Approved by the AAR Board of Directors on November 6, 2015
The American Academy of Religion (AAR) is deeply concerned about the impact of Texas’s new Campus Carry law as it relates to Texas universities. The law, which was passed earlier this year, will take effect in 2016. It allows licensed handgun owners to bring concealed handguns into buildings, including classrooms, on Texas campuses. The law gives public universities some discretion to regulate campus carry but stipulates such regulations may not “generally prohibit” or “have the effect of generally prohibiting” those licensed from carrying concealed handguns. The AAR believes that maintaining safe environments for free inquiry is vitally important to every classroom in higher education. As scholars of religion, we are especially sensitive to classroom security. The critical study of religion can be unsettling and uncomfortable: it often questions closely held beliefs and probes religious convictions. The AAR believes that the Campus Carry law and similar laws in other states will compromise the safety of the spaces in which we teach, introduce new threats to college campuses, and result in harmful effects on students, professors, and the free expression of ideas. The AAR urges university leaders to consider classroom restrictions on campus carry to protect physical safety and safeguard academic freedom.