Students and activists opposed to the campus carry gun law that went into effect this month protested the measure on Wednesday by carrying sex toys on the University of Texas campus on the first day of classes.
Participants strapped the sex toys to their backpacks, handed them out on campus and held a midday rally to protest the law that allows handgun license holders to take their weapons into classrooms, labs and offices on campus. Event organizers said they hope students will continue the protest until the law is repealed.
Rosie Zander, a UT junior and campus coordinator for University Democrats, rallied a crowd of more than 100 people.
“If there are guns in your bags, there will be dildos in mine,” she shouted, as she brandished one over her head. “If you pack heat, we’re packing meat! We’re going to make you as uncomfortable as we are (with guns).”
"If students are allowed to bring guns, then I’m gonna bring my dildo."
— Splinter (@splinter_news) August 25, 2016
Zander helped hand out several boxes of the sex toys, thousands of which have been donated to the protest effort, while others wore T-shirts bearing the group’s message.
Supporters of campus carry also attended the event.
Brian Bensimon, a member of Students for Concealed Carry, held up a large “coexist” sign. He said the main argument his group is trying to make is that concealed carry is already permitted in grocery stores, restaurants, museums and the state Capitol, so it makes no sense to ban the practice at universities.
“We’ve never made the argument that this is for the protection of the campus as a whole,” he said. “This has always been for the protection of the individual so that they can be secure in their right of self-defense.”
Related Story: Sex Toys and Gun Laws Collide on Campus in Austin
Aaron Logan, another campus carry supporter, said that while he didn’t agree with the message of the protest, it seemed to be successful.
“They’re getting their message across,” he said. “I’ve heard of things happening, like someone bringing a gun into the library one time a couple of years ago. I just know that if I were in that situation, I would feel safer if I had a gun on me than without one.”
A federal judge denied a request from three UT professors on Monday for an injunction to allow them to ban firearms in their classrooms. The professors cited concerns that handguns in classes would have a chilling effect on discussions and stymie academic freedom.
“The State of Texas has decided that it is not at all obnoxious to allow deadly concealed weapons in classrooms, however it DOES have strict rules about free sexual expression, to protect your innocence,” the protesters’ Facebook page said.
Event organizer Ana López said protesters are fighting absurdity with absurdity, and she placed blame for the campus carry law on “reluctant legislators,” the National Rifle Association and others.
“I have a huge dildo strapped to my backpack because these people believe it is their God-given right to carry a weapon into my classroom,” she said. “Let me tell you something. I don’t think that those who drafted the Bill of Rights thought that a well-regulated militia started in my organic chemistry classroom.”
UT’s rules prohibit displays or performances that are obscene, and state law bars the reckless display of obscene items.
But Bob Harkins, UT’s associate vice president for campus safety and security, said in a recent interview that the protest, and the props, are constitutionally protected political speech.
“That’s not illegal,” Harkins said. “We’re not going to arrest anybody for that.”
A University of Texas Police Department spokeswoman confirmed that no one was arrested during the protest, nor were any citations issued.
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