Lisa Moore

As Interviewed by Sullivan B., March 16, 2019

Lisa Moore: In Her Own Words

This is Sullivan Banks-Gilmore interviewing Lisa Moore on the topic of her movement against the campus carry law at the university of Texas. Stay tuned!

How exactly are you involved with the topic concerning the Campus Carry law at UT?

So in 2015, the legislature passed this law saying that people would now be allowed to bring concealed handguns into classrooms, so nobody in the room would know that there was someone armed there, and we also were not allowed to ask students not to bring guns into our classrooms. A lot of professors at UT, virtually everyone that I know, that I've talked to, is really against that because we feel like learning and a classroom should be a safe space. And also, when you're on a university campus and you teach controversial topics like I do, to do with feminism and gay rights, discussions can get heated -- and I felt like it would have a real chilling effect on debate in the classroom if students had to worry that somebody was armed. So along with several of my colleagues I founded an organization called Gun Free UT, and we have done a lot of different things to try to oppose that law, including that I took part in a lawsuit suing the University of Texas and the State of Texas.

Did you grow up in a house with guns?

I did. I grew up on a ranch in Alberta, and one of my chores was that I had to learn how to use a 22 rifle and use it to shoot gophers, which was the rodent pest that dug holes and ate our cattle feed and so on, and I also used to go hunting with my family, duck hunting and using a 303 shotgun for that -- so I have a lot of respect for guns. What I was taught to believe was that you don’t take your guns to town. It was a shock to me because of how I grew up, to think that anyone even wanted to have guns in their college classrooms. it doesn’t make sense to me.

What relationships have you had with people who are licensed to carry or have been involved with this law?

When I was explaining that I am allowed to tell them that they can't bring guns into my office for my office hours -- and I was explaining that to a class one time right after the law passed -- and a student, very upset, got up and ran out of the door. And I ran after her, and she said she felt like she was safer. I was explaining that you’re not safer if you’re carrying a gun because it’s more likely to go off by accident or get in the hands of somebody else. Oftentimes guns get left behind in the bathroom or something like that. It really upset her, and I told her to please come back and that her views were welcome.

Do you recall any events, marches, or rallies concerning the subject of the Campus Carry law that you have attended?

Yes, we have had several. After the Santa Fe massacre that happened at a high school in Texas last year, we had a vigil for victims of gun violence at the Martin Luther King statue on the UT campus every week. We also had a weekly gathering we called “peace zone” where we came together to learn about nonviolent personal safety strategies -- and also we meditated to try to make sure we would have good presence of mind if there was any kind of active shooter situation, that we would be calm and centered and able to help.

So you said that you filed a lawsuit. What were your reasons behind doing this?

We argued against the law on three constitutional grounds. One was the first amendment which protects free speech, so we argued that guns in the classroom have a chilling effect on free speech in the classroom, and also that not being able to say that we don’t want guns in the classroom is a violation of our free speech rights as professors. Then the second amendment calls for the establishment of a well-regulated militia, and we argued that the amount of training that you need to have a concealed handgun license in Texas is so minimal that it doesn't amount to good regulation. And then we argued that it violated our fourteenth amendment rights to equal protection under the law, because the legislature decided that all private Universities in Texas would have the option to opt out of the law, and every single one of them did except for one tiny school in east Texas.

Did it work out?

We were in court for two years and we got a lot of publicity, and we went to court and argued our case a bunch of different times, but in the end the case was dismissed, so we didn’t win -- but I think we still helped.