By Jon Herskovitz
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – To protest a new state law that makes the carrying of concealed handguns legal in college classrooms, students at the University of Texas on Wednesday openly displayed sex toys, an act considered illegal under local indecency laws.
“We are fighting absurdity with absurdity,” said Jessica Jin, leader of the protest called “Cocks Not Glocks: Campus (Dildo) Carry,” where hundreds of sex toys were given away at the rally on Wednesday that coincided with a return to classes at university’s flagship campus.
“Texas has decided it is not all obnoxious or illegal to allow deadly concealed weapons on campus. But walking around with a dildo could land you in trouble,” Jin said.
On Aug. 1, a so-called “campus carry” law backed by the state’s Republican political leaders went into effect that allows concealed handgun license holders aged 21 and older to bring handguns into classrooms and other university facilities.
The lawmakers said campus carry protects the rights of gun owners and could prevent a mass shooting on campus.
Hundreds of university faculty and staff lobbied unsuccessfully to block campus carry, arguing the combination of youth, academic stress, alcohol and firearms could make for a deadly combination.
A U.S. district judge on Monday denied a motion from three University of Texas professors who wanted to ban guns in their classroom after the state gave some students that right under the law that went into effect this month.
On Wednesday, protests organizers shouting slogans like: “If you are packing heat, we are packing meat,” handed out hundreds of sex toys, many donated by area stores. They also handed out plastic zip ties so that protesters could strap the sex toys on to their backpacks in a sign of defiance against campus carry.
“It’s scary to think that at any moment you could be next to a person carrying a gun. And if they go off their rocker, like a lot of people do in college, it is game over for anyone nearby,” said Bianca Montgomery, a second year student.
Third year student Forrest Sullivan, who backs the campus carry law, said the rally was high on drama, emotion and humor, but short on persuasive arguments.
“Their rhetorical strategy is going to alienate of people who are on the fence about this,” he said, adding he feels safer under the law.
The university said the protest appeared to be protected political speech and did not halt the rush for dildos when organizers gave them out for free.
“This is a very funny campaign,” said protester Rebecca Galor, 20, who picked up two sex toys.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz)