Earlier this month, a case brought by professors from University of Texas at Austin, essentially stating that because they're scared of people with guns, a law that allows the lawful carrying of a concealed firearm while on campus for self defense keeps the professors from speaking their mind, thus creating a "chilling effect" on their First Amendment right to free speech, ought to be found unconstitutional, was dismissed by a district court.

The legal definition of a "chilling effect" on free speech is based around the idea that there is a law or government action that can suppress or discourage the free exercise of speech through fear of legal repercussions.

It does not cover your feelings, or as the court more eloquently stated, "Allegations of a subjective 'chill' are not an adequate substitute for a claim of specific present objective harm or a threat of specific future harm. The injury alleged must be real and immediate, not conjectural or hypothetical."

As for the professors feelings, believing that anyone who has the ability to lawfully carry a concealed firearm in a non threatening or menacing manner is a potential criminal willing to kill you over a speech you're giving is a personal phobia that does not have any basis in reality.

Maybe these professors are looking at it from the wrong angle. First, start with the premise that laws don't prevent crime; laws merely punish people who break them. Using California as an example where concealed carry on campus is prohibited with certain exceptions, there is no law that can prevent a person from carrying a gun onto campus and shooting you over what you're teaching, nor is there a legal avenue to protect yourself from such a shooter. That should have more of what these professors claim to be a "chilling effect" on their speech than anything, knowing they're sitting ducks in a confined classroom, defenseless. At least the shooter can be punished for bringing a gun on campus and shooting you, but can never be prevented from shooting you.

However, in Texas, if this same shooter were to try anything, he or she could hopefully be shot by a concealed carrier in the classroom. Or better yet, there would be a "chilling effect" on the shooter from ever attempting to shoot a professor, with the knowledge that they could or would receive return fire.

This should actually give the professors a "warming effect" on their exercise of free speech. They no longer have to be afraid of what they're saying, because unlike California, they're protected by the "chilling effect" on crime that a law abiding, non threatening, armed society brings.

It's all about how you look at it. But good job, professors, for attempting to care about the free exercise of speech on campus, something that seems to be lacking in modern times. Now try to care about the free exercise of the right to keep and bear arms for self defense and preservation of life on campus as well.

 Posted by permission. 

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