgia's legislature passed such a law which was vetoed by Republican Gov. Nathan Deal just a few months ago.
This week's UT-Austin protest was dubbed "cocks not glocks" with thousands of rubber dildos passed out and displayed by students to bring attention to the "absurdity" of allowing concealed guns on campus. When Lin and Lopez researched campus obscenity laws last fall, they found that it was illegal to openly display the sex toys and law breakers could receive citations from law enforcement. Thus the idea was hatched to highlight the absurdity that carrying a sex toy was breaking the law, while carrying a deadly loaded weapon was legal. The protest is meant to dramatize the absurdity "with something more absurd".
Said Jessica Lin recently, "If the guns around you aren't making you uncomfortable, then maybe this dildo protest will make you think twice about what it is that makes you feel uncomfortable, and why." Observers have labeled this type of symbolic protest agitprop and it may just catch on.
Local Texas news coverage has reported that literally thousands of UT-Austin students swamped the on-campus sites where dildos were given away and the hashtag #cocksnotglocks has caught fire on Twitter and Facebook. The local Moms Demand Action for Gunsense in America supported the protest and national gun violence prevention organizations and activists are taking note as well.
Sadly, several UT-Austin professors have sued the state of Texas and some have already declared their intention to leave their jobs due to the potential danger presented by concealed guns on campus. Further, nearly all private Texas colleges and universities have opted out of the law, as private colleges have the same rights as any private property owner or business to prohibit concealed guns on their premises. So now Texas families and students have a double standard; safety for private college students, and risk for public university students. That's an obscenity.