Hundreds of US university students carry sex toys to protest 'crazy law allowing guns on campus
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.
Organisers said the sex toys were used on Wednesday to mock what they consider an absurd notion that guns should be allowed in academic settings. The law took effect on August 1.
Students and faculty at the Austin campus fiercely opposed allowing licence holders aged 21 and older 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.
Organisers said they distributed more than 4,500 free sex toys.
“We have crazy laws here but this is by far the craziest, that you can’t bring a dildo on to campus legally but you can bring your gun. We’re just trying to fight absurdity with absurdity,” Rosie Zander, a 20-year-old history student, told the Guardian.
“We wanted something fun that people could really engage in. Because it’s hard to get involved in the political process at our age, people our age don’t tend to vote or get involved, and this is so easy.
"Strap a dildo on and you’re showing the Texas legislature this is not a decision we wanted.”
The protest came two days after a US district judge denied a motion from three University of Texas professors who wanted to ban guns in their classroom.
The professors had argued academic freedom could be chilled under the so-called "campus carry" law backed by the state's Republican political leaders.
But US District Judge Lee Yeakel said the professors had "failed to establish a substantial likelihood of ultimate success on the merits of their asserted claims," and denied a motion for an injunction to ban guns.
"It appears to the court that neither the Texas Legislature nor the (university's) Board of Regents has overstepped its legitimate power to determine where a licensed individual may carry a concealed handgun in an academic setting," Mr Yeakel said.
Republican lawmakers said campus carry could help prevent a mass shooting.
"There is simply no legal justification to deny licensed, law-abiding citizens on campus the same measure of personal protection they are entitled to elsewhere in Texas," Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, said.
The Texas campus carry law took effect as the University of Texas held a memorial to mark the 50th anniversary of one of the deadliest US gun incidents on a college campus.
On August 1 1966, student Charles Whitman killed 16 people in a rampage, firing from a perch atop the clock tower at the University of Texas at Austin, the state's flagship public university.
Texas has allowed concealed carry since 1995 but had kept college campuses gun-free until this year.