Texas professors file lawsuit against new campus carry law

AUSTIN, Texas -- In an odd coincidence, a Texas law that expands gun rights on college campuses took effect Monday, just as victims of a horrifying act of gun violence were being remembered.

A solemn ceremony at the University of Texas at Austin marked fifty years since Charles Whitman opened fire from the campus clock tower, killing 16 people.

Officials at the University of Texas oppose the law. Professor Joan Nueberger is concerned about its impact in her classroom.

"Guns are designed to hurt people. And if you don't know if someone has a gun in their pocket, you don't know if you're in danger," Nueberger said.

She also fears professors and students will shy away from controversial topics.

"We want students to be passionate about what they have to say ... without worrying about whether someone's going to pull a gun and shoot you."

Antonia Okafor, who plans to carry at the UT Dallas campus next year, says nothing could be farther from the truth.

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Antonia Okafor

CBS News

"These people are not monsters. Once they get a license to carry it's [not] a license to kill. Obviously not. It means someone is wanting to protect themselves if something may happen."

She says seven other states already have similar laws and points to the recent flurry of mass shootings as another reason to allow concealed guns.

"The important thing is that me as an individual, I am able to protect myself. As a law-abiding citizen, I am able to protect myself against someone who is trying to harm me."

Gun owners must comply with the state's concealed carry'requirements, which include being at least 21 and passing classroom and training courses.

Three UT Austin professors have filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the law before classes begin later this month.

Private universities can opt out of the new law, and most have.