Sex toys vs. guns at protest against "campus carry" law

AUSTIN, Texas -- Hundreds of University of Texas students waved sex toys at a campus rally during the first day of classes, protesting a new state law that allows concealed handguns in college classrooms, buildings and dorms.

Organizers said the sex toys were used Wednesday to mock what they consider an absurd notion that guns should be allowed in academic settings. The law took effect Aug. 1.

KEYE TV, CBS Austin, spoke to the organizers of the protest, who distributed more than 4,500 free sex toys and said they were meant to demonstrate how the presence of some inanimate objects can make people feel unnecessarily uncomfortable.

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Many students and faculty at the Austin campus fiercely opposed allowing license holders to carry their concealed handguns to class. One prominent dean left the school after the law passed in 2015. Several faculty members attended the rally.

Texas has allowed concealed carry since 1995 but had kept college campuses gun-free until this year. The law permitting “campus carry” was brought into effect at the beginning of this month -- coincidentally 50 years to the day after Charles Whitman opened fire from the UT campus clock tower, killing 16 people.  

Nicole Golden, from the Moms Demand Action advocacy group, told KEYE the legislature had been “bullied by the gun lobby into prioritizing a dangerous policy that places our students as the only line of defense against a gunman rather than keeping guns out of dangerous hands.”

Golden’s group, along with the student and faculty demonstrators who turned out in force on Wednesday, to protest the concealed carry on campus, want Texas’ legislature to re-examine the issue when it reconvenes in January.

KEYE reported that while sentiments expressed on the UT campus Wednesday were overwhelmingly against the new law, several students voiced their support, and cast doubt on the sex toy-protest’s utility.

Chemical engineering junior Forrest Sullivan told KEYE that, in his opinion, the university campus was no different to the rest of the state and as a state institution, it should receive no exemptions.

“They’re accepting public money. They’re a public institution so they are beholden to the laws of the land and the constitution,” Sullivan said.

As for the sex toy demonstration: “I just don’t see that convincing the legislature,” Sullivan said.

Brian Bensimon, another student and state director for Students for Conceal Carry, told KEYE he fully supported the protesters’ “right to carry a sex toy,” but suggested there was no definitive proof on whether the new law would make the UT campus more or less safe, and “because you can’t make that claim, it’s not worth restricting the personal liberty of the people.”